E-Commerce Business Guide

Updated: February 15, 2023

Welcome to the E-Commerce Business Guide


What is the E-Commerce Business Industry?

E-Commerce is a trending pathway where the use of online platforms promote and sell products. Some retailers may operate both brick and mortar stores as well as offering an online retail service. E-commerce can include the sale of goods via online auction houses, or through third party retail websites purchase of goods, typically in small quantities, over the internet directly to consumers. E-Commerce may also encompass wholesale businesses that are involved in trade, often international, of either durable or non durable goods of all sorts. A wholesale business may be involved in purchasing products in mass quantities from manufacturers or producing their own goods to distribute to retailers. In recent years, wholesaling has included selling single units directly to consumers via online platforms. Wholesalers might specialize in a particular product (such as books or shoes) or offer a variety of bulk products.

person holding mobile phone and credit card shopping online
Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

This guide can offer a launching point as you embark on your secondary market research for your business idea. Work through the questions and resources to develop strategies for accessing reliable business information as part of your planning process. While doing your own primary market research will ensure you get the exact data you need, it is usually very time consuming and expensive. Believe us -- it is well worth your time to learn how to find publicly available statistics and data first. We'll point you to as many freely available, online sources that we can find, but keep in mind that there are many resources available at your local public, college or research library. 

Guide Outline

This Accelerator Guide is organized into four sections designed to help you focus your research. Each section will highlight what goals you'll achieve, as well as questions to get you thinking about the kind of information you'll likely need. In no time you will be an expert DIY researcher! You'll need to use the menu on the left to explore each section but here is an outline you can follow.

  1. Getting Started has introductory materials like how-to books, sample business plans and general start-up information.
  2. Industry Info has sources outlining the current status, outlook, and trends for your particular industry or sector and more.
  3. Competitive Info has sources for outlining your competitive market, including potential competitors and market share.
  4. Customer Info has sources that will help you develop your market analysis and learn about the demographics of your target market and your customers' needs.

Need Other Help?

If you're looking for in-person help be sure to check out the BC Business Support Directory for help in your specific community. If this is your first time doing secondary market research you might want to follow our step-by-step Business Research Basics. In the Learn Business Basics section of this website you will find curated lists of resources on many business topics from marketing, top business planning to a wide selection of free web-based tools to help you with your business development.