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The Digital Business Kit for Retailers


Learning Outcomes

Retailers will understand the different technology and strategies that can assist their retail businesses to begin or improve selling their products and/or services online. [printfriendly]

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Retailing services online

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Retailing services online involves the customer paying to access a service rather than buying a physical or electronic product. Services can be accessed online for a limited period of time, such as a license period, or for ongoing access, such as subscribed services. Other services can be purchased online and provided one-on-one by the vendor, such as coaching, consulting, etc.

Online services are delivered online to customers and provide an opportunity for ongoing revenue streams, such as periodic renewable license fees or monthly subscription fees. Online software application, also known as Software-as-Service, are often sold under a license fee for a specified period of time. Content services, such as video streaming, can be sold using monthly subscriptions that may be automatically renewed.

Other services may be sold online for delivery either online and/or offline, such as professional services for accounting, tax returns, and other consulting services.

Business models of selling services online

    1. One-on-one: Vendors advertise their personal services and, buyers pay vendors directly or may pay through the market channel provider. ie. www.elance.com
    2. Software-as-Service (SAS): This is a software application hosted online. Instead of downloading the software to the local computer, users go online and login to use the product. There is an enormous range of SAS from accounting to customer relations systems. This model can offer greater revenue to the company who makes the SAS over long term, as it can be scaled more easily than other models. For example, once the platform is built, every customer sale involves a unique login and username being provided to the customer, and in extension, it gives the customer access to the “product” vs. making a new product for every sale.


Examples of SAS or service marketplaces include:

  • Freelancing/service: www.elance.com or www.odesk.com are websites that host thousands of people offering services for sale including writers, assistants, designers and much more. This platform makes it easier for buyers to search for and buy from service providers.
  • SAS: www.capterra.com is an example of an online software sales aggregation platform. The companies listed, all offer Software-as-Service.