Models of E-Retailing

26/05/2024 0 By indiafreenotes

E-retailing, short for electronic retailing, refers to the buying and selling of goods and services over the internet. It encompasses various business models, including online marketplaces, direct-to-consumer sales, subscription-based services, and more. E-retailing offers convenience to customers, global reach for businesses, and diverse sales channels. It requires robust digital infrastructure, secure payment systems, and effective marketing strategies to thrive in the competitive online marketplace.

E-retailing, or electronic retailing, encompasses various models that businesses utilize to sell products or services online.

Online Marketplace:

Platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba provide a marketplace where multiple vendors can list and sell their products. These platforms typically charge sellers fees or commissions on sales.

  • Wide variety of products from multiple sellers.
  • Established platform with built-in customer base.
  • Competition among sellers may drive prices down.
  • Platform fees or commissions apply.


Traditional retailers with physical stores extend their operations online. They maintain both offline and online channels, offering customers the convenience of shopping through multiple channels.

  • Omnichannel presence offers convenience to customers.
  • Established brand recognition from physical stores.
  • Synergy between online and offline sales channels.
  • Operational challenges in managing inventory and logistics across channels.

Direct-to-Consumer (D2C):

Brands sell directly to customers through their own websites or online stores. This model allows brands to have more control over the customer experience, data, and pricing.

  • Full control over branding, pricing, and customer experience.
  • Direct access to customer data for targeted marketing.
  • Requires investment in building and maintaining an e-commerce platform.
  • Customer acquisition and retention are critical.


Businesses offer products or services on a subscription basis, where customers pay a recurring fee for access. Examples include subscription boxes (e.g., Birchbox) and streaming services (e.g., Netflix).

  • Predictable recurring revenue stream.
  • Strong customer loyalty and engagement.
  • Continuous need for value addition to retain subscribers.
  • Potential challenges in scaling and churn management.


In this model, retailers don’t keep products in stock. Instead, they partner with suppliers who ship products directly to customers. The retailer acts as a middleman, handling marketing and customer service.

  • Low upfront investment as inventory is not held.
  • Wide product range without the need for warehousing.
  • Dependency on suppliers’ reliability and shipping times.
  • Thin profit margins due to competition and supplier fees.

Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding:

Some e-retailers utilize crowdsourcing platforms to generate ideas for new products or designs. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo allow businesses to pre-sell products to fund production.

  • Engages customers in product development and validation.
  • Pre-sells products to fund production, mitigating financial risk.
  • Requires strong marketing and community-building efforts.
  • Success relies on delivering promised products within agreed timelines.

Social Commerce:

Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest enable businesses to sell products directly within their platforms. This model leverages the social aspect of shopping and often incorporates user-generated content.

  • Leverages social networks for product discovery and sales.
  • Highly visual and interactive shopping experience.
  • User-generated content drives engagement and authenticity.
  • Integration with social media algorithms impacts reach and visibility.

Flash Sales and Daily Deals:

Websites like Groupon and Woot offer limited-time discounts on products or services, encouraging impulse purchases and creating a sense of urgency among consumers.

  • Creates a sense of urgency and excitement among customers.
  • Drives impulse purchases and customer engagement.
  • Requires strategic pricing and timing to maximize sales.
  • Risk of customer dissatisfaction if products or services don’t meet expectations.

Affiliate Marketing:

Retailers partner with individuals or other businesses (affiliates) who promote their products or services in exchange for a commission on sales generated through their referral links.

  • Low-risk marketing strategy based on performance.
  • Tap into affiliates’ existing audiences for targeted reach.
  • Commission-based structure incentivizes affiliates to drive sales.
  • Requires effective affiliate management and tracking systems.

White Labeling and Private Labeling:

Some e-retailers purchase products from manufacturers and sell them under their own brand (private labeling) or under another brand (white labeling). This allows retailers to offer unique products without manufacturing them.

  • Offers exclusivity and differentiation without manufacturing overheads.
  • Flexibility in branding and product customization.
  • Reliance on supplier quality and consistency.
  • Marketing and brand building are crucial for success.