Today's topic is about starting a business online; a lot of users asked for this particular topic. Since we are an online business, we thought we should share our knowledge about online stores.

The online platform is a vast topic, but we will cover the most you need to start a business online. People who are new to the internet-world might have some difficulties understanding, but it's okay i will explain things as simple as possible.

What is Online Business?

Taking your offline business to the internet is called the online store. So here you won't need any physical shops or stores, here your business is a virtual store. In this online store, you will list your products to sell. And you will find your customers by using digital marketing techniques. By the reach of this marketing, you will sell the products to the customers. There are many online platforms to sell your products. These are some of the platforms that come into mind for most people, such as Amazon, Flipkart, etc. But most don't know about the classifications. There are two major categories of online business, they are;

  • Social Commerce
  • E-Commerce
  • Single Vendor
  • Multi-Vendor

What is Social Commerce?

An excellent example of social commerce is Facebook for business. Here you can create your store and sell products. There is also an Instagram for online business in foreign countries; it's not available in India yet. Not only are this called social commerce. For example, you can take the Meesho app. In this, you can sell products via WhatsApp by sending messages to groups and individuals. You may use whatever social platform to sell products, but there is no defined structure for social commerce.

What is E-commerce & M-Commerce?

I'm sure you all have heard about E-commerce, but what is M-commerce, you ask? It's the same thing, but when you access a marketplace without a web browser is called M-Com. Also known as Mobile Commerce, for example, accessing a website through mobile apps such as Amazon and Flipkart instead of a browser. Most of any reliable online businesses have their presence in both e-commerce and m-commerce.

E-Commerce Classification

  • Single Vendor - Shopping Websites
  • Multi-Vendor - Marketplaces

Single Vendor

In a single vendor, you will be only the seller selling your products on your website to the customer. For example, let's assume you have a footwear business. In which you are selling Shoes from made from different brands and manufacturers through your online store, here only you will be the seller selling the products to customers, so this type is called a single vendor eCommerce or a shopping site.

Multi-Vendor

If an online store has multiple sellers, it is called a multi-vendor eCommerce or a Marketplace. In this online store, numerous sellers from different cities or places would have listed their products on the website to sell their products. For example. In Amazon, anyone can become a seller or customer to purchase or sell products from all over the world.

You will have a lot of online stuff in a single vendor to worry about, such as website design, hosting, development, servers, etc. But in a multi-vendor, you don't have to go through that. Instead, you can join an existing marketplace to sell your products and would not have to worry about those things because the company owns the website takes care of those things, but you will have to pay a commission fee for every product you sell through and marketplace.  Some marketplaces can sneak in some additional costs to the commission fee, such as hidden charges and shipping charges.

But if you are planning to create a multi-vendor eCommerce platform that requires a big commitment, huge investments, and a dedicated team to create your marketplace.

What is right for you?

So let's see what platform suits you the best to start an online business. If your business is on a small scale, you can go for social commerce to cut all extra fees and maintenance charges. Whatever business you plan on starting a business, social commerce can be a good test run whether you should or should not scale your idea business.

If you have a medium scale business and you can afford the development costs of the online store for your business, you can go for the single-vendor eCommerce you can apply any decisions that you make on your online store. Being a single vendor makes you independent, and you can make your own decisions.

If your business is on a large scale and you plan to sell your products worldwide, you can choose any market places that are available today like Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress without any second guesses. You will be required to pay a commission fee to the marketplace on every product you sell.

Social Commerce - There is very low reliability for social commerce because most businesses that engage this platform will have no website or registered business address,  so there is no possibility of creating a customer base for your business.

  • Zero Risk
  • No business registration required
  • No documents
  • GST Required in some cases

Multi-vendor (Marketplace) - This is the most reliable form of e-commerce. It has a structure legally and adequately with the right policies for orders, returns, deliveries, how to use the website, etc. Marketplaces create and promise a more trustworthy platform.

  • High Risk (Competition)
  • Higher expectations from customers
  • Huge Audience

Single Vendor - This platform has medium reliability and trust among the users. Users do not trust easily and until you have some genuine reviews of your site and your products.

  • Medium Risk
  • Shipping Charges
  • Customer Support
  • Marketing

When comparing the above three platforms, the most scalable platform is a marketplace platform. The marketplace provides you with great options and tools to satisfy all your business needs. Also, there will be continuous development and improvements on the Marketplace software side.

If you create your online store in software like Shopify, You have to pay for their monthly software subscription, then you have to spend some money on marketing and some for courier charges, and some much more will add to your Investments. In case you plan on creating a Marketplace, you will have to ready for making considerable investments in the software development side from frontend to backend and the User experience, and it is tough to create trusting and more reliable websites like Amazon and Flipkart.

So I hope you got the idea of how to start an online business and what are the classifications and the difficulties you might face, feel free to ask any questions in the comment section we are happy to help. Stay tuned for more on business lessons.