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The Changing Landscape of Retail and E-Commerce Business

by Olufisayo
100 Brilliant Business Ideas You Should Consider Before You Give Up Trying
e-commerce

Even before a global pandemic forced many us to remain indoors for months on end, the landscape of retail was shifting in favor of e-commerce.

Online stores are able to take orders remotely without the costs associated with a real-world store; they’re thus able to keep vast inventories of obscure items and take orders at all times of the day. What’s more, they’re able to do so safely.

To survive, traditional retailers are likely to need to adopt at least some of the tactics of their online counterparts.

Fundamental Changes

With the economy having slowed to a crawl, now is an ideal time to press reset on your business’s way of doing things, and to adopt new, digital-friendly practices. This may mean significant disruption and costs, on top of those already imposed by the tempestuous economic climate.

To weather the storm, it’s worth looking into short-term loans. These might come from high-street lenders, or perhaps from specialist online lenders who provide small business loans to certain kinds of organisations.

Need for Social Distancing

Any discussion of the benefits of e-commerce, in the short term, must include mention of the need for social distancing and other anti-contagion measures.

Here is where online retailers enjoy a massive inherent advantage over their brick-and-mortar equivalents, especially when it comes to non-essential goods. Why risk a trip to the local store when you can buy the same product online?

Emerging Markets

Perhaps the more significant trend in the long-term is the gradual emergence of markets like China, Brazil, India, Russia, and South Africa (the so-called ‘BRICS’). Around three billion would-be customers will have access to the internet in these states, which between them will account for around a fifth of global sales. That’s a significant amount of global sales, which we should expect online giants to be courting.

Automation

By placing human staff with machines, retailers can lower costs, improve performance, and free up talented individuals from monotonous, repetitive work. We can already see this shift occurring in both the physical and online retail worlds: cashiers are being supplemented by self-service checkouts, just as warehouse workers are being helped by machines.

Similarly, customer service is increasingly being handled by chatbots – machines who’ve learned to address common queries and can handle most of the calls received without the need for human intervention, but which can also pass the call seamlessly to a human operator when things get too much.

There’s no real upper limit for how far automation can go in the world of e-commerce, and it’s likely that the state of things in a decade’s time will be radically different to the way it is today.

Environmentalism

Another pressure comes from the natural world and growing concern on its behalf by the average shopper. As well as caring about things like price and quality of service, shoppers (and governments) are increasingly aware of how sustainable their practices are. Veganism is increasingly popular among younger demographics, but it’s just a small part of a broader trend toward environmental sustainability.

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