E-Commerce and online-shopping are not new concepts anymore. Over the past couple of years, online giants like Amazon and Alibaba have made shopping and online shopping synonyms. It is no denying that they are an essential part of our daily lives and have never failed to attract us with their deals and offers. Most of all, Convenient purchase and delivery options.
Glory to the internet for this!
Industry and Commerce 4.0
The 4th industrial revolution has seen the quicker adoption of the internet and of course, the smartphone technology. The no.of mobile users have exponentially expanded in the past 20 years. As technology made smartphones even smarter, it brought the world to us and exposed it with just a click.
Every aspect of the material world found a place in the mobile world, through mobile apps.
E-commerce for a long time was just ordering an item on the internet and getting it delivered at our doorsteps in a standard 7 to 14 days. And this didn’t include international delivery, per se.
And now, as the online world matures, e-commerce has gone just beyond shopping with mobile apps. It is now a “whole look” recommender, presenting with competitive analysis and purchase prediction. With mobile apps, brick-and-mortar stores and international brands got a common platform to attract the world and as consumers we found the world coming to us.
Boundaries were no longer boundaries, for shopping.
With online vendors and online purchases skyrocketing, it is estimated that 99 % of purchases will be made online by 2040 with 1.92 billion global buyers in 2020.
The reason for this spike, being the convenience of shopping from our homes, in our comfy pajamas and a wide range of choices and first-hand delivery experiences.
Speaking of delivery experiences, e-commerce is not the ‘only’ winner in this game.
Without an efficient and gassed-up logistics, e-commerce still would have been confined in Jeff Bezos selling amazon books. But again, we have to remember, it is e-commerce which started the game.
Is e-commerce driving logistics or is it the other way around?
We could say that e-commerce brought logistics to limelight. But, since the boom in online sales, logistics has been its operational powerhouse.
Logistics is the game-changer in e-commerce, but not the driver. Yet.
E-commerce is no more mere browsing and shopping and logistics are no more waiting for eternity. Both have evolved and changed around each other.
When E-commerce ventures aimed for massive transformation through the right product delivery and consumer convenience, Logistics came up with better functional logistics services to fulfill the customer demands with speed delivery and accuracy.
To answer the “who is the real driver?” question, neither e-commerce nor logistics are the drivers. Instead of driving each other, they co-exist with each other and fulfill the other one’s needs.
The real driver is the consumer and their expectations.
The millennial expectation
Brought up along with social media, this group of consumer’s demands and expectations are different and e-commerce vendors had to put themselves in front of the consumers to catch attention.
Even though convenience got them hooked up with e-commerce, it is not enough to make them stay. Millennials now expect a seamless and fast delivery, even when it is international shipping with precise order tracking, security, and accuracy in delivering products after the endpoint.
This has pushed e-commerce businesses to go for last-mile delivery services. Which is, the movement of goods from the final hub to the end-user. The e-commerce boom has sparked a spike in the increase of parcel shipments by last-mile logistics.
With 80% of customers expecting product delivery within a day or two, Only 28% of delivery is made as last-mile delivery.
It is quite funny that the shortest and quickest stage of logistics is also the most crucial stage too. With more territories to cover, Last-mile delivery has proved to be more complicated. And not all e-commerce vendors opt for complications.
This gives customers the power to choose between e-commerce providers. And they choose the business that matches their needs and demands.
Now, e-commerce businesses are left with no choice, they have to make themselves capable of last-mile delivery or go for third party logistics. Most vendors go for 3PL as not every one of them is Amazon or Flipkart.
This cat and mouse game of online retailers, logistics services and consumers, have challenges on its way too. And it seems to get complicated with the very advancement of technology.
Confronting the challenges
The growth has been so exploding that e-commerce is one of the main contributors to the national economy, but not without hurdles.
With global expansion, e-commerce has adopted different e-logistics models to address the change in physical distribution networks and cross-border fulfillment, including advanced e-fulfillment warehouses, parcel hubs and urban logistics depot for faster order delivery.
All these components thriving to satisfy their common consumers, we can see the line between warehousing, logistics, and e-commerce slowly disappearing.
With margins, this razor-thin, fulfilling all desires of customers is the most pressing challenge and all bet is on technology and innovation.
Stepping into the future
Not one technology is spared in the case of e-commerce.
Starting with the customer, Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence have taken its toll in predicting customer behavior and purchase styles. We never stop by looking into one product. We browse for different styles, from different vendors and finally settle for the best choice.
Competitor analysis and recommender are mandatory.
As retailers, Going online is the first step. A mobile-first, progressive web app is the second step. Adding the AI factor with chatbots and algorithm predictor is the most important step. Including the most comfortable and convenient payment options and delivery options is crucial. And finally collecting the big data, analyzing and storing it up is the next.
If any retailers out there, who have not thought about a mobile app and quite comfortable with websites only. They probably should have to rethink.
E-commerce is a half-pie without logistics.
The continuous improvement in e-commerce has led to lesser hands in logistics. Automation has taken that place and performing almost well in last-mile delivering.
E-commerce pioneers are planning to use unmanned aerial vehicles and drones to realize the last-mile delivery and have already started with using robots in warehouse management.
Blockchain and IoT will spur the package delivery system and will pave the path for efficient inventory management methods.
Just as convenience is important, so is communication.
It looks so simple but, 24/7 support and customer care are not so simple with human brains and hands. So, there it is, Chatbots, offering you all the help in the world.
Technology has never failed to surprise us. Quickly evolving, it is bound to surprise us more.
E-commerce has become more customer-centric and streamlined. No matter whether you are a retailer, online retailer or logistics provider. You must gear-up for more changes and align yourself with evolving technologies to survive the shifting market trends.
At Zoondia, we encourage our clients to take leverage of all the advanced technologies we offer to make the best of their e-commerce and logistics businesses to satisfy their customer demands.
The only thing certain is, change is here, the future is here and you have to be flexible enough to adapt to the changing logistics and e-commerce trends to fit in or to be left behind.