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In the last decade, the eCommerce industry has grown exponentially.

In 2014, eCommerce sales amounted to approximately 1.3trillion USD worldwide. In 2022, 5.7 trillion, and by 2026, it’s predicted that eCommerce sales will reach 8.1 trillion dollars.

It’s crazy to think about just how far the industry has come. It’s even crazier to think about where it’s going.

The future of eCommerce is bright, but it’s the responsibility of each and every one of us in the industry to ensure that its success doesn’t come at the expense of environmental and social negligence.

We’re going to explore that and more today, as we take a look at what the future of eCommerce looks like in tech, buying habits, discoverability, customer experiences, and much more.

Grab your time machine, and let’s go.

Automation

Automation is often the first talking point when folks get together to discuss the future of eCommerce. Sophisticated automation is already common in eCommerce, whether that’s in the form of automatic order processing, elements of returns management, inventory management tools, smart analytics, and much more.

The big area of automation that will seriously take off in the next decade or so is robotics. That’s right; the future is closer than you think, and for some companies, it’s already here. Amazon, for example, has already begun using robotics in some of its facilities.

Sustainability

Any serious conversation about the future of eCommerce needs to consider sustainability. eCommerce companies and their relationship with the environment are regularly featured in the mainstream media, and unfortunately, not always for the right reasons.

Whether it’s $30million dollars worth of plastic figures going to landfill, or the worrying size of carbon footprints generated by online returns, there’s much more to do both the side of the customer and the business.

We predict that eCommerce companies will continue to innovate and educate in regards to environmentalism and sustainability, offering customers more ways to reduce their carbon footprint through carbon neutral delivery options, eco-friendly packaging, and informing customers about the environmental impact of returns.

Voice search

Voice search isn’t particularly new; smartphones have allowed users to search for things using their voice for over a decade now. Similarly, tech like Alexa and Google Nest are a staple of many homes across the world, whether we’re looking for cooking inspiration, want to know the weather, or have a question on our minds.

Today, it’s thought that 20% of Google searches are made through voice search.

Voice commerce is the next step in this evolution, and we predict that this new way of shopping will take off over the next decade. We’re not simply talking about users using their voice to find products – we’re talking about the whole works. Software that allows customers to ask questions, checkout, select payment options, check reviews and more, all through voice.

Shopping online is already pretty simple, but voice search has the potential to take this simplicity even further.

New ways to show off and sell

Some might say that there’s enough shopping channels already. We can already buy things via websites, through countless social media platforms, on apps, and much more. But more channels are certainly on the horizon as new and exciting technologies emerge.

A prime example of a relatively new channel that’s primed for success is TikTok shop. TikTok is the perfect platform to showcase products in use, and make them appealing to the next generation of shoppers by hopping aboard trends, sprinkling in a bit of humour, or adding popular songs into the mix.

There’s also going to be an increase in the number of marketing channels to tap into. Marketers may roll their eyes at this – as there’s already more than enough channels to keep up with – but it’s true.

More ways to pay

To pull back as many barriers as possible, it’s in an eCommerce business’ best interest to offer multiple ways to pay. Gone are the days where customers would have a few credit card options to make payments; we’ve now got options like PayPal, Klarna, and Google Pay to allow for more flexible payment options.

As Web3 and the Metaverse take off (see next topic), we’re expecting even more ways to pay to become the norm. Crypto and other digital currencies, powered by wallets that update in real-time, could pave the way for more flexible payment options for a new generation of tech-savvy shoppers.

Virtual and augmented reality

While Mark Zuckerberg’s dreams of a Metaverse might be struggling to take off, there’s no doubt that it’s going to arrive in one form or another sooner rather than later.

Some might argue it’s already here – with video games like Fortnite and Roblox essentially being live metaverses that combine popular media from dozens of IPs, allowing players to purchase cosmetic items to show off their personality and identity.

Similarly, several eCommerce industries already use augmented reality to power purchase decisions. Customers in the market for furniture and interior design can already see how products might fit into their spaces with AR; companies including Amazon and Wayfair are already doing this.

Another industry that has the potential to use augmented reality to its advantage is fashion. Many of us order clothes online that look great but simply don’t suit us when we try them on, resulting in huge return rates. Imagine a world where we could try clothes on in augmented, or even virtual reality.

Head into the future of eCommerce with James and James

Here at James and James, we’re pretty excited about where eCommerce is going. There’s going to be challenges, of course, but as far as we’re concerned, that’s all part of the fun.

One of the best ways to prepare for the future of eCommerce is to partner with a 3PL. We’re already living in a world where customers expect next-day delivery as a minimum, and this is only going to get more prevalent as 3PLs continue to implement automation into the fulfilment operations.

Prepare for the future of eCommerce by letting us store, pick, pack, and ship your products anywhere in the world, while you get on with growing your business. Get in touch with one of our fulfilment specialists today by filling out this online form or giving us a call on +44 (0)1604 801 915.

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