This was an increase of more than $25 billion dollars from the previous year’s e-commerce total, and this number is only expected to climb in the years ahead. The business leaders of this economic shift were the online-only stores that foresaw the possibility of having retail options without traditional retail spaces. Here is quick overview of what makes these online stores so special and a snapshot of two successful online-only stores.
|Image Credit: Am|
Why Customers Love Online Stores
While online only stores are not the only companies that offer these benefits, they have certainly led the way in forging sales practices that gratify online customers. Here are just a few of the reasons that customers choose to make their purchases through the Internet:
- Ease: Customers don’t have to travel to the store, wait in line, or shop only during store hours.
- Lower prices: You can frequently find cheaper prices, particularly for online-only stores, because there isn’t an overhead cost of a physical retail space.
- Comparable prices: Due to the internet’s wealth of information, you can also quickly compare prices within a company and between companies for a specific product.
- Online community: You can post and read product reviews, receive newsletters, and connect with other people who share your interests.
Since 1995, Amazon has been trailblazer in the e-commerce industry and continues to be one of the biggest Internet leaders today. Based on revenue figure from 2012, at $60 billion dollars, Amazon ranks as the largest e-commerce company in the country. Originally specializing in books, Amazon later chose to diversify their product selection. With an impressive show of inventory management, they currently sell everything from electronics to apparel to furniture.
From the beginning Amazon was known for its innovative strategies. For instance, the company purposefully projected an incredibly slow growth rate for profits, which had many skeptics questioning how the start-up could possibly secure investors. When the downturn of the early 2000s destroyed many Internet and technology companies, Amazon continued to follow its unique strategy. When they finally turned a profit in 2001, it was Amazon who triumphed.
They continued to lead the way in the field of e-commerce by branching out again in 2002 with a web services option. The web services option is now one of the top 10 programs available. In 2007 Amazon launched the Kindle, which allowed customers to read books, magazines, and newspapers through an electronic device. This revolutionized the book industry and the print media industry, and forever changed how people received the written word. Amazon has demonstrated repeatedly that they can transform their company to meet the needs of their loyal customers.
Zappos was founded in 1999 as an online retailer of shoes. The story of its rise from a tiny start-up to a successful brand has become a blueprint for success for many other online-only stores. While growth was initially shaky for Zappos, because of strong word-of-mouth advertising, the company hit $8 million dollars of revenue sales in 2001. By 2007, Zappos achieved $840 million dollars in revenue and officially began to turn a profit. It was also at this time that they diversified and began selling apparel and accessories. In 2009, after earning more than $1 billion dollars worth of revenue, Zappos was acquired by Amazon in a prominent and lucrative deal.
One of the main reasons for the success of Zappos is due to their commitment to customer service. All new employees are required to attend customer service training that lasts anywhere from one month to seven weeks. Customer calls do not have a time limit and occasionally have lasted for multiple hours. Zappos also extends free returns to all customers for any reason. This dedication created a very loyal customer base, with nearly 75% of their business stemming from repeat buyers.
Online shopping, or e-commerce, has become a huge market that businesses are finally beginning to harness. These online-only stores were leaders in the field and they paved the way for all of the online businesses that have followed.
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Ella Gray is a happy home maker and self proclaimed online shopping addict. Please feel free to email her at [email protected].