The main advantages of the Internet are its accessibility and, unbounded opportunities, development with technology. On this basis, the fact is that e-commerce will develop permanently. The important question is how the future of e-commerce will develop in the next five years. It is necessary to identify three major factors positively affecting this area. The first is humanity, which consumes information and products remotely through services. It is the society that serves as an incentive for manufacturers to develop cyberspace. The second factor is the unlimited possibilities of coding, which allows introducing new functions and improving the old ones. Finally, the third point is the development of electronics, which serves as a bridge between the real person and cyberspace, making all e-commerce activities possible. It is necessary to analyze each factor that affects the development of e-commerce in more detail and to identify how it will evolve in the next five years.
Five Years Development of E-Commerce
New Opportunities for Small Businesses
The desire to take into account more and more customer requirements will lead to the fact that brands will fragment – their number will increase, and they will begin to work directly with customers. Products will increasingly start to be tailored to specific niches. Such small niche brands will be sold only online, but thanks to the possibilities of e-commerce, they will be able to compete with global players and sell their products all over the world (Tiwari & Lyall, 2020). Often niche brands will be launched (and are already being launched) not by large monopolists but by ordinary people. This is facilitated by digital, which has given rise to platforms like eBay and Etsy, where anyone can post their products, as well as Shopify and similar, which allow you to create your own online store (Tiwari & Lyall, 2020). One of the goals of e-commerce is to enable people to make more money. E-com helps small businesses grow faster and sell products not only in their own country but all over the planet.
Revision and Expansion of Logistic Norms
As the e-commerce market grows, the industry will need a new workforce to perform routine tasks. That’s why a variety of e-commerce players are now actively trying to robotize delivery. The introduction of drone technology will increase the efficiency, safety, and predictability of logistics and at the same time, profitability. Drone technology will help retailers not only to reduce the cost of delivery but also to expand their geography, thereby increasing the number of customers. Right now, it can be difficult and time-consuming for retailers to deliver to hard-to-reach areas (Tiwari & Lyall, 2020). Letter carriers and couriers now have to travel off-road to hard-to-reach places, which can be dangerous for them and their cargo. In the case of cars, such problems will no longer arise. Robotization will affect not only delivery but everything that happens to the goods before it (Tiwari & Lyall, 2020). The number of employees involved in e-commerce will not decrease – rovers and drones will not completely replace even couriers but only help them perform the growing volume of work, picking up the most routine tasks.
Personalization of E-Commerce
Companies will strive to offer customers exactly the products and services they need. When customers shop online, they leave behind a digital footprint that gives an idea of their interests (Tiwari & Lyall, 2020). They all have preferences about the manufacturer’s brand, the maximum cost of the product, and the delivery time. Big data is already helping companies analyze information about each customer’s interests and give them personalized recommendations for goods and services. However, experts see a much broader potential for personalization. Analyzing customer preferences will help suppliers optimize supply volumes and make production more efficient (Tiwari & Lyall, 2020). By analyzing data about what people buy, e-commerce market players will learn to tell manufacturers how likely a particular product will be in demand. So they get rid of the problem of overproduction, reduce waste, and reduce the burden on the environment.
Transformation of E-Commerce in Social Commerce
Now it is not enough for people to just buy; they also need to get endorphins. E-commerce is mimicking entertainment, and e-commerce is, in many ways, becoming social commerce. In the future, people will have new types of online leisure activities, and shopping will be built around them. Consumers already spend $150 billion a year on virtual goods, such as games and bloggers’ live streams (Mwololo, 2018, p.72). Online entertainment shopping is not just about virtual goods but also about quite ordinary goods from the real world. Sales will be made through virtual experiences – for example, test-driving a car in an online format or developing one’s own unique sneaker design, which can then be printed on a 3D printer.
Competition between Online and Offline Development
Before 2020, market participants thought that soon businessmen would all go online and that humans would be replaced by robots. However, during the pandemic, when everyone was forced to go online, they realized that customers still felt the need for live human communication. Society has appreciated all the conveniences of online life and online commerce, but as social beings, individuals still need contact with people, so offline commerce is not going anywhere (Mwololo, 2018). Some customers of physical stores may go online, but offline will not disappear completely – the two formats will exist in parallel (Mwololo, 2018). To compete successfully with the actively growing online players, classic offline retailers will have to become more creative and think more about service and quality. Traditional stores of the future will be more interesting and emotional.
E-commerce is a young, poorly regulated industry, so it can be immediately “sharpened” to meet the standards of sustainable development. The first thing market participants should think about is using more environmentally friendly modes of transport, optimizing delivery chains, and reducing the amount of packaging, especially plastic. Often goods are delivered not by the store itself but by logistics companies, and they, too, should support the trend towards environmental friendliness. One such way is to replace corporate fleets with electric cars. All online stores traditionally use a lot of packaging (Mwololo, 2018). E-commerce players are already switching to boxes made from recycled materials, and the next step is to reduce the amount of non-recyclable plastic (bags, stretch film, duct tape). In addition, with proper packaging of goods, it is possible to optimize freight transportation and use fewer vehicles.
The market of electronic commerce in the countries is actively developing, but it is necessary to think about marketing. But global experience shows that aggressive expansion is usually followed by strict government intervention to prevent the emergence of monopolies. The state maintains the principle of minimal interference in e-commerce, but it sets the strategic vector of development. And if it does change its attitude toward e-commerce, it will definitely not make drastic moves (Hoque & Bashaw, 2020). The government should not regulate the industry but monitor it – for example, by fine-tuning relations between market participants. It is critically important not to allow the excessive dominance of large marketplaces and aggregators.
New Financial Services
Today online marketplaces are not just selling goods but are creating an entire ecosystem around themselves with various services for B2B and B2C clients, such as financial services. To make it more profitable for small businesses to work with large marketplaces, they launch services for sellers. Large marketplaces will work with banks that lend to vendors, and some are already using this scheme in practice (Pandian et al., 2019). This reduces risks for banks as the marketplace sees all of the sellers’ transactions and often even keeps goods in their own warehouses and can vouch for the reliability of the particular supplier. In terms of financial services for B2C segments, it could be primarily installment payments, which are usually offered by offline stores.
Based on all of the above, the future of e-commerce in the next five years is extensive. First, e-commerce is developing permanently, simultaneously with the technologies of the Internet. As revealed in the analysis, this sphere will affect all aspects of human life. Nevertheless, the important factors influencing changes in the next five years are social consciousness, the development of internet technologies and the improvement of gadgets since all of the anticipated changes and innovations are only possible with this combination.
Hoque, M. R., and Bashaw, R. E. (Ed.). (2020). Cross-Border E-Commerce Marketing and Management. Business Science Reference.
Mwololo, H. (2018). The Future of E-Commerce. GRIN Verlag.
Pandian, A. P., Wang, H., Islam, S. M. S., and Senjyu, T. (Ed). (2019). Proceeding of the International Conference on Computer Networks, Big data and IoT. Springer International Publishing.
Tiwari, B. B., and Lyall, B. W. (Ed.). (2020). E-business: Issues and Challenges of 21st Century. Allied Publishers.