The E-Commerce Industry: The Future of Search, Shop, and Ship

What exactly does the future of e-commerce business look like? Here’s a rundown of everything you should know about the e-commerce industry. 

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E-commerce has skyrocketed into one of the biggest industries in the world. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced consumers to adapt by staying home and shopping online, e-commerce was already seeing considerable growth in the United States. Though the e-commerce industry has been steadily growing since 2009, e-commerce in the US saw 10 years’ worth of growth within three months from 2019 to the end of the first quarter of 2020. 

As a result, owning an e-commerce store has become a great way to make passive income to boost one’s portfolio.Following the pandemic’s changes to consumer behavior, it’s safe to say that e-commerce is the future of convenient shopping options. 

What exactly does the future of e-commerce business look like? Here’s a rundown of everything you should know about the e-commerce industry. 

What Is E-Commerce?

The e-commerce industry encompasses any business that’s involved in the buying and selling of products online. E-commerce businesses include businesses that operate exclusively online or companies with both physical and online stores. 

For most consumers, this may be the online store where they shop. However, e-commerce as a whole is more than just the business-to-consumer (B2C) stores. Those looking to enter the industry can explore various e-commerce business opportunities, such as:

  • Direct Sellers: The B2C stores that sell directly to consumers and business-to-business stores that source products and other goods to businesses. These businesses don’t work with retailers like Walmart and Sephora to sell their products for them online. 

  • Payment Platforms: These are the secure third-party platforms that online businesses can partner with to process credit and debit payments and other digital e-wallets. These businesses ensure successful transactions while meeting the security standards required for online transactions. 

  • Marketplaces: These are the e-commerce platforms for small businesses such as Amazon or Etsy where businesses can reach shoppers searching for products. Marketplaces remove the need for sellers to build a website or online store of their own, as the marketplace offers everything they need to start selling in exchange for revenue.

  • Software Developers: These companies offer online tools, cloud-based software, and other software-as-a-service (SaaS) products that sellers can use. Software programs can help with website building, marketing, customer relationship management, payments, etc.

  • Logistics and Delivery: These service providers are responsible for getting products from the seller to their customer’s doorstep. Maintaining prompt delivery times ensures customer satisfaction and makes e-commerce a more convenient solution than shopping in physical stores. 

E-Commerce Trends

Growing e-commerce business trends can vary. However, here are some of the trends that successful high-growth e-commerce companies tend to follow:

  • Online Technologies: Advanced technology like SaaS and cloud-based software are essential for centralized business operations. Artificial intelligence (AI) can also help e-commerce business owners with processes like inventory management and assist consumers with finding the products they need.

  • Mobile-Friendly Websites: Mobile devices are expected to overtake traditional desktops and laptops for internet accessibility eventually. The World Advertising Research Center estimates that, by 2025, 75% of the population will access the internet exclusively on mobile devices. This means adapting e-commerce platforms to respond to mobile screens, such as apps and responsive website design.

  • Personalization: More businesses are seeing how cookie-cutter advertising strategies aren’t as effective as personalized ads. Brands that want to reach their audience better must give tailored experiences and recommendations based on the user’s preferences.

  • Payments and Subscriptions: More users are expected to use e-wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. In 2021, half of all e-commerce transactions used mobile wallets, which is expected to rise to 53% by 2025. Subscription-based payment plans may also become popular for applicable businesses, making it easier for users to pay for regularly-used services and products.

  • Social Commerce: More businesses must build a social media presence to engage with consumers, especially those targeting Gen Z customers. This can mean working with influencers or creating organic social media engagement that can lead to sales. 

What Does the Future of Online Shopping Look Like?

Based on the trends of e-commerce, here are some possible directions that will affect e-commerce for consumers, online retailers, and marketers. 

1. New Marketing and E-Commerce Platforms

We’ve already seen TikTok and Instagram turn from social media platforms into platforms with marketplace features. Users browsing TikTok can find online sellers who can allow users to instantly check out featured products and order them without the need to link to other marketplaces or online stores. 

The e-commerce industry is also experiencing the rise of live selling, a practice where sellers go on live streams to show their products to their viewers. This practice is already popular in China, where live e-commerce is expected to earn USD 4.92 billion in 2023. In the United States, 20% of online shoppers say they’ve bought products from a live sale.

2. Physical Stores Will Never Be Irrelevant

While e-commerce is growing at a rate that physical stores can’t, that doesn’t mean brick-and-mortar stores will someday fade in relevance. While advantages like lower overhead costs and 24/7 shopping exist for online stores, some shopping experiences still keep physical stores alive. For example, stores can offer exclusive products and allow consumers to examine or try a product before purchasing. 

Businesses with physical and online stores may benefit from the best of both worlds. On top of the products and shopping experience they can deliver, having physical stores provide more flexible solutions for consumers, such as in-store pick-ups as an alternative to paying delivery fees. 

3. Voice Search for Shopping

AI chatbots like Bing, Bard, and ChatGPT will only enhance the rudimentary shopping features provided by devices like Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home. In 2017, the US market saw two billion dollars worth of online shopping done with the help of voice-activated devices; in 2022, it is expected to have reached 40 billion. This will affect how users find products online as AI, and voice-activated devices will provide results based on their search. 

For businesses and marketers, this means an increased focus on optimizing product listings and website content for voice-friendly searches. Product listings on marketplaces like Amazon often have wordy product descriptions to cover different types of searches. Now, information must be more concise to get the attention of AI and voice-activated devices. 

4. The Buying Experience Won’t End After a Purchase

In the past, most businesses only focused on the pre-purchase customer experience. However, given the cost of acquiring new customers, the importance of online reviews, and the rise of subscription-based purchases, post-purchase customer experience will now also be crucial to a successful business, including:

Pre-Purchase Experience Factors

  • How long it takes users to find your products and reach the checkout page
  • The length of your checkout process
  • Product page flow
  • Chatbots or live customer representatives providing additional information
  • Product and user reviews

Post-Purchase Experience Factors

  • Product delivery options (delivery, pick-ups, and other flexible options)
  • After-sales assistance (How-to's and user demos)
  • Refunds, returns, and exchanges
  • Omnichannel customer support
  • Customer online communities
  • Customer relationship management
  • Loyalty programs

Businesses must take extra steps to ensure customers are happy even after purchasing. On top of the reputational benefits this practice can have, it can also help with a business’s sales. Studies show that companies that increase customer retention rates by 5% can see a 95% increase in profits. While acquiring new customers is always an option, the marketing and advertising costs of gaining new customers are up to 25 times more expensive than maintaining existing relationships with repeat customers.

Partner with Wealth Assistants to Manage Your E-Commerce Store

The e-commerce industry has plenty of opportunities for folks to put their capital into areas with the potential to grow over the next few years. However, managing this online asset requires handling the demanding online market and dedicating time, skills, and other resources to the business. 

Those interested in assets like e-commerce businesses without the means to manage them don’t necessarily have to cross out this business opportunity. With the right team, you can reap the benefits of your e-commerce store and turn it into a hands-off income generator.

Wealth Assistants is your reliable team of professionals. We can help you find e-commerce ownership investment opportunities and then get you through securing capital, acquiring an existing e-commerce business, scaling operations, and maintaining its online success. 

Get started with our e-commerce management services. Schedule a call with us today to learn more about ownership and growth opportunities in the e-commerce industry.

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