In 2019, e-commerce sales have increased dramatically from the previous year and are projected to grow to 6.54 trillion dollars in 2022. Despite the pandemic, online sales are up 40 to 60% in sectors such as toys, fashion, technology, or fitness equipment creating jobs and helping the overall economy. So, what is the current state of this industry? What can we expect in the years to come?
An unexpected growth
According to Ashley Taylor, Parcel2Go’s Head of Commercial “there has been a surge in online purchases via retailers and marketplaces, as well as people sending items to loved ones. As a result, more and more people as well as SME’s have been looking for shipping solutions that met their needs.”
With most retailers still closed or just reopening their doors, it is not a surprise that most people are turning to online shopping to avoid crowds and therefore risking catching the virus. Online shopping is a more comfortable, safer, and a more personalized experience and has proven its reliability during the pandemic. Many retailers have also opted for a home delivery service to meet their customers’ needs and avoid losing their business; restaurants creating a takeaway service or bookstores delivering books to your door.
We cannot be sure how retailers and online shopping will look in the near future however we do know that, during the pandemic, customers have heavily relied on e-commerce to help them meet their needs.
A bright future
In a world of uncertainty, e-commerce seems to be a safe bet for businesses. In fact, retailers without any form of e-commerce system could see their sales dramatically decreasing in the years to come as more and more people are turning away from traditional shopping and embracing the digital world.
Mobile shopping has become more and more popular in the recent years, it is essential for brands to jump on the bandwagon by creating a great and responsive customer experience on mobile and tablet devices. According to eMarketer, mobile e-commerce sales are expected to be 72% of all retail e-commerce sales worldwide by 2021.
In the near future, businesses are also expected to use e-commerce automation to be able to cope with bigger operations and inventory. Automation is a great way to provide a more efficient and speedy service, for example being able to identify automatically high-risk fraudulent purchases or list new products daily.
Sustainability is also becoming an important selling point for brands as customers are now trying to align their values with the company they choose to purchase from. Green packaging, eco-friendly manufacturing, cruelty-free products, etc. It has been proven that customers are willing to pay more for products from sustainable brands.
Many people are worried that humans will end up being replaced by robots, especially in manual jobs, in fact it is predicted that robots could take 4 million UK private sector jobs within 10 years. Office administration roles but also transportation and logistics jobs are particularly jeopardy of being replaced by a more efficient, faster, and more intelligent machine. While robots are less prone to “human error”, it’s essential to note that they’re not flawless.
Yes, robots are perfectly capable of dealing with repetitive, monotonous tasks but they don’t perform as well during unexpected situations and not able to learn and improve themselves like a person would do. On top of that, they have no emotions and empathy making them terrible co-workers and creating an emotionless and unbalanced workplace.
Robots are also really expensive to buy and maintain, unfortunately if something goes wrong with one of the machines, you may end up losing your business or be behind in your manufacturing schedule for example. You would also need to invest a lot of time and money to see any benefit at first.
All in all, e-commerce could really benefit from automation and robotics to increase sales and improve customer experience, however it is important to highlight that there are many questions still being raised such as job losses or the possibility of security and fraud risks. Most likely, new jobs would end up being created to ensure the smooth running of the robots and new protocols would be put into place to protect people’s privacy.