The e-retailing(less frequently; e-Retailing, e-Tailing, etc.) is the concept of selling of retail goods using electronic media, in particular, the internet. The vocabulary electronic retailing, that used in internet discussions as early as 1995, the term seems an almost in evitable addition to e-mail, e-business and e-commerce, etc. e-retailing is synonymous with business- to- consumer (B2C) transaction model  of e-commerce. Although e-retailing is an independent business model with certain specific constituents like; trust model, electronic transaction process, etc, but in reality it is a subset of e- commerce by nature.

E-Retailing stores sell online promotion only for goods that can be sold easily online, e.g., Amazon did for Books & CDs, etc. The online retailing require lots of displays and specification of products to make the viewers have a personal feel of the product and its quality as he gets while physically present in a shop.

E-Retailing refers to retailing over the internet. Thus an e-Retailing is a B2C (Business to customer) business model that executes a transaction between businessman and the final consumer.  E-Retailers can be pure play businesses like or businesses that have evolved from a legacy business such as  The e-retailing is a subset of e-commerce.  Thus, e-commerce is the master domain defining the e-retailing operation.

Essentials of E-Retailing

Electronic retailing or e-tailing, as it is generally being called now, is the direct sale of products, information and service through virtual stores on the web, usually designed around an electronic catalogue format and auction sites.  There are thousands of storefronts or e-commerce sites on the Internet that are extensions of existing retailers or start-ups.  Penetration of computers and proliferation of the Internet has given rise to many new forms of businesses, such as business process outsourcing, call centre based customer relationship management, medical transcription, remotely managed educational and medical services and of course, electronic retailing.

There are certain essential ingredients for an electronic retailing business to be successful.  One must consider these components well in advance before setting up an electronic storefront.  These essential components are:

  • Attractive business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce portal
  • Right revenue model
  • Penetration of the Internet 

E-Catalog It is a database of products with prices and available stock.

Shopping Cart The customers select their goodies and fill shopping cart.  Finally, as in a real store, at the time of checkout, the system calculates the price to be paid for the products.

A payment gateway Customer makes payments through his/her credit card or e-cash.  The payment mechanism must be fully secure.

Support Services in E-Retailing

The electronic retail business requires support services, as a prerequisite for successful operations.  These services are required to support the business, online or offline, throughout the complete transaction-processing phases.  The following are the essential support services:

  • Communication backbone
  • Payment mechanism
  • Order fulfillment
  • Logistics