Looking into the future: how the ecommerce industry will evolve in the years to come

The expansion of the internet has changed the business world forever, marking an important cornerstone for commerce with the birth of online shopping.

From then on, the sky was the limit. In a relatively short period of time ecommerce took over the retail landscape and it shows no signs of stopping.

We’re all slowly but surely turning into avid digital buyers. If you need any statistics to prove just how big the ecommerce industry has become in the past few years, here they are. The data shows that in 2019, retail e-commerce sales worldwide reached almost 3.5 trillion dollars and e-retail revenues are expected to amount to approximately 6.5 trillion dollars by 2022. Studies also reveal that online shopping is amongst the most popular online activities at global scale.

You get the picture: the ecommerce industry is alive and thriving and judging by the numbers this trend is going to continue in the years to come. But it’s exactly this meteoric rise that gets people excited and wondering about what’s going to happen next in this flourishing industry. We don’t have a crystal ball and we don’t presume to hold all the answers either, but looking at some of the most popular predictions we can draw a few conclusions regarding the future of ecommerce.

More online purchases than ever

Although experts in the field have been going on and on for years about the rapid progress of the ecommerce industry, and we have all witnessed its evolution, the truth is it didn’t happen overnight, nor did it put a sudden halt to the brick-and-mortar economy. But now, in the current pandemic context, ecommerce sales have shifted into high gear and this is probably not just a temporary phase as some assumed.

Companies that were forced to close down their physical stores experienced a significant growth in online purchases. The public has become accustomed to the convenience of online shopping and they aren’t likely to go back to their previous shopping habits. Scalability issues can arise for businesses that weren’t prepared for this boom, which highlights the necessity of choosing an ecommerce platform that can support growth. As a result, a lot of retailers will transition from their old software to platforms that can handle large sales volumes such as Shopify Plus in order to keep up with the high demands from their customers.

The rise of B2B ecommerce

If until now the ecommerce landscape was dominated by B2C transactions, things are about to change and take a positive turn for B2B companies. We’re going to see a notable rise in B2B ecommerce in the next few years. It’s not just a matter of wholesalers providing products for retailers anymore. SaaS and technology companies are at the forefront of this movement.

The competition in the business world is growing fiercer with customers being more demanding and having higher expectations than ever, prompting companies to invest more in automation and go the extra mile to meet the newly set standards. We see more businesses focusing on purchasing software, products and services to improve operations and improve staff performance. There’s a visible shift towards embracing automation and technology and leaving manual tasks behind, leading to an unprecedented rise in B2B purchases. This is going to benefit both consumers, whose lives are being made easier, and businesses that will experience higher profits.

Emerging ecommerce markets

We already know that the US has a big share of the pie in the ecommerce industry, but things will get even more interesting in the future as more players are joining the game. Emerging markets such as India, China, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa are going to enter the competition and spice things up. By 2022 almost 3 billion people living outside the US are expected to gain access to the internet and tap into the online shopping experience, opening the door towards a whole new world of purchasing possibilities.

That translates into an impressive number of potential customers and sales, and the possibility for established business to branch out and explore these new markets. But existing companies are not the only ones that will benefit from these emerging markets. We’ll also see a lot of local ecommerce startups take off in these areas, with high chances of thriving in the industry.

Sustainability takes the lead

Environmental concerns have become a highly debated topic in recent years, and that led to a shift in consumers behavior. Companies can no longer lure the audience by bragging about the quality of their products or their competitive prices. Not even excellent customer service is enough to satisfy the demanding customers nowadays. People expect more from the brands they choose to support. They expect companies to embrace eco-friendly values and become proactive in reducing their carbon footprint and caring for the environment.

More companies will align themselves with these values and will adopt an environmentally conscious approach. What does that mean? Brands will opt for eco-friendly supply chains in order to reduce waste and improve efficiency, employ sustainable manufacturing methods or use zero waste packaging for their products.

Blending the online with the offline

We’ve been hearing about the war between online and physical stores for quite some time now, but in reality, there’s no need to pick a side. In fact, brands will go for a much smarter approach and blend the two worlds. That means we won’t witness the absolute supremacy of online retail and the extinction of brick-and-mortar shops. We’re only going to experience a transformation of physical stores as we know them.

Ecommerce companies acknowledge the fact they can’t replicate the in-store experiences, so in order to keep all their customers happy they’ll venture into the offline realm and give their clients the best of both worlds. How exactly will they do that? Through pop-up stores or brick-and-mortar shops that will focus on offering consumers unique shopping experiences that can’t be found elsewhere.