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The rapid development of e-commerce – what can we expect?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Snowing / Freepik)

In the past 100 years the number of shops in the UK has steadily been decreasing, reducing from 950,000 in 1920 to less that 300,000 as of 1997. Despite the fact the bricks and mortar shops have been on a decline, in line with the death of the high street, a new generation of shopping has begun to develop itself — e-commerce. From home delivery shopping, to ordering a meal without even having to speak to someone, the digital world is transforming the human experience.

With rapid growth occurring in the pasty decade, where e-commerce goes next is somewhat of a mystery. Here, we have been joined with Lookers, who stock the new Ford Transit and help us examine the rise of e-commerce. 

An increase in usage

In regard to assisting the general public in their day to day purchases, e-commerce has cemented its position as one of the most popular forms of buying. This year, Nasdaq has anticipated that 18 per cent of purchases in the UK will occur online, while 77 per cent of us have bought goods online at some point. Millennials are the biggest users of e-commerce services, with the age group purchasing 54 per cent of their products and services online.

Thanks to the fact it can be an incredibly cost-efficient method for the company utilising it, e-commerce is proving a considerably favourable option amongst big brands. Because of this and the internet offering a wider range of custom, the popularity has skyrocketed for businesses. For consumers, they are taking advantage of the lower rates as the prices of the products represent this. The figures speak for themselves as well, with online sales doubling in value since 2015.

Development

Of course, not of all us our buying every single day, however many of us are taking advantage of the fact we can browse through a range goods, from a range of international markets, with apparent ease. Companies are taking advantage of e-commerce to tap into markets that they’d previously not have been able to reach. To do this, you need to produce a strategic sales and marketing plan to help you successfully convert international customers. Improved social media campaigns are one of the main ways in which e-commerce is improving.

It should come as no surprise that the more we buy online, the more we expect. Consider it in terms of visiting a physical shop — we expect good customer service and perhaps some form of perks for loyalty. Stats from an Alix Partners report show that three quarters of Americans believe the offer of free shipping impacts their final decision on whether to buy a product. While this is the case, the maximum delivery time has continued to diminish. In 2012, those expecting free delivery were willing to wait 5.5 days for their product. By 2017 though, a full day had been wiped off that expectation.

In response to this increase in pressure from the customer, business who operate online have began to plough significant investment into their delivery service. This has led to many companies offering next-day delivery. While speed is important, so too is flexibility and reliability. It’s no use a customer being offered a fast delivery time if it’s not a convenient time frame. Because of this, companies like Amazon, who have even started offering ‘free’ next day delivery to their Amazon Prime customers, offer consumers the chance to choose a specific slot, meaning they know they’ll be in to receive their goods. The major investment into enhancing the customer service experience has helped confirm e-commerce’s position as an industry leader, especially when considering that 52 per cent of  customer wouldn’t return to a product or retailer if they were to experience a bad reaction from it.

What lies ahead

Considering there are approximately 7.7bn people in the world, its an impressive feast that there are more than 1.92bn digital buyers — a figure that is due to increase to 2.14bn as of 2021. Research, similarly, suggests that as of 2040, 95 per cent of purchases will be made online. This is obviously positive news for individual e-commerce businesses, the platform as a whole, but also the shoppers, as the more people using online purchasing facilities, the more money which will be invested, evidently enhancing the overall user experience. Amazon are currently experimenting with an in-home delivery service. The concept behind this is that the consumer can remotely unlock their door via their smartphone when the delivery driver arrives with the parcel. A real-time camera connection allows for added security.

Despite the fact Amazon might be ready to roll out such a service, it doesn’t appear that the general public are — 68 per cent of adults admitting that they wouldn’t feel comfortable granting a delivery driver instant access to their humble abode. However, this might not be a concern that the general public need to stress themselves with for too long. With several car manufacturers and tech companies pushing further along with the development of driverless cars, the general trust concerns expressed by the US public may not be an issue. This removes any need for a delivery person, with takeaway companies ready to roll out this concept. The recipient simply types a code into the vehicle’s keypad to open a compartment where their food is kept. This is currently being tested in the States and could well be brought over to the UK in the near future.

In the past century the shopping experience has significantly changed, most recently with the development of the internet and now the smartphone, which facilitates the ordering of virtually anything you can think off, all through the touch of a button. Although it may seem fairly optimistic that we will be witnessing driverless cars delivering our fast-food and shopping within the next matter of years, the sky is quite literally the limit in regard to e-commerce and technological innovation doesn’t appear to be taking its foot from the gas.

Jonathan Gilpin, Lookers