Most businesses, large and small, now accept business to consumer (B2C) eCommerce as a stock feature of selling products and services in the modern world. With worldwide B2C eCommerce sales cracking the $1 trillion mark and over $364 billion in North America in 2012, that should comes as no shock. Yet, for all the scope of eCommerce, it does come with certain limitations.


Consumer concerns about the security of eCommerce pose a serious limitation to eCommerce. As much as someone may refuse to purchase a car with a poor safety track record, a person may refuse to engage in a form of commerce they do not trust. Such lack of trust does not come from nowhere. The 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report indicates that, in 2011, consumer cybercrime cost $21 billion in the United States alone and impacted over 556 million people globally. Until perceptions regarding eCommerce security change, those perceptions will remain a limiting factor for eCommerce.


Ecommerce grants businesses global reach, but subpar or non-existent infrastructure limit consumer access to the means of accessing eCommerce. According to a Federal Communications Commission report, as of June 2010, over 26 million people lacked access to broadband Internet service in the United States. In Europe, over 300 million people do not use the Internet. While time can remedy such infrastructure gaps, it stands as an ongoing limitation.


The field of eCommerce consists of fierce competition for the eyes and dollars of consumers. Businesses wanting to sell online must compete with entrenched eCommerce giants, such as Amazon and Staples, which brought in a combined total of approximately $58.5 billion in 2011. Businesses must also capture market share from other small vendors, many of which offer identical or nearly identical products or services. Vendors that sell custom or specialty products may face somewhat less competitive conditions due to the unique nature of their products.

Limited Interaction

Unlike shopping in a brick and mortar store or talking directly to a service provider, eCommerce places inherent limitations on interaction. At the product level, customers must make decisions based on images, product descriptions and reviews. Customers cannot handle a product to see if it feels good in their hands or weighs enough to indicate the manufacturer employed quality materials in its construction. Much of the customer service provided by those engaged in eCommerce happens strictly through digital means, such as forms on the website or an email, often with long lag times between filing a complaint and receiving a reply.