Since eBay and Amazon took off in the late 1990s, entrepreneurs have launched thousands of e-commerce businesses. Some failed, some profited, others thrived. Many of these firms are quite successful and have become household names. Apple,, Tesco, QVC are just some of the world’s biggest e-commerce retailers.

The amount of companies created literally overnight boggles the mind; sure, some of the biggest e-commerce firms already had an established brick-and-mortar presence (Macy’s, for example), but plenty of totally new brands went from unknown to can’t-miss commodity in (what seems like) 15 minutes.

The E-Commerce Explosion, Viewed Differently

As of this blog’s publication, well over 100,000 e-commerce companies produce viable profit margins; according to RJ Metrics, there are about 110,000 such firms in existence. For argument’s sake, let’s put the e-commerce “tipping point” at the year 1995; this is approximately when companies (both old and new) started to realize the importance of online traffic; in other words, 1995 is when the dollar sign-shaped light bulb first went off in the minds of creative, enterprising, internet-oriented marketing personnel. Working from this baseline, and assuming 100,000 e-commerce companies were created since 1995, a rough estimate emerges on the annual number of new internet businesses: 5,000 per year, since 1995.

That’s about 13 new firms every day, 7 days per week, for the last 20 years. Or, one new profitable e-commerce company every 2 hours since 1995!

But here’s another interesting question to consider: how many e-commerce companies weren’t launched due to preconceived notions about running a business online? The “conventional wisdom” about traditional business growth probably stopped would-be e-commerce companies. And plain old fear of the unknown always pumps the brakes on profit aspirations.

13 new firms per day sounds impressive, but why weren’t there 15 per day, or 20? Of course, business growth is rarely exponential; a ceiling exists somewhere that caps the total amount of e-commerce businesses. But misconceptions and ignorance about e-commerce still lingers, even 20 years after that mid-1990s tipping point.

Common Myths about Starting an E-Commerce Business

Here are a few of the most widespread falsehoods about building an e-commerce business:

I need a team of IT experts, or at least a web consultant, for day-to-day operations.

This reason prevents more e-commerce companies from getting started than just about any other. Many people think you need a B.S. in computer science to establish and grow an online company, but that’s simply not the case. Instead of hyper-focused technical aptitude, all you need is passion, a product or service and the determination to see it through. Most e-commerce founders aren’t well-versed in coding or analytics – that’s something to remember if you’re starting an e-commerce business.

To make money, I’ll have to spend a lot of money.

The common misconception about e-commerce is that money is required to make money. Amazon didn’t start with billions in the bank; in fact, founder Jeff Bezos started the internet giant in his garage after quitting his full-time job. Their story is very similar to other e-commerce firms.

Making an e-commerce website is drastically different – and more complicated – than a regular website.

Not really. Thanks to innovative, powerful and user-friendly e-commerce seller tools, getting an e-commerce enterprise up and running is just as easy as starting a blog. For example, Ecwid’s shopping cart platform offers a full suite of gadgets, add-ons and e-commerce tools for seamless online transactions. In essence, Ecwid can turn a regular website into an e-commerce portal in no time at all. Regardless of your content management system or current template, it’s easier than ever to build e-commerce capability from the ground up – in just a few clicks!

Even if I launch my online business, hundreds (maybe thousands) of websites are already selling similar products. So why bother?

OK, this one is true, to a degree. Even the most “unique” products or services have some sort of precedent; however, owning your particular brand highlights what makes your company unique – and why customers should consider clicking the “Buy” button. After all, Target and Walmart offer amazingly similar products, yet both find a way to profit. Optimum value price points, environmentally-friendly credentials, personalized options, unique flair – there are many ways to set your service or product apart from the competition.

E-commerce sales are projected to hit over $3 trillion world-wide by 2018. Will your idea be part of that growth? “Nothing risked, nothing gained.” Getting your online business launched these days requires increasingly minimal risk – and the potential gain makes the prospect more attractive than ever! What’s holding your internet business back? Whatever it is, we hope it’s no longer myths and rumors about e-commerce.

  • John

    Great article. I agree with what you said about the notion of not starting one because of the myths you’ve mentioned. I just recently started an e-commerce retail and for sure there are road blocks. For example I ran into two major hurdles, just because you can source products from an authorized distributor does not mean you are an authorized reseller. Which to me is a huge hurdle. And the ability to drive traffic to your website. In summary, these two are what makes it extremely hard for new resellers to jump into the retail pool with out actually having a storefront.

    BTW, any advice, suggestions, or encouragement you might have, send them my way.

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