2020 is only seven years away and, as we’ve seen with the rapid evolution of apps and mobile technology, a lot can happen in that time. E-commerce is already gaining ground over its traditional bricks and mortar counterparts; indeed, many blame e-commerce for the decline in the standards of High Street shopping. However, whether we like it or not, e-commerce is slowly becoming the standard way to trade. But, how will e-commerce develop in the next seven years, and what can we expect from our virtual shopping experience?

Where are all the shops?
Already, vendors are taking advantage of the fact that owning a virtual store comes with much lower overheads than setting up a traditional bricks and mortar establishment. As a result, those savings are transferred to the customer in the form of lower prices. However, while shop fronts may well become redundant, what will be needed is storage; warehouses will become much more common, as more and more e-commerce traders look for premises in which to store their stock. Smaller warehouses are likely to stock fast-moving goods and perishables, while the larger ones will be used to house bulkier and one-off-style purchases.

Personalized shopping
While food shopping has entered the digital age, with customers being able to order online, there are thoughts that the whole shopping experience may become more personalized. One example of this is being investigated by the American Medical Council, in attempting to prevent illness and fatalities through allergic reactions to food. The theory is that consumers will be able to provide their medical insurers with a comprehensive list of their allergies. This information can then be shared with supermarkets and grocery stores, so that when someone shops online, if they choose an item that may contain something they are allergic to, a prompt will alert them and ask them if they wish to continue with that purchase. Not only will this be of immediate benefit to customers, but insurers may also breathe a sigh of relief as cases of anaphylactic shock decline as a result.

Print it!
Perhaps the biggest change to e-commerce will come in the form of 3D printing. It’s already possible to print weaponry and industry experts predict that domestic goods will follow suit. In essence, you should either be able to download and print the object you’re after or, if it’s a piece of technology, the item can be printed and assembled at a local outlet, meaning that delivery times will be shortened, possibly down to same-day delivery.

All in all, the focus of the current and future changes in e-commerce is geared towards the consumer. Personalized shopping is already in motion through the use of cookies, but the experience will be tailored even more minutely, even taking into account things like health. Convenience and speed of purchase will also be refined and consumers could find themselves looking at their purchase, scant hours after ordering it.

In addition, the likelihood is that goods manufacturers will have greater ability to contact consumers directly, driving prices down. Ultimately, the e-commerce of 2020 will make today’s efforts look like a horse-ride to the local market.

 Carlo Pandian is a management graduate that have been working in start-ups in London for 2 years. He also writes pc tutorials on QuickBooks by Intuit and contributes to cool start-up and creative blogs online. When he’s not at his PC, Carlo loves foraging in the countryside and cooking fancy meals.

Image by Colleen Martin Merritt, on Flickr