Who doesn’t love online shopping?
These days, it’s a popular way to buy our favorite treats or everyday items – for some it’s even a favourite hobby. (*raises hand*)
It can be hard to imagine life without our Amazon wishlist and ASOS deliveries.
But actually, online shopping, (or eCommerce to use its official title) has only been a part of our shopping experience for a relatively short time.
E Commerce is one of the original Millennial’s, born in the mid-1990s with the arrival of a primitive Amazon and it’s second-hand-goods pal, eBay.
Perhaps you can remember the early days of online shopping? Limited product ranges. Pricey shipping costs. Bog-basic customer service (if any at all). Mass-marketing communications that couldn’t tell a Gen X customer from a Gen Y. And this was only a couple of decades ago – a mere blink in terms of shopping evolution!
But even though eCommerce has only been an option for shoppers for about 25 years, these days it’s an altogether different affair.
As it heads towards its thirties, online shopping has become a much more sophisticated experience – improving and evolving dramatically in just a few short years. As technology has advanced at a dizzying pace, the world of eCommerce has blossomed into the slick, effortless, user-friendly shopping habit that so many of us have come to know and love.
Today we get to enjoy fancy customisation options, 24/7 support, slick automation, personalised offers – even same-day delivery options! But why has eCommerce grown so much and changed so fast?
What does that mean for us shoppers? And what can we expect in the future?
With an estimated 4.3 billion internet users in 2019, online sellers have access to the largest marketplace the world has ever known.
And where there is opportunity to sell lots of things to lots of people and make lots of money – there will be no end of businesses looking to join the fun.
So, selling goods and services online is an attractive option for many businesses – both new and old, large and small, niche or mass-market. It has also become easier and easier to sell online and reach eager customers.
With the vast and growing choice of platforms such as big commerce vs shopify, the old barriers to entry have crumbled and pretty much anyone with a laptop and WIFI connection can set up an online business and sell their products.
With the potential for enormous reach and sales, as well as the reduced costs of setting up an online store, eCommerce represents a massive opportunity for both existing retailers and new businesses wanting to set up online.
It’s hardly surprising that so many businesses are either adapting to this new market or setting up new ventures to meet the ever-growing demand. And this intense growth and increasing competition is good news for us shoppers!
We have access to an incredibly diverse range of goods and service that was unimaginable to shoppers of fifty years ago. Those artisanal designers and creators that would have previously only been able to reach their local audience, now get to share their unique and beautiful creations to the whole world using the latest eCommerce platforms.
And it’s not just the range or quality of goods available – the internet has made price comparison so quick and easy that online retailers have to ensure they offer the best prices or the best service, preferably both.
Plus, many online-only retailers can afford to pass on their reduced overheads in the form of attractive prices or discounts. Again, this is great news for us choosy customers.
And this trend of catering to customer preferences looks set to continue as the global marketplace grows and competition increases. So we can expect to see even more upgrades, improvements and enhancements to our online shopping experience in the future.
It’s likely that we’ll see more personalised communications, better automation, mobile-friendly transactions and even Artificial Intelligence – all designed to help us spend more of our money in less time and with less fuss.
There will be advancements in ‘shopping-savvy‘- the fine art of sourcing the best deals for whatever we want to buy. Search engines, discount apps and price comparison sites will become increasingly sophisticated to meet the demands of legions of bargain-hunting shoppers seeking the best bang for their buck.
But alongside the tech-driven advances, there’s also likely to be a swing back to more human touches, as businesses and shoppers alike value in-person connections and 1:1 relationship-building. And ironically, all this new technology will also make it easier to find and buy bespoke products or handmade arts and crafts – which will become treasured in an age of digital commodities and mass-market sameness.
Of course, it’s impossible to say what the next game-changing tech advances or cultural shifts will be, or how these will shape online shopping – could anyone have predicted swiping up to buy on Instagram even just 10 years ago?!
So, we can only wait and see how these trends will play out in the years ahead and what they will mean for our shopping habits. But one thing is certain – the rise and rise of eCommerce has opened up a vast and exciting new world of opportunity for selling online, and the future will be bright for us shoppers.