What Will E-Commerce Look Like in 20 Years' Time?

By Simon Reed,Commercial Director, Kelkoo Group

What Will E-Commerce Look Like in 20 Years' Time?Simon Reed,Commercial Director, Kelkoo Group

E-commerce has become ingrained in our everyday lives, shaping the nature of how we shop and interact with brands. The convenience, safety, and user experience of e-commerce have improved exponentially since its inception to meet with consumer demands for more choice, convenience, and innovation at their fingertips. Following the opening of internet to the public in 1991, online shopping boomed with the launch of sites such as Amazon in the US. Nowadays, our inventory sources include anything from gardening tools to electronic goods—a far cry from the sale of a Sting CD at $12.68.

What will e-commerce look like in 20 years’ time? Intensifying purchase power from global consumers, the rise of social media, and developments in the tech space continue to shape the very nature of the e-commerce space. With influence from China set to shape the nature of future business, these factors are ones to watch for any retailer looking to make a mark during the next decade and beyond.

Multi-Faceted Approach

The rise of Google Shopping Ads (PLA) and Comparison Listing Ads (CLA) has shaped European markets later this year. It comes as no surprise to me to learn that global e-commerce sales are predicted to account for 17.5 percent of the total retail market by 2021. Any company looking to attract and retain consumer spend needs to provide a multi-faceted approach to business, delivering quality traffic in addition to a level of digital campaign support, brand awareness and sound understanding of analytics. Embracing innovation is key to keep attracting e-shoppers and eliminating cart abandonment on its tracks.

Social Shopping

Research shows that 73 percent of customers use multiple channels in addition to comparison shopping services during their shopping journey. Working with retailers in the e-commerce space, we have seen a shift in the knowledge required in-house to understand how customers buy and their motivations or main drivers to purchase. This omnichannel approach has triggered significant impacts such as social media upping their social selling buttons and ‘shoppable post’ features. Businesses from Burberry to Ikea, have to understand their customers’ touchpoints to consider how to better market products and convert clicks into sales—embracing AI and social channels to improve brand engagement.

Any company looking to attract and retain consumer spend needs to provide a multi-faceted approach to business, delivering quality traffic in addition to a level of digital campaign support, brand awareness and sound understanding of analytics

The launch of Instagram Shopping is a prime example of this, revolutionising the way that it’s 1.1 billion monthly users can check out with products that pop up in their feed or via Instagram TV, keeping the shopping experience within the platform.

After many years of it ‘being the year of mobile,’ the scales finally tipped in 2017 with mobile sales estimated to account for 70 percent of all e-commerce sales in 2021. Just as laptops took over from desktops, mobile devices are taking over as our platform of convenience, and retailers and advertisers alike will need to continue optimising and adjusting for a variety of screen sizes and gesture-based commerce.

Responsible Advertising

Ad blockers continue to be the bane of the online advertising world, but they should encourage us to be innovative and responsible, ensuring that the right advert is served to the right customer at the right time. The success of Instagram (60 percent of users discover products on the platform) and the fact that on average, multi-traffic campaigns account for 24 percent of revenue for merchants who utilise it, is certainly an indicator that there is a growing appetite.


Personalisation is increasingly driving the way that customers interact with brands. Now, e-commerce personalisation can dynamically display a unique and individualised shopping experience to each customer. Making efficient use of any personal information captured from demographics, browsing behaviour, buying history, and other data can help businesses to keep consumers within their buying cycle and improve browsers’ overall online shopping experience.

Speed and Simplicity

The nature of how retailers are interacting with consumers has also had to evolve to meet with demands for on-the-go shopping and improved ease of ordering and delivery times. Mobile and voice led devices are helping speed up the buying process, as customers can make a purchase in a few seconds. Voice provides consumers with a direct link to brands, meaning that you can order your weekly shop or even order a takeaway from the comfort of your own home without even having to type. Speed and simplicity is critical for retailers looking for success online, with brands embracing the power of digital to ensure that they too can take on dominant players such as Amazon and Alibaba.

Looking East

The evolution of Alibaba, owning 90 percent of e-commerce in China, is one that we should watch. Consumers in emerging markets are on the lookout for ultra-convenience–demanding rapid delivery times and optimal service. E-commerce in emerging markets is expected to grow from around 15 percent of all retail sales in 2017 to 20 percent in 2022. This online revolution should spur retailers to ensure that they continue to put their customers first if they want to retain business in the future.

It’s an exciting time to be part of the e-commerce space, and we are set to see a range of developments during the next twenty years and beyond. 

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