• E-commerce companies have had dramatic growth over the past decade. As the internet has continued its worldwide takeover, high street businesses have begun migrating to the world wide web, while newer companies, such as ASOS and Just Eat, are solely web-based.

    But, why has e-commerce become so important to our population? We’ve teamed up with Lookers, who sell new Ford Transits – voted the most economical small van for deliveries – to look at the rise of e-commerce.

    When did e-commerce become popular?

    E-commerce has quickly become a key player in catering for the buying habits of the public. This year, Nasdaq has anticipated that 18% of purchases in the UK will occur online, while 77% of us have bought goods online at some point. Millennials are the biggest users of e-commerce services, with the age group purchasing 54% of their products and services online.

    E-commerce has become a big player for brands, thanks to the low expenses. Because of this and the internet offering a wider range of custom, the popularity has skyrocketed for businesses. For consumers, they are taking advantage of the lower rates as the prices of the products represent this.

    Since 2015, e-commerce sales have more than doubled in value.

    How is it improving?

    Overseas deliveries are still very much part of our everyday life. Companies are taking advantage of e-commerce to tap into markets that they’d previously not have been able to reach. To do this, you need to produce a strategic sales and marketing plan to help you successfully convert international customers. Improved social media campaigns are one of the main ways e-commerce is improving.

    However, with more purchases taking place online, our expectation is consistently becoming more intense. Stats from an Alix Partners report show that three-quarters of Americans believe the offer of free shipping impacts their final decision on whether to buy a product. While this is the case, the maximum delivery time has continued to diminish. In 2012, those expecting free delivery were willing to wait 5.5 days for their product. By 2017 though, a full day had been wiped off that expectation.

    This has meant that e-commerce businesses have had to focus a lot of time and attention on their delivery service. This has led to many companies offering next-day delivery. While speed is important, so too is flexibility and reliability. It’s no use a customer being offered a fast delivery time if it’s not a convenient time frame. Because of this, companies like Amazon, who have even started offering ‘free’ next day delivery to their Amazon Prime customers, offer consumers the chance to choose a specific slot, meaning they know they’ll be in to receive their goods.

    By focusing on customer service, the e-commerce industry is quickly becoming the strongest player in the retail world. After all, research has found that 52% of customers won’t return to a product if they have a bad interaction.

    What next?

    Currently, there are 1.92 billion digital buyers, representing 63% of internet users. By 2021, 2.14 million digital buyers will be in the economy. The number of people making purchases that will be facilitated by e-commerce is expected to dramatically increase, too. Research has found that up to 95% of purchases by 2040 will be made using e-commerce.

    This has led to many new innovations being trialled. Amazon has experimented with in-home delivery. The concept behind this is that the consumer can remotely unlock their door via their smartphone when the delivery driver arrives with the parcel. A real-time camera connection allows for added security.

    Currently, while the industry is ready for such revelations, it appears that consumers aren’t quite there. With 68% of US adults admitting they wouldn’t feel comfortable granting a driver access to their home, it’s sure to take time for the idea to catch on.

    However, one step further has been the trial of autonomous cars. This removes any need for a delivery person, with takeaway companies ready to roll out this concept. The recipient simply types a code into the vehicle’s keypad to open a compartment where their food is kept. This is currently being tested in the States and could well be brought over to the UK in the near future.

    It’s clear that e-commerce has a tight grip on the way we shop. With new innovations constantly being introduced, it doesn’t look like the rise of the e-commerce sector will be slowing down anytime soon.

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