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Webshops: still the cornerstone of ecommerce investments

The Data Handbook

How to use data to improve your customer journey and get better business outcomes in digital sales. Interviews, use cases, and deep-dives.

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Author avatar

Emmi Tervala

Business development


New technologies have the power to completely transform sales and business processes. For the consumer, this evolving online experience still manifests where ecommerce began some 25 years ago: the webshop.


The world remembers 1994 as the year Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa, after being imprisoned for 27 years. Tom Hanks won an Oscar for Forrest Gump, we lost Kurt Cobain, and the LAPD famously chased down O.J. Simpson live on TV.

There was another significant event in 1994, although its importance wasn’t realised at the time. In August of that year, a man named Dan Kohn created a website called NetMarket to sell a Sting CD to a friend. The sale is now widely regarded as the world’s first online transaction.

Fast forward some 25 years and online shopping has become part of everyday life for people around the world. In 2020, global retail ecommerce sales are projected to reach USD 27 trillion.

Ecommerce has always been at the heart of Columbia Road. Since early 2016, we have been helping companies with the implementation and optimisations of webstores, both in B2B and B2C. And we still believe that ecommerce is at the core of digital sales, even though digital sales has evolved and transformed into much more than just ecommerce stores.

Today, it's not only B2C companies that sell their products and services online – B2B companies are also building their digital sales capabilities. While the B2C business is already full of ecommerce-first companies, B2B webshops are now rapidly gaining ground.

Investment costs in ecommerce are now lower than ever, which makes it substantially easier to launch your own webshop. Easy-to-implement platforms – such as Shopify or WooCommerce – have enabled many companies, both B2B and B2C, to launch their own webshops in just a few days. Many brands and wholesalers have launched Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) webshops that bypass retailers, improve profit margins and result in direct contact with consumers.

Ecommerce is one of the cornerstones of digital sales transformation. You cannot build AI-powered hyper-personalisation overnight – digital sales capabilities need to be built step by step. And ecommerce is a great way to start learning new tools and processes, as well as to collect consumer data. You should see your webshop as a playground where you can test ideas around which you can start building other digital sales capabilities.

Three key reasons why now is the time to invest in ecommerce:

  • Your competitors have most likely done it already
  • Investment costs in ecommerce are now lower than ever
  • It’s the first step in your digital sales transformation journey

The only question is: what are you still waiting for?

There’s a vast amount of questions on every decision maker’s lips regarding the effects of COVID-19, and what is the correct course of action to ensure business success in the future. Download Columbia Road's market research report on the topic to understand how COVID-19 has impacted consumers and companies, and what digital sales & marketing leaders think to be the key things to focus on in the future.


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The Data Handbook

How to use data to improve your customer journey and get better business outcomes in digital sales. Interviews, use cases, and deep-dives.

Get the book