E-commerce has truly revolutionized the way we purchase, and the impact can be seen across socio-geographical boundaries. The recent years have witnessed the phenomenal growth of e-commerce business which has changed the dynamics for most of the organizations and companies. Business strategies are being reformulated and redesigned keeping these changes in consideration and the way global e-commerce market is rising. Future of shopping is here, right in front of us. To sustain growth and to be a dominant player in the global e-commerce market, emerging trends need to be understood and a flexible approach has to be adopted considering the diversity of consumer behavior and preferences. The seller needs to acknowledge that the buyer today is looking to make a hassle-free online transaction which is convenient and personalized. Globalization and digitization has reshaped the process of customer-business interactions and transactions. Besides buyers, its retailers and business houses which are benefitted due to sheer volume and market size of online transactions; which otherwise might not have been possible to explore, thus allowing the sellers to cut down the costs and reaching far away customers. The revenue generated through e-commerce business activities was remotely possible by traditional brick-and-mortar retail set up.
One major emerging trend in e-commerce business is extensive use of mobile phones. Most of the studies indicate the rising popularity of Mobile phones among users while interacting with online sellers or making an online transaction. Not only it is providing them the comfort of shopping while being at their homes or offices, but it also enables them to transact while on the go. This ease is the single most important factor why more and more companies have optimized their services and websites for mobile use. No doubt there are still a lot many buyers who prefer to shop using their laptops or computers, but the trend is rapidly changing. The buyer today increasingly explore all the options on mobile phones, research the product and do a comparative analysis before actually placing an order. The sellers need to acknowledge this and should make buying a delightful experience for customers; no matter he or she uses a laptop or a mobile phone.
It is not long ago when we heard the term “personalization” for the first time which is trending today. More and more customers prefer buying a personalized or customized service or product which suits their consumption habits. A study shows that there are a large number of customers who are ready to pay up to 10% premium for this. The choice of buyers for personalization of a product may vary from personalizing a smartphone to a car or for that matter, a refrigerator. The bottom line is, companies are acting according to consumers’ behavior and offering options to the buyers to customize a particular product or service according to their choice. The same applies in e-commerce. The seller, who is directly engaging the customer and giving the upfront option to customize a good, may hold an edge over competitors. It not only builds customer’s faith in a company but may also lead to loyalty. This is yet another trend in e-commerce business which is hard to resist or ignore.
While we discuss customers’ comfort and preferences, one dominant factor is ease of doing online transactions and delivery options. Companies are offering a variety of payment modes and options to their customers. Most of the customers prefer low or no shipping costs. It is observed that the buyer opts for bulk purchasing just to minimize shipping cost or sometimes, no cost at all. It presents a win-win situation for the online seller wherein he can offer an array of promotional offers to buyers to push sales volume significantly. Apart from that, customers prefer to buy from the seller who does not object replacement of product if not found satisfactory or return the money, whatsoever the case may be. There is an interesting buying trend in Europe where customers prefer to get details of goods and services online and then want to recheck the same at a physical store before buying. It has forced many online–only retailers to set up physical stores for customers’ convenience with the majority being the clothing merchants.
Having discussed consumers’ buying habits, now let's focus what is happening in the business world and how the global e-commerce markets are shaping up. Global e-commerce trends are showing an ever increasing growth of online business which is poised to sustain in the near future. According to an estimate by a 2016 e-marketer report, global e-commerce business is expected to cross $ 4 trillion by 2020, which is about 15% of total retail sales. Apart from major economies like US, UK and Europe, which are expected to contribute large volumes of online business, comparatively smaller market like Mexico are also witnessing a rising pattern in terms of e-commerce business. Mexican e-commerce economy has registered an average growth of more than 30% for last three consecutive years. However, despite these impressive figures, it contributes to only 1.5% of the total retail market, which indicates a huge potential for online business for e-retailers in Mexico. However, E-marketer does not place its bet so convincingly on the Canadian market, which already has more than 70% of its population opting for online shopping and not expected to grow much in coming years. Though the volumes will be relatively significant in Canada, the growth in terms of customers may not be so encouraging.
E-marketer has also predicted dominance of Asia-Pacific region in coming years in e-commerce market space simply due to its large populations and ever-increasing use of smartphones connected to the internet. China, undoubtedly, is leading the way and is being followed by India and Japan. According to an estimate, around 35% of Chinese population is set to shop at least once annually which is 407.6 million customers, nearly double the size of United States digital market. Indian markets have also experienced a boom in e-business in recent years. A total of 82.3 million users, which is roughly 9% of Indian population, prefer to buy digitally, again promising e-retailers a huge untapped e-market with enormous growth potential. A study by Mobify shows that 40% of Indian online customers rely on mobile phones while shopping. In contrast, close to 90% Japanese online shoppers have laptops or personal computers as their preferred mode for online search of a product or while making an online transaction.
All these trends strongly indicate towards a rapidly changing market scenario where digital business is going to dominate the entire spectrum. Retailers are compelled to adjust to the latest business dynamics and have to go online to keep growing and make their presence felt internationally.