Ecommerce vs. Retail - Which One is Better and Why?

by Ereeqa Toheed 8min read
Are you confused between eCommerce and Retail? Do you want to know which platform best suits your needs? Read on to find more.

Many people find themselves confused about the future of commerce. They don't know where to invest and how to start their new business, partly due to the rise of the ecommerce industry and the proliferation of new technological tools and techniques. And partly due to the arrival of more companies in the e-commerce landscape. 

If you are one of the brick-and-mortar businesses searching for a solution for the same confusion, let us embark on this journey together and find out which ecommerce platform is the best for your business.

What is E-commerce?

Just like a physical world of commerce, ecommerce is a digital concept assigned to the idea of selling your products online through commercial transactions carried out over a network.

However, unlike typical physical selling methods, ecommerce lets you reach out to a large customer base via the powerful internet. People are connected via their laptops, mobile phones, tablets, etc. 

Companies list their products online so customers can view the product portrayals, prices, and images. Upon choosing an item, the customer can pay for the goods through an electronic payment method. Types of ecommerce:

  • Business to Consumer (B2C) – This is the sale of products and services from a company to a consumer

  • Consumer to Consumer (C2C) – This is the sale of goods and services from one consumer to another.

  • Business to Business (B2B) – The sale of goods and services from a company to another business enterprise.

Advantages of ecommerce:

  • You can sell anywhere in the world

  • The cost of starting an ecommerce business is low

  • Customers can shop on a 24/7 basis

  • It authorizes a comparison of products pricing from different e-commerce sites

  • It’s convenient as customers can shop from the comfort of their homes

What is Retail?

Retail is the sale of goods in small quantities from a single point where customers will purchase them at the nearest store, such as a departmental store.

The retail model lets customers physically examine products and read product descriptions. The mode of payment is cash, credit cards, and mobile payments.

Even with technological refinements that led to the evolution of ecommerce, the retail business is still flourishing, with physical shops being opened in shops, malls, and airstrips worldwide.

Advantages of Retail:

  • Buyers have a face-to-face interaction with the seller, improving the possibilities of a sale

  • Consumers can see and even feel a product before purchasing; this minimizes the chance of purchase returns

  • Goods are received immediately after a purchase

  • No shipping cost

  • Return and exchange of purchased products are hassle-free

Retail and ecommerce, what's the difference?

Retail and ecommerce appear the same on a technical level as both involve selling and purchasing goods from a company to a consumer. 

However, Retail comes with its limitations. Unlike ecommerce, retail business owners cannot reach out to a broader audience while being located in one city or one country. They are only visited by the local customer, so the potential of scaling a business is only possible via opening branches all over the city, country, and all over the world. 

Whereas ecommerce lets you put your product in front of a customer with no or nominal cost regardless of where they are. 

Retail, however, gives you a brick-and-mortar establishment that allows you to interact with your customers face to face. You can also negotiate with the customer in person and respond to their queries in real-time.

With ecommerce being an electronically occurring commercial transaction, you are not there in person with the customer, but they interact with you via electronic data interchange. They view your product on your ecommerce website and check out all relevant information such as price, descriptions, shipping information, payment solution, etc.

Not being able to communicate with your customer face-to-face may be a disadvantage, but it is not entirely true.

Your customer can interact with you more engagingly, and instead of waiting for customers to reach out to you, you make your customer base before even dealing with them. This is possible via social media and digital marketing. With your ad placed at every digital touch point of your target customer, you are already halfway into making a sale with them. 

While ecommerce is trending and appears to be a more effective means of making business profit, it would nevertheless be untrue to say that retail selling is out of business. Both mediums are thriving in their own way. 

Yet the future of retail business seems uncertain in the backdrop of advanced technological innovations like AR and VR shopping methods. The world is slowly tilting towards a virtual reality where you get to do everything online, and shopping is a big part of it. 

How Shopping has already Changed: The rise of online shopping:

Technology, modernization, and evolution are interrelated. With the help of apps, software, the internet, cloud, and internet banking, the world is becoming a global village connected over the internet. 

This has impacted the world of commerce all the same Businesses are now increasingly established and growing their online presence to leverage the power of the digital landscape. 

With the growth of ecommerce, more shoppers are joining the community and looking up products they can purchase online without having to go to supermarkets or malls. They can easily compare prices, read reviews, do background checks, and pick out the product or service that suits their requirements.  

The comfort of access is one of the primary reasons shopping has altered in recent years, with the internet playing a massive part in how individuals find and purchase items. 

To take things a step further, customers can track shipments, find estimated delivery dates, and even file returns online without added cost or extra effort.

With smartphones always within reach, the whole market is now in the palm of your customer's hands. No matter the time, place, and situation, shopping can be done with just a few clicks. 

Omnichannel Retail and Beyond:

For many companies, omnichannel retail is the subsequent rational milestone for boosting sales, enhancing customer associations, and enhancing revenue. Omnichannel retail directs to a multichannel mode of driving sales.

It aspires to equip customers with an effortless purchasing venture, letting the client shop smoothly from anywhere, be it their laptop, smartphone, tablet, or brick-and-mortar store.

One engaging element of the omnichannel strategy is that customer care agents can note customers’ choices and purchases from their last shopping time.  The representative can better relate with the customer and propose products or services that match their needs. 

Whether online or in-person, this information helps guide the customer to their next purchase while giving them some autonomy. Customers may use their laptops or phones to check a company’s store inventory via the company website, which is made via the best ecommerce website builder, allowing them to purchase in-stock items or buy them online and pick them up in-store.

Omnichannel retail also has several advantages for businesses. It provides customers a diligent position in their shopping and demonstrates that they are a cherished part of your business cycle. Such as:

More Efficiency:

With omnichannel retail strategies, your business consistently provides a better experience to your customers and responds to all of their concerns. 

Thanks to the central database of products, prices, offers, discounts, coupons, promotions, etc., your customer's needs and wants are easily met, creating a better shopping experience for your brand. 

Improved Data Collection:

The more personalized experience you provide to your customer, the better they are to understand your services and products and respond positively. Gathering the correct customer data can help you personalize their experience and give you better service.

Integration of Data Analysis and Communication:

Making your customers feel like they can reach you easily will help elevate brand value.  Having multiple channels where your customer can approach you gives you an edge, enabling you to connect with your customers and better understand their needs, which results in better communication with clients, buyers, and vendors. 

Analytics fetch the data streams and make them understandable so that you can review communications and improve interpersonal bonds with consumers. 

E-commerce vs. Retail: Should I expand my Business Online?

The answer lies in assessing your business vision when deciding whether ecommerce is suitable for your business or retail model. How far do you envision your business to expand, how much do you want your client base to grow, and how long do you plan to be in the same company? 

If you aim to scale your business, expand your operations beyond geographical limitations, and extend your clientele to far along customers worldwide, then e-commerce is your answer. 

According to a survey conducted in 2021, about 27.6% of people purchase items online, making it approximately 2.14 billion buyers worldwide. 

And to capture the increasing market of e-commerce, launching your e-commerce website for your business will be an excellent move. There are several ecommerce marketplaces where you can sell online and uplift your products in the trending list. You can cater to a niche or keep it general; it's up to your liking.

Millions of people search for different products and services on the internet daily, and maybe one of them is what your business is about. So, bringing your business to electronic commerce will make things easier. Your customers will be able to find you from the comfort of their homes and will have convenient methods to purchase at any time. 


Bringing your business to the ecommerce industry may seem hectic, but it can be just as rewarding. The ecommerce industry is undoubtedly expanding by the minute, providing better opportunities to reach your customer base, but the brick-and-mortar businesses remain. It is entirely up to your preference, whether you want to keep your business to the traditional market or bring it to the world of online shopping. Either way, you can benefit from the tools and services available online to expand to more extraordinary lengths. 


Does the retail industry have a future?

Brick-and-mortar retail will thrive in the future but not as much as the online ecommerce industry. Customers want ease of shopping, and with reliability and cheaper options online, they prefer to shop from ecommerce businesses that deliver their desired items to their doorsteps. Nonetheless, the role of physical companies will still be necessary despite the growth of ecommerce.  

Is ecommerce bigger than retail?

E-commerce makes shopping efficient and less complicated; comparing prices and features online is more accessible. Customers can quickly compare products from different sellers, add desired items to the cart, and checkout. Thus, ecommerce appears more extensive and better than retail. 

Why is ecommerce the end?

E-commerce has come a long way post the covid-19 pandemic. E-commerce provided a platform for companies to sell in times of crisis and keep their businesses running. Many sellers navigated the pandemic from online shopping to curbside pickup. E-commerce has made lives more manageable, providing everything at the customer's doorstep. 

Why do you think ecommerce is the future of commerce?

After the covid-19 pandemic, more and more businesses are joining the ecommerce industry, which will grow by almost $11 trillion between 2021 and 2025. The trend of globalization and bringing your business to the marketplace where you attract customers worldwide has made ecommerce surge at lightning speed. 

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