The Future of Ecommerce: Disrupting Business Methods Worldwide
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The Future of Ecommerce: Disrupting Business Methods Worldwide

So, what’s the future look like for the E-Commerce
industry worldwide? Let’s talk about the details. Today, we’re going to talk about the global
E-Commerce industry, and it’s impossible to talk about E-Commerce without starting with
the world’s giant, Amazon. Amazon came out of nowhere, selling only books online and
rapidly–very rapidly–growing into an online seller of virtually everything. Now, Amazon
makes a lot of its money selling for other parties; that is, the Amazon marketplace lets
all types of people, all types of vendors sell their products through the Amazon platform.
In the same way, China’s E-Commerce giant, Alibaba, has become a massive reseller for
other vendors; in other words, almost any business can start selling its products through
Alibaba just like they can through Amazon. So, what really sells well online? Well, to
begin with, people have become very accustomed to buying apparel online, partly because companies
like Amazon are willing to take it back if it doesn’t fit or you don’t like it. That
can frequently mean you don’t have to go to the store at all to get a pair of shoes, to
get a dress, to get a new suit. It’s not only free returns or easy returns that are driving
apparel sales online, it’s also the fact that smart website operators have added really,
really useful sizing guidelines, so that if you know you are normally such and such a
size or measurement, the product you’re looking at should be ordered in this size instead
of that. In other words, it’s becoming a lot easier to be fitted well when you buy apparel
and shoes online, and that’s really important. Companies like IKEA are also very much moving
towards online sales of big, heavy household items, including getting it to your home quickly
and using IKEA’s new subsidiary TaskRabbit to come in and assemble your furniture for
you, so you don’t have to. Entertainment tickets sell very, very well online. In fact, it’s
very common to book entertainment of just about any type by purchasing your ticket and
selecting your seat online. Entertainment is now a huge category in a physical sense,
but also of course the downloading of entertainment items, like recorded music, films, books,
all types of entertainment material are now connecting directly with the consumer online.
That brings us to travel. When was the last time you picked up a telephone to book a seat
on an airplane or on a train or on any other kind of travel method–it’s not very often.
Today, virtually all airline seats are sold online, train seats are sold online, cruises
are sold online, although clearly there are a lot of travel agents who specialize in selling
cruises, and you may interact with a travel agent directly, but that agent is very likely
to have drawn your attention in the first place through its website. Now, for years
the holy grail of the E-Commerce industry was to try to sell consumers their groceries
online, and there a lot of stumbling blocks and logistical challenges existed because
a lot of food has to be delivered fresh. You don’t want your produce to be sitting around
in a hot truck all day. Also, when you order food online, you want it promptly; you want
to order today for a meal you’re going to cook tonight or tomorrow. You want to feel
like you’re going to get the same quality if you order online that you might have selected
if you would have gone to the store in person. So, figuring out the logistics of how to get
the customer’s order online, get it out of the warehouse, packed, and even delivered
to the consumer quickly, that was just a phenomenal challenge, but a lot of companies have figured
it out very, very well. So, what about E-Commerce’s effect on the traditional retail store? That’s
where E-Commerce has been more disruptive than in any other place. Simply put, store
operators either have to adapt to E-Commerce and offer their own version of what we call
“bricks and clicks”–that is, a physical store plus the ability to order online–or else,
in many cases, simply go out of business. Now, things that are changing E-Commerce for
the future? Faster speeds. We’re looking at 5G wireless, meaning that websites are going
to load much faster than they have in the past, graphics and videos are going to load
faster if we’re using them to help enhance the sale or deliver a sales message. Advertising
methods online are becoming much more sophisticated and much more widespread, so it’s simpler
for companies with E-Commerce offerings to advertise their wares very well. The future
of E-Commerce looks incredibly bright. Sales will continue to grow as more and more people
around the world get better and better access to the Internet; meanwhile, the disruptive
effect E-Commerce is having on traditional businesses of all types is not about to let
up. Now, for more information on the E-Commerce industry, be sure to see our terrific Plunkett’s
E-Commerce and Internet Industry Almanac that we rewrite and republish every year–it’s
a standard in great libraries, great corporate offices, and great universities all around
the world–and our related Plunkett’s E-Commerce Industry Research Center at Plunkett Research
Online. Thanks.

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