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This article mainly uses web-based horizon scanning, technology watching, and my personal experience from e-commerce industry development in China. After searching and collecting relevant literature on the Internet and the journal, the future trend of E-Commerce is summarized and analyzed. The biggest strength of using these methodologies is that we can go beyond the understanding of the industry at present, and we can see the future business opportunities and risks, but the limitations are the judgements are mainly dependent on my understanding of the industry so that the conclusion is not objective enough, less structured, mass information to be analyzed, the process is too complicated.
The popularity of robots will make the efficiency of the whole logistics sorting system greatly increased. Every day, logistics centers receive millions of products from hundreds of thousands of suppliers and try to unload these goods and merchandise. Quickly and accurately classify owners of the goods and storing or sending locations. All of these goods will be transported to the designated places by robots according to the specified shelf, processing area, delivery platform, etc. in the shortest time. At the same time, after the supplier or the shipper giving shipping instructions, automatic sorting system will collect different quantities of goods from different storage locations and get into different tally areas or distributing platforms for loading and distribution. Due to the automation used in mass production assembly line, automatic sorting system is not affected by the climate, the limitation of time, human resources, etc. and can run continuously. The sorting capacity is continuously running 100 hours, sorting 7000 packaged goods per hour. Compared to using manual labor only, workers can only sort 150 pieces per hour and they cannot work 8 hours continuously. Moreover, there is an extremely low error rate of sorting around 3%. Unless the bar code printer makes a mistake, the barcode scanning input will not go wrong. Therefore, at present the automatic sorting system uses barcode to identify goods. Overall, sorting operations are realized without humanization but only robots.
London-based industrial design company Priestman Goode recently launched a new concept for an urban UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) delivery system. In the vision of Priestman Goode, the UAV will be working with the autonomous barge, which will be used as a charging station and distribution center.
Cathy orders a box of masks through a mobile app, and the e-commerce platform receives messages and sends instructions to the nearest delivery barge. The UAV on the barge picks up the package and flies straight to Cathy’s home. After less than eight minutes of flight, the UAV comes to the living room window of Cathy’s home on the 12th floor, stops on the landing pad, places the package at the delivery port, and flies away. Cathy takes the mask from the delivery point of the package. The whole process takes less than an hour. This may be a daily scenario for future E-Commerce deliveries.
The famous home furnishing retailer, the Ikea group, added VR technology to their APP and allowed customers to watch and place 3D virtual furniture in their home. Given customers such opportunity, they are able to see their future home in advance according to their preferred layout and make them sure that this furniture really suits their home before buying. This undoubtedly creates a win-win solution, which not only greatly improves customer satisfaction, but also reduces the return rate and complaint rate, thus improving Ikea’s reputation.
Avenue Imperial, founded in 2013, provides VR solutions for famous fashion brands, such as Harvey Nichols, Karen Millen and Jimmy Choo, and so on. They enable users to “shop” in brand stores by using VR headsets at home. As a new attempt of e-commerce and the most practical launch of VR, Alibaba’s trial has also filled the industry with the future scenes of VR e-commerce. For example, it adds travel element in VR shopping–to provide a virtual scene of local tourist attractions and locations according to different brands of different countries. When you use your VR device to “shop” at a Japanese store, you can see Tokyo’s Rainbow or the Ferris wheel, or the Japanese high school; And when you “go” to an American store, you might find a black driver in an antique car on the road who can take you to Times square and then to your shopping destination Macy’s.
On October 18, 2003, Alibaba launched its Alipay service. It is a third-party payment model. After the buyer purchases the commodity, he/she uses the account provided by the third-party platform to make payment for commodity (to be paid to the third party), and the third party informs the seller about the payment to the account and requests the delivery. The buyer receives the goods, examines them and confirms them and then notifies the third party to pay. The third party then transfers the payment to the seller’s account. In addition to provide convenient basic functions such as payment, transfer and collection, etc. , on October 25, 2008, the payment for public utilities was officially launched, supporting hydro, electricity, and cell phone bill payments.
Based on my observations in China, from the luxury stores to the street vendors, from big cities which has 20 million dwellers to the small, remote villages, because of the widespread use of smartphones, in almost all the business in China, online payments have been popularized, and China’s future is going to be a cashless society.
One of the black swans is that cashless society can stop crimes. The theft of cash, the bank robbery and the attack to the cashier will never happen again and the assault to the cab driver and the teller will all be terminated. The streets of the city will be safer so that security expenses and insurance rates will fall. Drug dealers and their buyers, thieves and recipients of stolen goods, recipients of bribes will no longer use untraceable money. The electronic “currency” leaves a trail of criminal evidence, which leads to arrests and convictions for more criminals. These prosecutions, in turn, would stop more crime.
The automation of logistics and delivery, the widespread use of VR in e-commerce and the new online payment system will revolutionize the traditional retail industry. In China, where e-commerce has been growing rapidly every day, a lot of online shopping have contributed to the downturn of the real economy, thanks to the cheap labor and high population density. There are some opposition and support for online shopping. The main objection is that online shopping will cause a lot of unemployment in traditional industries. But in economics academia, it is clear that automation will not lead to higher unemployment. The opinion among academic experts is that the E-commerce will temporarily cause unemployment, but the unemployment rate will decline as the unemployed turns to the emerging industry. The theory is based on the industrial revolution which took place nearly a century ago, when a large number of machines replaced manual labor but only caused temporary rise in unemployment.
According to the China national post office, from the latest monitoring data on November 11 (China’s Black Friday), the main E-Commerce enterprises generates 850 million express orders and postal courier companies processing 331 million parcels. In 2017, the annual consumption of raw materials of box paper for express packaging amounted to 46 million tons, equivalent to the consumption of 72 million trees. Behind the figures of these huge numbers of transactions, how to deal with these packages and reduce environmental pollution has become an issue to the whole society. A week before the “double 11″(China’s Black Friday), I had received dozens of express parcels. After the thick paper box was opened, I had to tear off the tapes and 3 layers of other packages. At last I touched the centimeter-long lipstick. Yes, in order to ensure that the goods were in perfect condition to be sent to the consumers, the excessive packaging is the only choice. Also, it is difficult to promote packaging recycle and reuse. In order to ensure the goods can be delivered to consumers intact, most of the retailers choose to use plastic tape to reinforce the packaging. When the cardboard boxes with plastic tape are recycled to the paper mill for pulp, the tape will affect the filter, thus causing damage to the machine, so most of the cardboard boxes with too much tape will be discarded directly. Moreover, for tens of millions of small retailers across the world, higher costs are the main reason why they don’t want to use green packaging. Several research and development centers have been working on ways to make cardboard boxes more environmentally friendly, more degradable and less expensive. As for the future of the Earth, we should firmly believe that the Earth will be a better place if human beings do work out how to deal with pollution and global warming.
Based on the current capitals and the potential of the industry, the e-commerce platform will be able to buy and sell anything that can be legally sold in the next ten years, and it will be the real “everything” store. Since the high speed development of science and technology and the rapid accumulation of capital, will lead to super rich and powerful monopoly enterprise, and the enterprise’s business will be in any industries. The big question will be whether these super enterprises will control all of the industries and even deeply influence political and financial structures in the near future (probably within 50 years), and whether the huge gap between rich and poor will make society unable to maintain stability.
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