Difference Between Retail and Ecommerce

Over the past ten years, e-commerce sales have exploded, increasing from 4% to 15% of the total U.S. retail industry, or by...

Written by Niel Patel · 3 min read >
ecommerce vs retail statistics

Over the past ten years, e-commerce sales have exploded, increasing from 4% to 15% of the total U.S. retail industry, or by around $1.4 trillion in sales. Nonetheless, physical stores are still present despite the growing popularity of online retail purchasing and e-commerce.

In fact, the resurgence of brick-and-mortar stores is one of the unexpected themes of the post-pandemic era. For many customers, going to a physical store gives them an opportunity to do something other than shop online or from their homes.

Emerging companies are in an exciting situation as e-commerce expands in importance and scope and traditional retail establishments make a comeback.

Describe e-Commerce

E-commerce, like the majority of things on the internet, has an abbreviation. Given that it is already effectively a word, you might find this odd. Indeed, e-commerce stands for electronic commerce by eCommerce development services. Despite the fact that it has developed into a whole sentence in and of itself. Thus, the “email” version is utilized more frequently than abbreviations like SEO.

Simply put, eCommerce refers to the buying and selling of goods through the internet. It addresses the information and money transfers required to finish these transactions. Services and products are both included in eCommerce. Ecommerce can be divided into two categories: business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions. In B2B transactions, businesses buy from each other; for example, a local pastry shop might sell its goods over the Internet to grocery stores or restaurants nearby. In B2C transactions, companies sell directly to consumers, they don’t have any middlemen involved in their sales process like wholesalers or distributors do; instead they just interact directly with customers who have made purchases online through websites such as Amazon Prime Now which offers delivery within an hour!

What Is Retail?

Retail is a business that sells goods or services to customers through multiple channels of distribution to earn a profit. Retailers satisfy demand identified through a supply chain, which includes manufacturers who make the products they sell, wholesalers who purchase from manufacturers and re-sell the items at higher prices to retailers, and finally retailers who sell those products directly to consumers. Retail stores (like your local grocery store) are one type of retailer that stocks inventory in a warehouse before selling it directly to consumers.

Businesses that are predominantly B2C (business-to-consumer) oriented are involved in online retail. These companies are attempting to sell goods to final customers.

Direct-to-consumer, or D2C, online retail is currently the most common. It encompasses companies that sell and deliver goods directly to customers. D2C enables brands to obtain client data, manage their brand image, and get rid of distributor expenses.

With the direct-to-consumer (D2C) business model, the consumer deals directly with the brand, avoiding any middlemen. Online retail companies aim to give customers an identical shopping experience to what they would get in actual stores.

Retail Store Types

Retail transactions can take place both online and offline, as we already mentioned. The most significant retail locations are listed below:

  • Specialty retailers. This kind of retail establishment, such as a clothing store, typically offers a limited product selection that consists of only a few product lines. Home Depot and Staples are two examples of specialty retailers in the United States.
  • Shopping centers. These retail establishments are more sophisticated and offer a wide range of product categories. Target, Dollar Tree, and other such retailers are the most well-liked department stores in the US.
  • Grocery stores. These stores typically include a limited selection of high-priced convenience items including coffee, snacks, and tobacco goods, and are found in residential areas.
  • Bargain shops. These shops concentrate on making more sales at lower margins. An illustration of a bargain retailer is Target.
  • Supermarkets. These retail stores focus on selling groceries and home goods.
  • Hypermarkets. Hypermarkets are simply big supermarkets. They are enormous shops with large product displays. Hypermarkets that compete with malls may combine several specialty retailers.

For example, a mall may include an electronics store next to a clothing store next to a toy store or ice cream shop! With so many options in one place, it’s easy for customers to get overwhelmed when trying to decide what they want from their shopping trip. That’s why some people prefer online shopping over visiting physical locations like these because it allows them more time before making purchases and helps narrow down their choices by curating only those products that meet their needs most closely.

E-commerce and Retail Differences 


E-commerce describes business dealings done through an electronic network, such as the internet. It’s a subset of retail, which is the process of selling goods or services directly to customers through multiple channels.

 The sale of items in modest quantities from a single location, such as a department store, supermarket, shop, or mall, is referred to as retail.

In other words: E-commerce is buying stuff online; retail is buying stuff in person.


Whereas retail is only available to customers within a given region and may not be open 24/7, e-commerce is accessible since it serves clients across a broad geographic location and is open constantly. Customers can shop online from anywhere at any time 24 hours per day 7 days per week without having to drive anywhere (accessibility). The products can be delivered right at their doorstep within minutes after they’ve ordered them.

Putting the Customer First

E-commerce focuses more on and reaches more consumers. Retail, on the other hand, focuses on and reaches fewer consumers.

Marketplace Rivalry

Retail competition is local, whereas e-commerce competition is worldwide.

Initial Expenses

While beginning an e-commerce firm is inexpensive, opening a retail store is more expensive because of added expenses like store rent.

Shipment Charges

Due to delivery expenses, e-commerce is expensive. Yet, there are no shipping fees in the retail industry.

Options for Payment

The option to pay with cash is available in retail but not in e-commerce.


Yet, online shopping will surely take over in the future, and the process won’t be all that different from what it is now. The key is to remember that certain elements, such as data analysis and attention, individualized interactions with clients and customers, and effective business administration, will always be important, regardless of how shopping evolves.

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