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eCommerce Business vs. Traditional Business: What’re The Differences?

Whether it’s trading land for animals, exchanging coins for cloth, or swiping a credit card to buy a computer, humans have been partaking in business for thousands of years. Over the centuries, though, the way that we do business (even eCommerce) has changed dramatically.

Just 50 years ago, cash was king when it came to commerce. Then, with the creation of credit cards, banks and lenders revolutionized our payment methods. This switchover to credit cards paved the way for online purchases, something that has skyrocketed in popularity in the last year. In some cases, it was even considered to be a necessity. 

But what is the fundamental difference between traditional business and eCommerce business? Before we can understand the differences, you have to understand what an eCommerce business is and what a traditional business is. 

What is eCommerce Business?

Since eCommerce is the newer form of business, let’s start there. The “e” in eCommerce stands for electronic, just like email stands for electronic mail. Essentially, eCommerce is any sort of business transaction that happens through the use of the internet. Whether it’s exchanging information, products, or services, eCommerce allows individuals and companies to interact online without the need for either party to be physically present. 

Some examples of eCommerce include online shopping platforms like eBay and Amazon, the digital exchange of ebooks, media, or other software, and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe. 

Types of eCommerce

Just like a traditional business, an eCommerce business can happen between various parties. There are five basic eCommerce types:  Business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), consumer-to-consumer (C2C), and consumer-to-business (C2B).


With this type of eCommerce, businesses interact to fulfill orders, provide services, or collaborate in different ways. An excellent example of a B2B is shown in the way that Samsung provides product parts to Apple for its iPhones. 


The business-to-consumer type of eCommerce is probably what most people think of when they hear the phrase “eCommerce business.” This model is shown when companies sell products or services online to consumers. For example, Alibaba is an online shopping giant that provides consumers with a wide array of products for sale online. 


Consumer-to-consumer eCommerce business happens when consumers utilize the internet to sell their products or services to other consumers. Great examples of C2C eCommerce business platforms include eBay, Etsy, and Fivver. 


This type of eCommerce happens when consumers can sell their product or service to businesses via the internet. This category would include influencers that offer their promotional services to specific companies or freelancers who seek enterprises to work for online through platforms like Upwork.


No matter which type of eCommerce is being used, there are several advantages for all parties. eCommerce can save everyone involved a fair amount of time. Consumers don’t have to travel to physical locations to view products or read about services, and businesses don’t have to spend time setting up physical spaces and displays.

eCommerce also allows business transactions to take place 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This convenience is very appealing for consumers and it enables businesses to increase their profits without time constraints.

Another advantage of an eCommerce business is accessibility. Now, consumers can access businesses worldwide with the click of a button, and companies can have a global consumer base. 

Lastly, it may not be necessary for businesses to put much of an investment upfront; since they may not need a physical location or as many employees upfront. 


Even with non-stop, worldwide accessibility, eCommerce business does have some drawbacks. The biggest drawback is often the waiting period that comes with many purchases. Yes, you can buy a product with a click of a button. However, you will then have to wait for it to arrive.

For businesses, eCommerce has turned marketing on its head, which means that many traditional business marketing methods no longer make sense. It can be more challenging to convince a prospective client to buy your product when they’re not standing in front of you. 

What is Traditional Business?

Simply put, traditional commerce occurs anytime that exchange happens face-to-face. It can occur in a mall, a small shop, a farmer’s market, or anywhere else that transactions happen. 

Traditional commerce does not involve the internet, but it does include the various payment methods that are often utilized online, such as credit cards, PayPal, Venmo, and more. And, of course, traditional commerce also makes use of cold, hard cash. 

Traditional commerce even includes transactions in which no form of money is exchanged — only goods or services are. For example, someone offering to mow their neighbor’s lawn for some type of exchange would fall under traditional commerce. 


The most significant advantage of the traditional business model is face-to-face interaction. The individuals or businesses going in on the exchange together will meet and discuss their options. Consumers can physically see or try on products before purchasing them. In addition, companies can employ marketing techniques that have worked for centuries. 

Another critical advantage of traditional commerce is that people without the internet can still qualify as customers. Businesses that are not up and running online can still have consumers visit their brick-and-mortar stores. 


In essence, the disadvantages of traditional commerce are the same as the advantages of eCommerce. Traditional commerce is limited to particular schedules and specific locations. Consumers have to travel to stores during business hours to find what they need. However, they may end up finding out that it may not be out of stock at that location. 

Traditional commerce also tends to be more expensive than eCommerce. This is typically due to factors such as; paying for a building, interior design and supplies, utilities, additional employees, and more. 

The Differences Between eCommerce Business and Traditional Business

Based on all of the advantages and disadvantages above, specific differences become evident between the traditional and that of the eCommerce business model. 

The most striking difference between the two is accessibility.

eCommerce has created a world that is accessible at any time from anywhere. Traditional business, on the other hand, follows set schedules and availability. If you want to buy a new pair of jeans from your favorite store at 2 a.m., shopping online is generally the only way to do it. 

This accessibility also contributes to another difference between these two business models:  Convenience. eCommerce business has created a new level of comfort that would have been hard to imagine even 20 years ago. 

And that isn’t only true on the consumer end of things. Many businesses have found greater convenience in; locating partners, interacting with potential consumers, and quickly finding the raw materials they need through eCommerce. 

Another major difference between eCommerce business and traditional business is the way that people interact with each other. In the traditional business model, the only way to interact was face-to-face and in person. With an eCommerce business, interactions often take place online, and people may be interacting with artificial intelligence tools. Humans only get involved when something goes wrong and needs to be fixed. 

What’s Next for You?

Regardless of which type of business is preferable, eCommerce has stormed the business world and it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Recent world events have shown us that, when necessary, businesses can adapt to their environments quickly and effectively. 

Rather than staying stuck in the Stone Age, it’s time for businesses to become part of the Internet Age and take their commerce online. Print Bind Ship is an online fulfillment and shipping company that can help small and growing eCommerce businesses to take off. Print Bind Ship can help with managing inventory and providing affordable warehousing. We also handle shipping and packaging, as well as returns.

Learn more about Print Bind Ship and our free consultations today!