An e-tailer is a retailer that primarily uses the Internet as a medium for customers to shop for the goods or services provided.
Types of e-tailers
Two distinct categories of e-tailers are pure plays and bricks and clicks. A pure play e-tailer uses the Internet as its primary means of retailing. Examples of pure play e-tailers are Dell and Amazon.com. A brick and click e-tailer uses the Internet to push its goods or service but also has the traditional physical storefront available to customers. Combining this new type of retail and the old of a general store is a new type of store which is part of the green economics movement, promoting ethical consumerism.
Advantages of e-tailing
E-tailers who take part in pure play–type business have the opportunity to turn higher profit margins, due in part to the fact that many of the overhead expenses associated with a physical retail space, such as labour, retail space, and inventory, can be significantly alleviated. Pure play allows for a retailer to be able to reach customers world wide, while still only maintaining one location for each and every customer to visit, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Disadvantages to e-tailing
Many studies have shown that e-tailers are failing to meet the needs of online customers and that they generally only have one chance to make a good impression if they want their customers to return. It is said that the three most important things that e-tailers today must work on to ensure profitability are "search, support and promotion."
E-tailers must also abide by many rules, regulations, and legislation set up by organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Electronic Retailing Association. These organizations in the United States, as well as similar ones around the world, ensure that e-tailers remain ethical in their practices and do not misrepresent products online, among many other things.
For customers, e-tailers can be a fast and convenient way to shop, but problems can sometimes occur. Examples of possible problems include lost shipments, errors in shipments, overbilled customers, faulty products, and credit card fraud. There are many organizations designed to protect the customer and his/her rights, and examples are the Better Business Bureau and TRUSTe.