Having upended the world marketplace nearly two decades ago, e-commerce continues to surge as businesses scramble to meet the overwhelming demand for web-based shopping. Today’s consumers are just as likely to shop on the internet as go to a brick-and-mortar store.
E-commerce involves the sale of goods and services over the internet using secure connections and electronic payment. Its beginnings date back to 1991 when the internet was opened for commercial use. By the year 2000, large numbers of businesses were touting their products and services online, according to an Ecommerce-Land article. By the end of 2001, the Business-to-Business (B2B) model logged over $700 billion in transactions. By the end of 2007, e-commerce accounted for 3.4% of total sales.
No history of e-commerce would be complete however, without a mention of Amazon. According to an Oberlo article, the first item ordered online was a book on Amazon. Since then, the company has grown into an e-commerce giant.
E-commerce, What Is Next?
E-commerce has matured over time, revolutionizing retail marketing. Such innovations as customization, enhanced return policies, and a vast variety of products have changed the way consumers across the world purchase goods and services. According to Oberlo, which cites data from Statista (2019) and C&C Strategy Consultants (2018), a number of trends will further transform the way we shop:
- Online sales will continue to boom, projected to increase from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $4.5 trillion in 2021. More people are using e-commerce due to increased levels of trust and more attractive, efficient and customer-friendly websites.
- Mobile sales are growing, rising some 15% since 2016 with expectations that 73% of e-commerce sales will take place on mobile devices by the end of 2021. This presents opportunities for retailers to optimize both websites and online stores for mobile shopping.
- Interest in voice shopping is growing, with 13% of smart speaker owners saying they made a purchase by voice in 2017. Some predict that number will balloon to 55% by 2022. Food items, low-cost electronics and houseware products are the most popular items, as voice shopping does not lend itself to a browsing experience.
- Social media will become increasingly important in e-commerce as platforms such as Facebook (“Buy” button) and Instagram (Instagram Checkout) cash in on the action, offering businesses a tremendous opportunity to improve their presence. Also, platforms like Shopify allow retailers to link their online stores to social media platforms so consumers can make a direct purchase.
There are other trends, however, that seek to stem the flow of e-commerce, according to a story in Absolunet. For example, Amazon is receiving blowback as antitrust issues rise against the world’s largest retailer, with the removal of products from its virtual shelves by major brands like Nike and the emergence of viable competitors like Shopify.
Absolunet also says malls are evolving to provide interactions, convenience and experiences in addition to shopping. The new futuristic malls are pivoting to cater to foodies in addition to offering office space, gyms and schools in the name of convenience and varied customer experiences.
Other general trends in both brick-and-mortar retailers and e-commerce, according to Absolunet, include fast and free shipping as Amazon moves to disrupt the courier and postal service; consumers negotiating with retailers for access to their personal information, in the same way they seek rewards from loyalty programs; and emails evolving into interactive webpages to allow shoppers to browse menus, choose colors and styles and review products without ever leaving their inbox.
With e-commerce representing 10.7% of retail sales and growing, there is tremendous opportunity as businesses seek a new breed of leader who understands the intricacies of the new technologies and ways of communication driving the e-commerce explosion. Working professionals who aspire to senior management roles in e-commerce can benefit from earning an MBA. Completing an MBA program equips them with a versatile base of business and management fundamentals.
Henderson State University (HSU) offers an online MBA program that can be completed in 14 months. HSU’s School of Business holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), providing students and employers assurance of a graduate business education that meets high standards.