The internet provides consumers with convenient and varied online shopping opportunities. The rapid evolution of e-commerce has brought about the emergence of new terms and concepts such as e-commerce and e-tail, which can occasionally cause confusion due to their subtle distinctions. So what is the difference?

E-commerce encompasses all commercial activities carried out online, including e-tail. E-tail is a specific form of e-commerce focused on the online retail sale of everyday consumer goods to consumers. The difference between e-tail and e-commerce is much the same as the difference between retail and commerce in general.

The words e-commerce and e-tail are often used interchangeably, but these concepts are slightly different. Let’s see what it is exactly, as well as 3 examples to better understand the difference.

What Is E-Tail?

E-tail is first and foremost an extension of traditional retail. It refers to selling products through online channels like websites, mobile apps, and other digital platforms.

Retailers mostly offer physical products, sometimes services, on their website, where consumers can make purchases without having to physically go to a store. They use their own online store or e-commerce website to display their products and sell them directly to the customer.

The Difference Between E-Commerce and E-Tail

E-tail focuses on the sale of consumer goods directly to end consumers, whereas e-commerce has a much wider scope of activity. Online retailers are often traditional retailers who have chosen to sell their products online as well, or businesses that only sell online.

To know the advantages of an online store for a retailer, read this article.

E-commerce includes all commercial activities carried out online, whether it is the sale of physical goods (e-tail), digital services or immaterial goods, online banking services, online auctions, online markets, electronic ticketing and business-to-business transactions. E-tail is, of course, part of these online commercial activities that constitute e-commerce.

All commercial transactions that use electronic systems, such as websites, mobile applications, e-commerce platforms, etc. are e-commerce.

While the e-tail model is mainly B2C (Business-to-Consumer), i.e., companies sell directly to consumers, e-commerce business models are much more diverse: B2C, B2B (Business-to-Business) or C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer), for example.

Examples of E-Tail and E-Commerce

To better understand the distinction between e-commerce and e-tail, here is an example of a company doing only e-commerce, but no e-tail, and 2 examples of companies practicing both:

OrderEase: B2B and B2B2C E-Commerce Platform

OrderEase offers a cloud-based solution that synchronizes retailers with distributors using a centralized platform. It connects supply chain systems with online product catalogs for fast and accurate ordering.

OrderEase allows their users to make all orders to different suppliers from one place, but not to display products for sale to the consumer. It is therefore an e-commerce platform, but not an e-tail one. However, the retailer sourcing through OrderEase can have an online store and do e-tail.

The suppliers of garden centers, pet stores or hardware stores sell on OrderEase, but they are not retailers. Whether online or by mail, they supply stores and businesses, but never deal directly with the consumer. So they don’t do retail business, but they do business with businesses. They can do the same online; it is then e-commerce, but not e-tail.

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Sephora: Physical and Online Stores

Sephora is a good example of a company operating an online store (e-tail) in addition to having a large chain of physical stores.

Sephora is a retail chain selling beauty products (perfume, makeup, skin and hair care, etc.). It is a retailer that allows its customers to purchase its selection of products in-store or online from home.

Sephora enhances the customer experience by running exclusive offers online and allowing customers to leave reviews and upload photos of themselves wearing the product. The company also manages the packaging, shipping and delivery of products purchased through its e-tail platform. Customers can track their order through to delivery, enhancing their online shopping experience.

Sephora also emphasizes personalization by making personalized recommendations based on customer preferences.

Sephora’s online store is a good example of e-tail, as it offers customers the possibility of browsing its wide range of products, buying and receiving their purchases without even having to get out of their home. Since the company does e-tail, it also does e-commerce.

Amazon: E-Tail and E-Commerce Platform

Amazon is one of the largest e-tail platforms in the world, offering a huge range of products, from books and electronics to clothing, furniture and more.

Amazon is an online retail store. They offer a huge selection of products directly to consumers who can browse the website and make purchases. Amazon also acts as an intermediary between sellers and buyers and facilitates transactions between them.

Amazon has a large catalog of products. This product list is detailed and contains descriptions, images and pricing information. There is also a section for buyers’ ratings and reviews about the products. This allows customers to gather information about the product before making a purchase decision. Amazon puts great emphasis on the customer experience.

Amazon engages in many e-commerce activities in addition to e-tail. The company offers a cloud computing platform (Amazon Web Services), a streaming service (Amazon Prime Video), a streaming music service (Amazon Prime Music), and payment and advertising services. These are just a few examples of everything Amazon does in the world of e-commerce.

In conclusion, e-commerce and e-tail are two terms that describe different approaches to online commerce, but they both share the common goal of providing convenient and accessible shopping solutions to consumers. While e-commerce encompasses all online commercial transactions, e-tail specifically focuses on online retail, emphasizing customer experience and personalization.

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