The rise of the internet and in turn, online shopping, has happened so fast that it can be hard to keep track of all the steps in evolution our online experience has taken. Online shopping experienced a major uptick in popularity following the global financial crisis of 2008 and it hasn’t slowed since.
From new merchants taking advantage to the capabilities of delivering products online to new technologies changing how we receive those products and services, the state of online shopping changes everyday. Here are a few of the major changes going on in the industry right now and where they will be taking us in the next 10-20 years!
1. The movement away from brick and mortar. All you have to do is visit a local American mall to see the effect online shopping has had on brick and mortar stores. For many product categories, people are just not buying in-person. This new change to our society brought on by the evolution of online shopping leads us to our second point, which is actually an adaptation that stores can undertake to survive this.
2. The integration of online and brick and mortar experiences. There are many ways that stores can and have integrated their in-store experiences to work together with the mobile world. If you can’t beat them, join them! One highly successful way to get customers into stores is through push notifications and limited time deals. Stores can take advantage of the rise of mobile phones by sending would-be customers a redeemable offer they have to visit the store to fulfill. Another way to integrate online shopping with brick and mortar stores is through virtual reality. As we move into the next 10-20 years, look for stores to utilize virtual reality experiences to help customers make purchasing decision in-store. Or, at home. Which brings us to point number 3.
3. The utilization of VR for at-home online shopping. There’s certainly a future for VR at physical store locations to enhance the in-person shopping experience. However, the brightest future for virtual reality is at home. Buy+ is a fantastic example of the potential of VR for online shopping. This Chinese company allows customers to fill a virtual cart while wandering their store, all from a VR headset. Or, how about Ikea and their app, Ikea Place, which lets users see how a piece of furniture might look in their house, using their mobile device as the VR medium. It’s not hard to imagine a future where all online purchases are made only after virtually trying them out.
4. The explosion of online couponing. Saving money has always been of top interest for shoppers. Today, there are dozens upon dozens of ways customers can save on products in a single category, all of them thanks to the technological explosion of our generation. Take social media for example. 25 years ago, social media was just a thought. Today, 63% of millennials find coupons before shopping on social media (source: eMarketer 2015). Furthermore, websites like Coupon Cause were developed solely for use during the final stages of online shopping. It’s important to remember that sites like these didn’t exist as recently as the 1990s. As shopping has moved online, so have the ways in which people save money on their purchases.
5. The rise of the share economy. Perhaps the most abstract influencer on online shopping today, the newly developed (and continually developing) share economy should not be underestimated. Online shopping and the rise of mobile devices and the connectivity we all share because of them have given birth to a new phenomenon: sharing goods and services. Services like Lyft and Uber encourage employees to share their cars to be used as transportation for others. People can even find such services a dog walkers, laundry cleaners and more without ever leaving home, right from their mobile device. The share economy is something that is only picking up steam and will be a bigger part of our lives in the next part of the century.
Written by: Eric White