Society and E-Commerce

The Rise  

Did you know that the UK leads the world in online shopping? Research from Episerver found  1/3 of Brits purchase online at least once per week.  

Over the last 10 years, the percentage of online shopping to overall retail sales more than tripled up to 19% until 2019. Once the pandemic hit it nearly doubled to 35% (ONS, 2021). 

It’s not an overstatement to say that online shopping has changed our milieu forever. The high streets are emptying as the roads become peppered with delivery vans as we sit in the comfort of our home clicking “add to basket”.  

How did this happen and what does the future hold?  

History of E-Commerce 

Thanks to the internet – and more specifically the World Wide Web – humanity has been shopping online since the 1990s. Services like Amazon have humble backstories of selling books from a garage in 1994 to becoming the world’s most valuable public company in 2019.  

Many companies are trying to follow in Amazon’s footsteps. Today there are a plethora of trusted companies that we rely on to deliver goods to our door in record time from Etsy to  Yodel and Ocado.  

Would you have heard of these 20 years ago?  

Covid Catalyst  

The pandemic provided an ideal climate for online retailers to solidify their scope. For much of 2020, the instruction for everyone was to “stay at home” which was a catalyst in making consumers switch to online shopping. Meanwhile, non-essential brick-and-mortar shops were forced to close. 

Shops ran out of toilet paper and hand sanitisers which meant consumers turned to Amazon to supply them with toiletries – until they ran out.

During 2020, Amazon doubled its quarterly profits compared to the year before (Harris, 2020). Amazon’s growth will continue despite brick and mortar shops opening their doors to the public, e-commerce is projected to grow over the next 5 years.  

What does the future of e-commerce hold? Well according to some experts in the next 10  years we could have drones, droids and driverless cars.  

Droids 

In March 2021, a delivery droid was piloted on the streets of Stockholm. Nicknamed “Doora”  the pilotless vehicle is knee-high, pink and whizzes around the streets on two wheels. Thanks to 5G, Doora can perceive its surroundings in real-time, which enables her to autonomously send deliveries up to 2kg. 

Drones 

Drone delivery has the potential to change delivery services completely. Amazon’s “Prime  Air” service will be able to deliver to you within 30 minutes. Initial testing for the service began in 2013 and it was officially unveiled in 2016 but it was not until 2020 that it achieved regulatory approval to operate flying drones. 

To fulfil the numerous orders within a city, Amazon has patented a concept of buildings that act as beehives for drones. These futuristic buildings will be a hub that releases drones across the city to your doorstep. 

Self-Driving Cars 

Not only will the cars of the future be electric but also self-driving. The latest headline was from Ocado, who have announced a £10m stake in Oxbotica – an autonomous vehicle software company. Ocado’s head of technology states: 

“From a customer’s perspective, you open your door and outside you will see an  autonomous van or another autonomous vehicle pull up outside your house, and most likely  an autonomous robot will get out of that autonomous vehicle, will collect your groceries,  and hand them to you at the doorstep.” 

Conclusion 

Even though it might seem like e-commerce has dramatically changed since the 1990s, the concept of buying online is still only in its infancy. We can now order millions of different items that arrive within less than a day but soon this will seem very slow.  

The range of products we can order, and the delivery times have become more efficient, but these are only small changes to what’s to come in the future. The skies may be filled with drones and our pavements scattered with friendly-looking robots. This will make deliveries far more efficient and lower in CO2. 

We’re excited about this future. But until we have futuristic drones and droids, we believe that there are more efficient ways of delivery than we have today. Anteam is committed to lowering the number of delivery vehicles on the road by making trips more efficient.