There is no doubt that online shopping has completely changed the nature of retail shopping in the past 20 years. The entire world economy has changed because of this new way of doing business. The added competition and streamlining of the supply chain has benefitted consumers with better prices and more selection. New developments in e-commerce are showing us that we are on the cusp of a second revolution in online shopping. Here are a few trends to key an eye on this year.
You don’t need a wallet any more
In the 20th century we watched new ground-breaking technologies emerge, become ubiquitous and wane, within a generation. For example, we saw the music being sold on records, 8-track tapes, cassettes, CDs and then downloadable files, with no physical medium at all, besides the device we play songs on, such as a smartphone. Now even that physical leather wallet that fits in your back pocket or purse is going the way of the 8-track. Smartphones can now store our banking and credit card information. With technologies, such as Apple Pay, a purchase can be made with a thumbprint and a zap of the phone. Even traditional banking is evolving, as we can now send money to individuals through phone apps. We can even forgo traditional government backed currencies, by using alternative digital currencies, such as Bitcoins.
Shopping Mega Portals
A few e-commerce players have shown dominance over all the others. A few companies, such as Amazon, are worth more than some countries’ GDP. Amazon has become the world’s largest retailer, selling every type of product imaginable, even groceries. Other internet giants are expanding their business models. For example, Groupon now has local business directories and coupon pages, such as this one for Advance Auto Parts. China’s Alibaba company is becoming a major player worldwide and is also snapping up many small companies to expand its offerings.
The rise of the robots
Companies such as Apple and Google are investing big in AI, or artificial intelligence. Personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, google voice search and Amazon’s Echo are getting better at understanding what we want and are learning to anticipate our needs. These systems will become more and more a part of our lives, as we will give them mundane daily tasks to complete for us, so we can free up our time for other things. Even things like our refrigerators will be able to know when you are out of milk and will be able to order a fresh food delivery.
David and Goliath are teaming up
Small retailers have had to compete for business with online retail giants. Now the little guy can make use of the giant’s size. For example, if you are a small company that manufactures a product, you can now have Amazon physically warehouse your product, sell it on their website, ship it and take care of customer service.
Whether you are a buyer, seller or an investor, keep an eye on the development of these trends. Early adopters are the ones that will thrive in this new e-commerce age.