You can do it on the couch. In the bed. While sipping wine. You could even do it in a coffee shop.
It's e-shopping, obviously.
Before 1994, it didn't exist. That's the year e-shopping became a thing. Money magazine wrote up the breakthrough: An "on-line shopping service [that] requires a PC or Macintosh that's equipped with a modem."
Now listen to how it works:
"For ordering, many of the 'computer stores' offer shoppers an 800 telephone number to call. Others are set up so a shopper can click on a box next to the desired gift, type in payment information and the shipping address and then hit a 'Submit Order' button. Some companies even let shoppers pick out the wrapping paper via computer."
It was a revelation an analyst predicted to Reuters — this could be big. Right-o. E-sales of clothes, shoes, accessories, everything. The figure in 2016 was $72 billion, according to Statista. It's projected to hit $123 billion by 2018.
Stats also show that women buy more clothes and shoes online than men, and millennials hit "order" more than any age group.
The e-shop business model is a lot like any retail business model up to a point. Identify a product you want to sell. Identify the customers. Market to the customers. Perfecting inventory is the real biggie here and falls into three major categories.
Option 1: Make the product yourself, like All Birds shoes. It makes, stores and ships your kicks. The risk in this is making sure your stock levels match sales at any given time. There's a whole lot of overhead — and potential benefit — to this option.
Option 2: Buy your product in bulk from a manufacturer — think Amazon here. It buys a lot, then ships it out. This carries inventory challenges also, always trying to keep the stock at just the right level.
Option 3: Something called drop shipping. This involves no inventory, and it's common in the online clothes biz. Let's say for a blog that specializes in ponchos. As the retailer, you contract with wholesalers or distributors to actually fill orders. They have the inventory. They have the warehouses. They also get a cut financially.
The goal of drop shipping, according to YFS Magazine, is this: "If you can bring customers into your online store, you can offer them an unlimited variety of products and make a decent profit without having to pay too much up-front and without the headaches of overstocking with unsold inventory."
So e-business is much like any other. The higher the investment of Option 1, the greater the possible reward.
Then again, if nobody comes to buy your 10,000 hand-stitched ponchos, maybe you should've gone with Option 3.