What e-Commerce Looks Like in the Solar Industry

Posted On 14 Feb 2024
Comment: Off

By: Jane Marsh

As the solar industry has become more popular and financially accessible, it has yet to enter the world of e-commerce. Now is the time for green infrastructure and procurement professionals to create online marketplaces to make solar panels even more accessible in B2B and B2C landscapes. What does it look like now, what benefits will it bring for renewable energy, and how can solar e-commerce develop?

The Advantages of e-Commerce in the Solar Industry

Why is it essential for solar to increase its digital presence? Corporate and governmental buy-in is why module prices are dipping into cost-effective ranges. Expanding access to e-commerce would make it even better. 

Consumers can research costs more efficiently and undergo the buyer’s journey more swiftly, as 74% of B2B shoppers make at least 12 or more detailed searches before clicking “buy.” Online stores expand service areas into communities with potentially no solar providers. Centralized, digital marketplaces are one of the best ways to eliminate barriers associated with solar, such as the time-consuming process of having home audits or waiting on long lists to get basic questions answered.

It saves manufacturers and providers money by eliminating overhead costs of operating a brick-and-mortar storefront. Simultaneously, e-commerce businesses may leverage data analysis and price comparison tools to offer the most competitive and informed prices. Therefore, operations may increase profits by enticing more customers while expanding renewable energy access to commercial and residential clients.

Additionally, e-commerce streamlines automating and customizing orders and quotes. With quality user interfaces — primarily when shopping on phones — customers can see bundling options, compare module versions and materials, and tailor peripherals to their home’s needs. Imagine an automatic recommendation for temporary power solutions, like generators or external batteries, alongside an introductory resource explaining its significance.

Key Players and Trends in the e-Commerce Solar Market

SolarCity, EcoDirect, Sunhub and SolarPanelStore are the most well-known names in the solar e-commerce industry, with many more to rise this year as the trend gains traction. They sell everything from modules to tracking systems, inverters and remote monitoring systems.

Solar e-commerce is a trend in and of itself, but will it bring even more novelties to the solar game? Online stores give consumers even more ways to make a purchase. Including more purchasing options empowers consumers to eliminate more financial barriers to module ownership. Similarly, buyer desires will more likely influence solar development. For example, an increased interest in machine learning and AI may enter online solar panel purchasing experiences to follow suit with other e-commerce giants.

This market will become exceedingly competitive as sellers realize how advantageous it is to have the geographic reach and market penetration offered by e-commerce platforms. As customer satisfaction becomes associated with online solar purchases, more will flock to these avenues than in-person providers.

Overcoming Challenges in e-Commerce Solar

The advantages may seem overwhelming, but they manifest only by superseding the obstacles. B2B relationships will be crucial for knowledge-sharing, advancing R&D and expediting progress for other up-and-coming renewable energy generators.

Cybersecurity is the primary concern. While traditional stores are vulnerable, there are far fewer mechanisms hackers can exploit. An attack on a digital-only business threatens the entire scope of the company — not just its online assets when it still has physical products on shelves for people to access. Threat actors may breach sites, force shutdowns and exfiltrate data from solar customers, accentuating a need for robust digital walls. It is necessary to stand up for customers while protecting the reputation of solar power.

Operators of these solar marketplaces must find straightforward ways to educate customers about the pros and cons. The experience is different from speaking to an in-person expert while they perform a home evaluation. E-commerce must ask how it can deliver genuine, reliable educational resources so buyers feel they are making informed decisions without bogging down customer support to an unreasonable degree.

Finally, stores must experiment with different tactics to create the most sensible, end-to-end customer experience for solar buyers. What steps must the seller and buyer take after the purchase is final? Do they have to complete tedious paperwork or go through several registrations and portals to schedule installation? Developing this never-before-seen infrastructure will require testing, but it will lead to market standards and appropriate expectations.

Future Directions and Opportunities

Once these challenges become non-issues, what will solar e-commerce do in the future to maintain relevance with advancing technology? 

The first is to find partnerships with related machinery and products, like smart home tech, to enable customers to reach higher levels of energy automation, independence and oversight. Solar panel e-commerce stores will realize they can offer more than solar products if they make sense to weave into a home’s or an office’s ecosystem. 

How about expanding e-commerce services beyond buying only solar products and buying power from other generators to benefit underinvested communities?

International expansion will also simplify. Solar monopolies will permeate the market in 2024, and spreading resources to make e-commerce more viable will happen as renewable development progresses.

E-Commerce Will Revolutionize Solar Sales

The solar industry needs e-commerce to catapult its market growth. With price comparisons, seamless research and cost savings, shoppers experience more transparent and readily available renewable energy options. Though COVID-19 caused the industry to stagnate slightly, installations are ramping up again, and the sector must be ready by offering modern solutions for acquiring and implementing technologies.


Jane Marsh
Editor-in-Chief at Environment.com
Email  jane@environment.co
Website  https://environment.co/

About the Author