What do I need to know about online sales?

E-commerce is selling goods and services online. E-commerce is a rapidly growing industry and is one of the most exciting opportunities digital technology offers Canadian businesses. In 2012, Canadian retailers made over $7 billion in online sales. That number is expected to grow. Online sales can offer a number of advantages to both businesses and consumers.

For consumers, e-commerce offers:

  • Convenient shopping from the comfort of home or work
  • More variety and access to endless selections at their fingertips
  • The opportunity to shop around for lower prices and special deals amongst competitors 

Businesses can benefit from offering consumers these advantages, and can also benefit from:

  • Access to international markets
  • Lower upkeep than a physical store with stocked product displays
  • Integrating an online store with online marketing to drive visitors to the point of sale
  • Having your business “open” 24 hours a day. Online businesses accept orders at any time and fill them during business hours.

Entering the online marketplace brings with it a separate set of responsibilities and concerns. Doing business online means accepting payments online. This involves a digital exchange of sensitive information that will need to be properly secured.

Beyond digital concerns, there are considerations and necessary permits and permissions to obtain in order to do business inter-provincially or internationally. It is also important to consider whether your business can meet the demands of doing business online, such as packaging, handling and delivery.

Ultimately, e-commerce is a fast growing sector with many opportunities for business-to-business (B2B) and consumer transactions. Digital literacy could be your key to taking part in this growing sector.

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