Online shopping has been around for about twenty-five years. When first developed, I believe it was a simple marketing tool that allowed people to save money on staples they need but never buy. In time, ecommerce expanded the concept and resulted in a massive surge in ecommerce stores. Today, ecommerce shops dominate markets all around the world, consumers just love visiting websites like in order to find the best deals online. Many people believe these companies will grow exponentially and overtake conventional retailers. To date, this hasn’t been the case. Why?

Ecommerce sites often go through strategic partnerships with traditional retailers in order to leverage their ecommerce expertise, but are not necessarily trying to actually replicate traditional sales channels. Some ecommerce sites do this very well, like Amazon. Most don’t. Walmart’s success may be a perfect example. Its ecommerce site has become one of the largest retailers in the world in the last ten years.

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Why will ecommerce not cannibalize other types of sales

I often hear “Ecommerce will cannibalize other kinds of sales.” This is the perception of all the products you buy to complete your order. But look at Walmart. Their largest ecommerce outlet is Compare Walmart’s site to, or even your local drug store. Amazon has everything in the store, from electronics to clothes. Walmart has a whole line of beauty products, but it’s different from Amazon. If you want clothes, why do you buy them at Walmart? Why buy them from Amazon? Even if you wanted to buy electronics, why did you choose Walmart? There is a brand of television you’d probably love, and you’re shopping for it at Walmart. You don’t have to go anywhere else.

I’m not saying you can’t find your products elsewhere. There are plenty of places where you can buy sunglasses and shirts. But what you’ll probably find is people that just like to shop at Walmart. They’ve discovered a similar experience at their local Walmart, which just happens to be in their neighborhood.

Ecommerce sites aren’t focusing on selling and buying the same products

The most common mistake I hear about ecommerce sites is that they are all selling the same product. There is a lot of false information out there regarding ecommerce. This is one of the biggest problems. Many ecommerce sites do not focus on selling and buying the same products. Even more confusing is the lack of focus on related, yet unrelated, product categories. Many people buy a new computer to replace their aging laptop. Some people buy shoes in order to buy shoes in a different size.

People can have the same product or market in mind at different times. If you don’t know what you want to buy and you’re shopping for something you think it is similar, look for the closest equivalent.

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