Electronic Retailing

What Does Electronic Retailing Mean?

Electronic retailing (e-tailing) is a buzzword for any business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions that take place over the Internet. Simply put, e-tailing is the sale of goods online. Companies like Amazon and Dell created the online retail industry by putting the entire customer experience – from browsing products to placing orders to paying for purchases – on the Internet. The success of these and other companies encouraged more traditional retailers to create an online presence to augment their brick-and-mortar outlets.


Electronic retailing may also be referred to as Internet retailing.

Techopedia Explains Electronic Retailing

E-tailing has expanded rapidly over the years. However, early attempts at e-tailing included overly ambitious plans for an entirely online shopping experience. Pets.com – an online retailer that failed spectacularly when the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s – stands as testament to the limitations of e-tailing in the early days of the Internet. Having customers shop for pet products online and wait for delivery proved to be impractical when those same customers could get what they needed at any local supermarket.

Since the failure of the pure e-tailing models of the dot-com bubble, many retailers have chosen a hybrid approach, which involves supplementing traditional sales outlets with an online store. As such, software and cloud solutions have emerged to allow companies of all sizes to begin e-tailing. Some larger e-tailing websites offer affiliate programs, where businesses can list goods on a ready-made platform in exchange for a percentage of sales. Although e-tailing is not ready to fully replace traditional sales outlets, it is growing at a much faster pace than brick-and-mortar stores.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.