“The first change that takes place is in your mind. You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move. So, when we said that the revolution will not be televised, we were saying that the thing that’s going to change people is something that no one will ever be able to capture on film.” Gil Scott-Heron, long before the new app-normal, offered us all the perfect insight into ecommerce for the next decade.
The ecommerce revolution is happening right now and at an unrelenting pace that defies every form of commercial revolution that has come before.
People have digitally transformed with ruthless speed in the past 12 months, consuming content and purchasing products whenever and however they like. Their appetite is insatiable, fuelled by the twin-gods of possibility and necessity. Possibility that the goods or service they seek are cheaper or quicker somewhere else, necessity because Covid-19 has changed the way everyone shops forever.
The destination for ecommerce is seamless omnichannel customer experience, fuelled by data and content, where product purchase with traditional currency may be only one outcome. People and businesses will become as comfortable trading data, time and altcoin for the goods and services they sell and the goods and services they seek.
In the near-future Facebook Pay, fuelling cross-platform purchases with WhatsApp, will drive in-app purchase; offering a more immediate, realtime and seamless ecommerce experience. In parallel, Google ShopLoop will bring the features of Instagram with the narrated tutorial and purchase trigger of the 90-second video. The big will get bigger.
Ahead of the West stands the East with Alibaba, the world’s largest ecommerce company incorporating Alibaba.com, Tmall and Taobao, handling millions of merchants and purchasers. Transactions are now double Amazon.com and eBay combined, reaching almost $25bn in 2019, and all of this with just 7% of sales coming from outside of China.
Looking forward, Alibaba will only expand, and its plan to sign-up 100,000 content creators, as well as already opening a distribution centre in Belgium and an AliExpress store in Spain demonstrate the starter’s gun has been fired.
However, for me, the biggest trend of all will be sustainable ecommerce. And when it hits it will be seismic for platforms, merchants and customers alike, because it will challenge the very soul of what ecommerce is.
The inconvenient truth we must face into in the coming decade is the very same “effortless customer experience” everyone is striving to deliver may be damaging the planet we are trying to protect.
Amazon’s carbon footprint was not that far off the whole of Denmark in 2019, rising 15% year on year. 2020 is likely to see this number explode. The packaging for Christmas returns alone from all online suppliers is predicted to emit an additional 15 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere.
With the coming decade, ecommerce may become the least environmentally friendly way for us to shop as basket size gets smaller and delivery becomes immediate. Ecommerce may be forced to fundamentally rethink, or at the very least adjust, the foundations its operating model is built from.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat. The revolution will not be televised. The revolution will be no re-run, brothers. The revolution will be live.