E-commerce is the buying and selling of products and services over the internet. Many people participate in electronic commerce daily without being fully aware of what they are doing. From purchasing a dress from an online seller to paying the utility bill through your bank’s app e-commerce presents itself in various forms and involves different transactions.
If we look back on the beginning of the e-commerce industry, it was over 40 years ago when Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and teleshopping paved the way for modern-day e-commerce stores. Online shopping is on the Internet, and when the latter became available to the public, several online businesses popped up and transformed the retail market forever.
Although the e-commerce business model gained massive popularity over the years, a major shift was observed during the pandemic when all physical stores and shopping forms ceased to exist. At that time, the industry truly understood the potential of e-commerce and how much power it yielded on the spending patterns of consumers.
At the same time, buyers experienced new-found freedom accompanied by the convenience of doorstep deliveries. E-commerce has made shopping as easy as clicking a button on the computer or tapping on the mobile screen.
It gives a whole new meaning to ease: you can shop from almost anywhere around the world from the comfort of your home. While e-commerce once meant calling up an advertisement number to ask about a product, now it’s an industry that brings in billions and shows no signs of stopping.
One thing to consider is that while the industry was advancing, the pandemic tipped the scales in a rush. E-commerce companies popped up everywhere, from small home businesses to gigantic corporations that shipped to every corner of the world, and here we are today.
The development of e-commerce
What is e-commerce? The answer lies in its name: electronic commerce. But this simple term encompassed a USD 9.09 trillion industry in 2019, and the number has only grown. It refers to any online business, but the retail sector’s biggest chunk.
The meaning of e-commerce is straightforward because the concept revolves around convenience and efficiency for the buyer. The retail sector is currently worth $5 trillion in 2022, a fifth of overall retail sales. And even though growth has been slowing the sudden COVID boom, it’ll reach $7 trillion by 2025.
But where did the story start? After CompuServe, an online service provider, was established in 1969, Michael Aldrich first invented the concept. Those days, it was known as online shopping. It sent a series of events barrelling forward to evolve into what is now known as the e-commerce industry.
There was the Boston Computer Exchange and Book Stacks Unlimited, but what set the ball rolling was Amazon launching in 1995, soon followed by PayPal in 1998 as an e-payment system. Alibaba arrived in 1999, and Shopify became one of the latest power players after being established in 2004. These formed some of the most famous e-commerce sites that dominate the industry today, with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos the wealthiest man in the world.
But perhaps the biggest boom in e-commerce services came when the pandemic hit in early 2020. Everyone was at home with a lockdown in place, so being able to order online became a necessity instead of an option. With many companies introducing contactless deliveries, almost every transaction is done online.
On top of that, millions of people lost their jobs and had no source of income. This loss, in turn, gave way to thousands of small businesses that people started in their homes as a need, hobby, or side hustle. Now, e-commerce has been transformed into the new norm and has given birth to different sectors.
Why is e-commerce more popular than traditional sales?
The definition of e-commerce is simple enough: any commercial transaction is done on the internet. The industry has seen a boost in Singapore, with the e-commerce market expected to reach USD10 billion by 2026. MAS, i.e., the Monetary Authority of Singapore, is establishing a Smart Financial Centre to boost FinTech. One of the major goals of the Smart Nation vision is to make e-payment in Singapore dominant.
But what exactly makes e-commerce more popular than traditional sales? For one, there’s convenience for shoppers. Even before the pandemic, Amazon was the end-all-be-all for most of the newer generation. Then, grocery and food delivery apps started popping up, and people could have an entire shopping mall in the palm of their hand.
Busy people who had trouble taking time out of their week or had to give up precious rest time on weekends to go grocery shopping could not take care of everything days in advance in just a few minutes.
And you’re not limited to things you can find locally. If you want a package shipped from the other side of the world, it’ll be at your door in days. This accessibility meant several people shifted to e-commerce sites.
And for the buyer, it’s just as convenient. There are fewer costs because even if they need warehouses, they don’t require shops to display their goods. Websites can showcase their entire catalogue with personalized designs.
For both sides, it shortened distances because expanding overseas, even for small-scale businesses, has never been easier. It all gave birth to several new sectors, with some e-commerce examples being buy now pay later (BNPL) services like Atome, delivery services, boosts to graphic designing, and content writing for websites and sellers like Amazon.
The advantages and disadvantages of e-commerce
Of course, everything has a good and bad side. E-commerce paved the way for young entrepreneurs and allowed them to find platforms to sell their ideas easily. There’s no need to look for an investor if you can dish out some starting capital. You can earn thousands using a website and storing stock in your home.
It’s easy to reach new customers with ads and social media campaigns, and electronic payment means easy calculating financial workings. Just an Instagram page can be enough for a kickstart to reach your dream.
With every new sector comes new opportunities, and e-commerce has much to do with the booming freelance industry. People consume content and want to buy products they see on apps like Tiktok. As the industry develops, BNPL companies ensure people can afford pricier items without putting a dent in their wallets.
The e-commerce industry has built bridges and removed borders: it’s a godsend for business owners as it cuts maintenance costs. As beneficial for buyers, people never have to move from their homes. A Shopify survey covering 11 markets showed that 84% of consumers used online services during the pandemic. And that number isn’t expected to lessen by much.
However, the new world brought new problems. For one, several sites scam users out of their money or sell second-grade products, causing buyer trust issues.
From a business point of view, limited interactions with customers mean you can’t create a tangible, meaningful connection. And even though most clothing sites have entire charts, it’s still not the same as trying on a dress at the store. Similarly, buyers can’t trust products like home appliances if they can’t test them out.
No matter how flexible the return policy is, customers might stick with big names to ensure they receive quality products, creating problems for new businesses. And while online and on-call customer service is available, it often takes time before they can get you a satisfactory answer.
On top of that, a business’ sales can be affected by site crashes, so you need to keep a constant eye on its working. Ad campaigns can also cost thousands, but with the lessening attention span in people, you need to develop continuous strategies that adjust with the trends to ensure your business doesn’t go under.
Why Atome is a Leader in the E-Commerce Industry
As the e-commerce business model became popular, so did the BNPL industry. Almost every famous brand now offers the option to buy first and pay the full amount in
instalments, and at the forefront of the sector is Atome.
Established relatively recently in December 2019, it’s risen to the top and spread to over ten countries worldwide, including Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Mainland China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Partnered with over 10,000 merchants, the company is trusted by millions of users to practise smart shopping. Rather than encouraging splurging, the company aims to promote careful spending and sticking to a budget to ensure you practise healthy shopping habits.
The flexible payment options allow you to buy things you need or want in a way that doesn’t break your bank. Download the app and register yourself; within a few minutes, you can shop to your heart’s content!
How to use the Atome app
- Shop from a partnered merchant and click Atome when you’re checking out.
- Enter your account particulars after being redirected and click checkout to continue.
- Pay 1/3 of your purchase upfront and the rest in two monthly payments.
Shopping with Atome is easy, convenient, and budget-friendly. With a wide portfolio of partnered merchants, the payment app allows users to access products and services across fashion, accessories, travel, lifestyle, sports gear, and so much more.