Updated: Sep 3, 2021
During the lockdown of 2020, the vast majority of people were forced to buy things online. The volume of online sales doubled in relation to the 2019 levels. Retailers were forced to innovate and make e-commerce central to their operations. There is evidence that the retail industry will continue depending on e-commerce and online sales.
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Evolution of Retail
From ancient times, trade involved a personal contact between a producer of a product and a consumer. This was a personal connection until markets were established and retail became central. This culminated in a system of contact between the seller and the buyer who met and negotiated physically.
Industrialization came to depersonalize the relationship between a consumer and producer. The retailer became the intermediary between buyer and seller. Shops were set up to display goods which consumers filed past and chose goods they wanted.
In the process, the retailer became central in depersonalizing the entire process of buying and selling. This involved finding products that consumers wanted and providing them on demand.
Digital Democracy and Online Shopping
Advancement in supply chain management and e-sourcing was complemented with digital sales and digital checkouts that set the automation process in motion.
COVID-19 came to indicate that digital democracy has taken a completely different face and form. This involved delivery of products to consumers and online payments. All of these things indicated that people will rely more on digital technology to acquire goods they needed.
E-sourcing mechanisms and digital sales systems were integrated to make the entire process of online shopping more appropriate.
Future of Online Shopping
COVID-19 caused social media on the digital space to be merged with online sales. This is because people staying at home could interact through social media systems in ways that replicate the normal face-to-face interaction between people. This culminated in new mechanisms and processes of buying and selling. In the process, certain things became significant as having potential to be developed further:
1. Influencers in Retail: The use of influencers has increased significantly. It is apparent this is about to be used in the retailing sector to get goods to be sold quickly.
2. Online Auctions: This process was common on televisions and it is being practiced actively in countries like China in ways that boosts sales in some of the most impactful forms.
3. Livestreaming: There is a lot of potential for livestreaming in online retail. This includes streaming events and shopping experiences to promote retail brands among other things.
4. Social Commerce [Social Media + Retail]: This is a process where e-commerce is merged with social media and retail to get the marketing and sales process to be undertaken digitally.
Tech Companies and Exponential Technologies
Tech companies are increasingly moving towards e-tailing as a way of modifying the retail industry to cover the digital space. This is done through the development of new technologies and incrementally adding on it.
Now, the big tech companies are creating and deploying AI and other exponential technologies to industries like retail. This provides a basis for providing retail services to consumers and also monitor results and outputs. Through this, retail companies can connect with manufacturers and consumers in a sustainable way.
Algorithms are important to provide specific services and smart contracts that can be used to execute functions through artificial intelligence.
Retail companies can also rely significantly on Big Data which can be used to tell major trends and draw predictions that are all-encompassing. Through this, a retail company can stay ahead of the company and continue to deploy its digital technologies.
The retailing industry is likely to become highly digitalized in ways that would bring on almost every aspects of digital technology to use. In the process, the large retail company with its major features might give way to a fast and effective method of predicting consumers needs and also delivering their needs quickly.
A time may come when e-tailing will cause consumers to be linked directly to consumers. Thus, instead of going through a storage system and the shop floor, e-tailing will involve simply moving the product from the manufacturer to the consumer. This will be driven by digital technology and not large supermarkets and shop floors.
Shopping addiction is likely to be incited through the merger of social media and digital technologies. Algorithms, sophisticated artificial intelligence and Big Data will be major tools a retail company can use to boost sales.
However, retail companies will have some legal responsibility to ensure shoppers acquire their products responsibly. This could be earmarked by lawsuits and claims against companies that overuse exponential technologies.