Joe's Thoughts: The Future of eCommerce

The Future of eCommerce

Around eighty years ago, your morning probably would’ve started with you checking your front porch. You would probably find all your morning necessities right there, fresh bread, milk, and the morning paper. It was an entirely different approach to delivery than what we have now. Fast forward to the present, and that kind of service has all but died out. Today, if you want some fresh bread or milk, you’d probably just drive out to the nearest grocery store to get it, and that’s not an entirely bad thing. There’s a lot more variety now than there was in the past, the general quality of goods is higher, and it’s easier to get what you want. Yet there are some recent eCommerce projects that are turning our current method on its head. Some online grocery sites, like Fresh Direct, aim at changing the way we look at shopping. These services will deliver produce to your doorstep every day, with the same variety as modern convenience stores. Grocery shopping, however, is not the only industry that is changing. The future of eCommerce has much larger implications.
Consider for a moment a hypothetical situation. You’ve just remembered that you have to get a gift for a friend’s birthday. Unfortunately, none of the local shops sells a suitable gift for him, and you only have a few hours left to get the present to him. If this situation happened today, you would most likely have to make do with what you have, and settle for a lesser gift bought from the neighborhood. What if, however, you could place an order online for the perfect gift, and receive it only a few hours later? Some rare large eCommerce retailers are already offering same-day delivery in certain areas, and the prominence of this kind of service with lightning-fast shipping speeds can only increase. Online retail sales jump every year, and as more sales move from traditional brick and mortar storefronts to eCommerce, more warehouses are being built all around the world. eCommerce fulfillment technology also continues to advance. Transactions and shipping information will be processed quicker and more efficiently, and as robotic technology becomes more common and affordable, so will the traditional pick, pack, and ship process. All of this will contribute to decreasing the amount of time an order spends in the warehouse, and increasing overall shipping speeds and efficiency. In other words, the retail environment will shift from a traditional storefront focus to an eCommerce focus. The future of eCommerce and online business in general may end up drastically changing how we acquire products.

That’s not to say traditional storefronts will be abandoned. There will always be people who want immediate gratification, who want to browse, who don’t want to use the internet, who want to actually examine the product they are purchasing with their senses. But there will be a far more even distribution of traditional retail sales in comparison to eCommerce retail sales, as advancing technology and experience slowly erodes the advantages of traditional retail. As the online retail industry matures, the infrastructure to support it will undoubtedly progress as well, leading to a greater diffusion of fulfillment centers, more advanced technology, faster delivery and shipping speeds, and greater variety.

How do you think the landscape of eCommerce will look twenty years from today? Where do you think the future of eCommerce will take us?