e-commerce future

2020: the end of e-commerce... or the advent of connected commerce?

"2020, the end of e-commerce? "When asked in this way, the question may seem somewhat disconcerting: it may suggest that the dazzling evolution of online sales, which began fifteen years ago and is driven by the tremendous dynamics we are all familiar with, could one day come to an end within ten years. Behind this title lies another reality. Not that of the death of e-commerce, but rather that of the end of the artificial distinction between e-commerce and commerce.
Sccording to a study carried out by Fevad for the Ministry of Economy, a strong conviction appears: tomorrow's consumers will not be aware of this dichotomy between online and in-store purchasing. They will take the good sides of e-commerce: easier search, time saving, the fact of being able to order 24 hours a day, customer reviews... and local purchasing, whose human and physical dimension will remain essential: contact with a salesperson, the possibility of seeing the details of a product, the immediacy of possession, the scenario of the offer and the customer journey...
Tomorrow's commerce will naturally allow a buyer to search for a product on a digital medium, to decide whether to buy it in a store or online, from a fixed or portable terminal, to have it delivered or picked up in a store near his home, to benefit from an after-sales service near his home or to pick it up at a relay point, a point of sale or from a private individual. E-commerce will be a shopping experience fully integrated into real life.
The commercial world of tomorrow will be more complex because it will be more open. And it is forcing decision-makers to think fast, multi-screen and cross-channel today to bring coherence to theonline and offline. The end of the duality between commerce and e-commerce will mark the advent of a new era: that of "connected" commerce. Physical and virtual stores will be more than ever connected to each other and to the outside world, creating a new proximity with consumers.
Faced with these promising prospects, the regulation of e-commerce is also becoming a major issue. It must accompany the development of e-commerce, provide a stable, balanced and empowering environment that will both seal consumer confidence and encourage companies to invest in innovation and progress in order to meet the requirements of tomorrow's commerce.
Fevad, through this prospective study carried out by Catherine Barba, with the support of the DGCIS and the assistance of many actors and experts, offers you to draw the broad outline of what the e-commerce landscape will be in 10 years. Where is e-commerce going?
One thing is certain: we are only at the very beginning of this revolution that will continue to change the world for the next century, offering services that we cannot imagine today. No one knows what will be invented...

The e-commerce landscape of the future

What will the world look like in 2020? Unstable global economic conditions, financial turmoil, fantastic population growth and huge imbalances... huge uncertainties weigh on the world.
The major financial, demographic and technological trends shed light on this world of 2020 where everything will be interdependent.
The world of 2020
From a financial point of view, the financial centre of the world has shifted to Asia, and the masters of the world economy are caught in considerable difficulties: the American financial system is in great instability, in Japan the population is ageing and shrinking, and in Europe the debt burden is enormous.
Western countries, which have been living far above their means since 1979, have had to maintain consumption at all costs. As a result, there has been an increase in debt, financed not by real work-related income but by the capital gains generated by an increase in the value of assets; Greece, Ireland and Portugal are close to bankruptcy. There is no mobility of labour forces in Europe. And no federal budget to compensate for differences in competitiveness.
But the world is not short of money. The value of the monetary wealth of the world's financial assets is estimated at $400 trillion in 2011.
Humankind has the means to finance its growth, but the instability and fragility of financial systems create great uncertainty about what 2020 will look like.
Demographic trends are easier to predict. In 2050, the planet will have at least nine billion inhabitants, with a strong growth of the American population which will reach 500 million. The current European Union will remain stable. By 2035, there will be more French than Germans, Turks than Russians. In India there will be 1.4 billion people, in China 1.3 billion, and Nigeria will be the third largest country in the world in terms of population. Africa's population will double to two billion by 2050.
Life expectancy will continue to increase by two months a year in developed countries. Children born today in 2011 will be 100 years old. In countries like India or China, the economic priority is already to have boys. If selective abortion becomes widespread, there will be a shortage of women: it is estimated that 150 million women will be "missing" in 2050. The dichotomy between the material situation of men, who are more urban, and women, who are more present in the countryside, will be strong.
The other very important demographic change will be the displacement of populations. Movement will be the rule. When only three million people today study abroad, one billion people will be living in a country other than the one in which they were born by 2050.
Finally, if today half of the world's population lives in cities, in 2050 it will be two thirds, and 1000 cities will have more than five million inhabitants. The urban population will double in less than 40 years. Water, roads, housing, food supplies and trade will all have to adapt.
Today, 2000 billion tonnes of cereals are produced in the world. To meet the food needs of 7 to 9 billion human beings, with the urban population shift, the increase in life expectancy... this production will have to be doubled!
When it comes to technology, there is today an extraordinary optimism in technical progress. The Internet is likely to form the infrastructure from which an unprecedented spread of technology in all aspects of our lives will take place.
Some say that we have entered into a revolution, the third, after that of industry and agriculture. "She who hasn't got a name yet. It will be the wave of the "great convergence" between computing and networks, nanotechnologies, biotechnologies and cognitive sciences - what the Americans summarize by the acronym "NBIC", injecting billions of dollars into it. We will be able to "augment" objects, space, bodies, minds in a mechanical, chemical and computational way". predicts Jean-Michel Billaut.
While technological developments will change the way we use the Internet (see below), they will also change banking systems as a whole.
One billion people in the world in 2011 will have a bank account; 5 billion will have a mobile phone. In the Philippines and Kenya, mobile phones are primarily a means of payment. The revolution in mobile shopping has begun, much more important than announced. Mobile shopping has exploded. Smartphones and next generation digital tablets will all be equipped with mobile payment technology.
In the face of these developments, questions about the future of e-commerce, and more generally of commerce, are going full speed ahead. 
What are the questions through which we envisage the e-commerce of tomorrow?
Some fifty interviews conducted with e-commerce players led the authors of the report to identify the questions raised by the future of e-commerce. The most frequently asked questions are listed below:
What will be the main channel in 2020 to access consumers?
Motive! The e-merchants of today are responding massively. Meteoric growth, announced ergonomic evolutions and a means of communication and purchase that will be in every pocket.
When it comes to customer relations first, the telephone (actually augmented in 2020?) is likely to remain in a good position. When customers today are asked the question of the preferred channel for contacting customer service (source: BVA observatory of customer services), the telephone garners 51% of votes, followed by face-to-face (25%), website (13%), email (10%) and postal mail (3%). The motivation for using the first two channels is "human contact".
When decision makers are asked which channels they will use to interact with their customers, they answer: email to 24%, web to 24%, phone to 23%, face-to-face and mail to 19% and mobile to 10%. (source Markess 2010). These face-to-face figures reveal the opposition between customer expectations and business vision.
Each contact channel will have to reinvent itself to offer more relationships and even more experiences, more added value in the exchange, and give the customer human, smile, good memories.
In terms of purchasing, the mobile phone is a medium that lends itself very well to impulse buying. According to Accenture, eight out of ten smartphone owners would like to be able to download discount coupons and three out of four would like to receive them in real time at their point of purchase, simply by walking past a product.
For the moment, the push of SMS messages brandishing a promotion when you pass in front of a store rather evokes the clumsiness of the 1995 shopping sites. However, many innovations are paving the way towards this reality. Thus, !iButterfly is a Japanese iPhone application of augmented reality that allows to capture coupons in the form of butterflies. By using the motion sensor, people will be able to take advantage of the coupon capture and do it physically to get useful information, content, and discounts. The application available on the Store in Japanese is a success and will allow in the near future to make marketing campaigns by hunting the butterfly.
In terms of loyalty, new services are appearing on smartphones: wallet applications for multi-store loyalty cards (Fidall or Fidme) or retailer loyalty cards (Best Buy, Starbucks, Casino, Carrefour, Auchan) are replacing physical cards. La Croissanterie even offers to combine its purchases with its public transport card. The advent of paperless loyalty programs should logically follow the adoption curve of telephones connected to the Internet. With 62 million loyalty cards in the mass retail sector for example (French customers have an average of 3.7 loyalty cards), the challenge for retailers is easy to see.
For retailers, the possibilities of use are numerous and exciting. With the mobile, we are moving from the Web logic "I'm looking for something" to "I'm here, tell me what's around me", made even easier and more intuitive in the coming years by the announced disappearance of urls in favour of applications. We'll walk down the street like we surf the Web, in an augmented reality.
We already see interactive shop windows communicating with mobiles. Franprix in Paris, which says it wants to go from "supermarket to supermarket", has placed giant iPhones on the windows of some of its stores to provide information about its neighbourhood: the nearest Velib' stations and the number of bikes available, the subway stations and the times of the next passages. Auchan has developed an application that looks like a "store GPS".
In the United States, Google's new storefront stickers, with a chip that communicates with any phone equipped with an NFC chip, make it possible to obtain all the information about a merchant. It is easy to imagine adding these stickers to an advertising poster or window display.
Google Shopping has the ambition to make it possible to say where to find the product you are looking for nearby and at what price; a sort of "Around Me" product that would work, mixing Web and physical.
T-commerce (e-commerce on interactive TVs, based on semantic and social recommendation engines) is also often mentioned as another main channel of tomorrow to access customers.. Current innovations in connectable and connected television are very important, and will accelerate the shift from text and images on e-commerce sites to video.
"60% of the content of e-commerce sites is already on video", predicts Frédéric Pie, founder of Hubee, a specialist in connected television. A more pleasant way to access content on the brand, a product, to listen to a consumer or expert opinion. "A Forrester study also shows that video content can increase the effectiveness of its natural referencing on Google 53 times over. "confirms AWE's Alexandre Garnier.
Will the growth of the Internet continue? In what form?
A very recent Cisco study "Global IP traffic forecast" gives dizzying figures on the rise in Internet traffic and video usage between now and 2017.
The number of connected means of communication in 2015 is thus twice as many as the connected population; each one uses on average two types of Internet access, combining PCs, TVs, tablets, smartphones...
The study also points out that since 2012, more than 50% of content available on the Internet is in video format (not counting videos exchanged in Peer to Peer). This figure reaches 62% in 2015. Video in all its forms (TV, video on demand, Internet, P2P) thus represents approximately 90% of global Internet traffic in 2016.
One million minutes of video content will be deposited per second on the network in 2016, the equivalent of five years of viewing!
These colossal numbers indicate that we may have to worry about the pipes. The ability to adapt infrastructure to the needs of connected trade will also undoubtedly be one of the major challenges of the future.
Will consumers always look for the low price?
The question of price on the Internet is currently evolving, particularly with the massive arrival of brands and retailers on the e-commerce market, forced by their distribution networks to align their pricing policy. Since they cannot display prices that are cheaper than their physical prices, they cannot attract Internet users with a price-based promise.
Depending on the sources and the prism of the interlocutor on the subject of low prices, the position varies significantly: according to the merchants, 55% of French people who buy on the Internet do so for low prices, while 84% do so for practical reasons (Bearingpoint/LSA 2010 study). According to Médiametrie: 98% of Internet users answer "the price" to the question "What are the main criteria that determine your choice of a site for your purchases? ». Only after guaranteed delivery times and good after-sales service (93%), followed by free delivery charges (90%).
In fact, even if the success of Cdiscount, Groupon, PriceMinister or Vente-Privée suggests that consumers are not so indifferent to bargains and discounted prices, it is clear that they are no longer just looking for the lowest price.
In use, the Internet has changed their perception of the value of a product, leaving an increasing emphasis on the service dimension. If Internet users compare prices, they do so by including at least six other dimensions: the quality of the product, the breadth of the offer, the services offered (cost and delivery times, after-sales service, extended warranty, etc.), the quality of their experience on the site (navigation, clear product presentation, simplicity of purchase), the confidence they have in the merchant and, finally, the quality/price ratio.
It is on the basis of all these criteria that he will arbitrate to decide which merchant to place his order with. Price is no longer the determining attribute, even in very competitive markets.
The recent OC&C survey on the attractiveness of e-commerce sites in Europe proves it: champions, regardless of country, are not the cheapest.
For the merchant, the problem tomorrow will not be so much to be the lowest as to be very well positioned on the right product/image/price mix with his target. There will have to be a perception of "value for money", giving consumers a lot of it while keeping prices reasonable. This will imply making the right logistical choices to have an acceptable quality of delivery, and reaching a certain size so that gross margins cover the expenses of catalogue shooting, IT, after-sales service and marketing.
It will be a difficult equation to keep up, especially in the competitive mid-market. In order to have a chance to do so, you will have to be extremely efficient in your work on your brand image and merchandising; take care of your image, the visuals, and the scripting of your products to make people want them and give them a sense of quality and seriousness. So many elements to work on in order to create confidence and to assert a differentiation on other dimensions than price in order to attract buyers.
The challenge will therefore no longer be to be the cheapest, but to be the cheapest for the value provided..
The current changes in e-commerce are part of the history of modern commerce which began with Aristide Boucicaut in 1852, founder of Le Bon Marché. A look at the past shows that all forms of sales are "born by price" and all "die by price". To sum up, Monoprix, in the 1930s, was the Lidl of its time. What will Cdiscount look like in 2020?
Is social shopping a fad that will pass?
The subject is divisive. Some of the e-commerce players affirm, as this manager of click et mortar: "Your Webospheric boiling in 2.0 sauce is a far cry from my concerns as a merchant. My daily subjects are price, service, loyalty, supply, management of field men and logistics ".
However, the majority think that social networks are going to become real market places.
"E-commerce sites will always exist", advances Christine Balagué, "but it is likely that a significant portion of the purchases will be transferred to these sites. We will see the creation of community platforms with virtual currencies, in any case, monetization systems that will allow peer-to-peer purchasing in particular. We will have to adapt to these phenomena, beyond simply selling on Facebook. And think about e-commerce as an element of social shopping community".
For Loïc Le Meur, social commerce via social media will go far beyond Facebook Connect. Consumers will no longer buy anything without consulting their friends first. This new behaviour will continue to change the rules for a long time to come: it will be common to see what your friends think about a product in real time, to know in real time which products are talked about the most, which ones are bought the most; everything will converge towards a social, real-time and mobile e-commerce. Merchants and customers will have a tool to know which products sell best in a week or a month to other buyers.
Serge Soudoplatoff also maintains that we will continue to witness an explosion of social shopping. "We'll do business together. The technology will make it possible, while surfing on an e-commerce site, to know if one of my friends is there at the same time, to call him, and to surf on the same site, in a synchronized way. This will meet both the need for reassurance and the desire for a hedonistic and communal act of buying. In the same way, we will see the development of crowd sourcing, the indexing by the crowd of old books, movies... One more reason to open its databases and entrust them to their (good) exploitation by the crowd; everything will have to be done to facilitate the link".
What will the technologies of tomorrow be?
Our contemporary technological imagination has been turned upside down. From a vision of the future inspired by "2001 Space Odyssey", with technical objects foreign to our intimacy and understanding, we have moved in less than a generation to the Internet, which is changing our relationship to the world, and which our children can see having an immediate understanding and intuitive use of.
We are in a world where, as Henri Kaufman says, " never has the future been so near and the past so far. ». Every two years new concepts and new technologies appear; in 2020 there will be concepts that we are unable to know today.
However, we can identify three areas that could be disrupted by the new "3.0" technologies in the near future, and that should strongly modify the possibilities of e-commerce:
–          The Semantic Web :
Considerable progress has been made in recent years in the field of automatic natural language processing, otherwise known as Linguistic Engineering.
Today Google responds with a list of sources; it is up to the user to make the synthesis. The Semantic Web, which complements HTML tags with meaning-carrying tags, will synthesize and give a response that will create new referrals. "Google compared to a semantic engine is like a stagecoach in the age of the hydrogen car," says Jean-Marie Boucher of Consoglobe.
Philippe Humeau confirms it: to process the colossal amount of data that will be produced in 2020, integrated artificial intelligence and less linear reasoning will be needed. Quantum computers, allowing to manage infinitely more different information simultaneously, the Semantic Web and artificial intelligence will make it possible to find what one is looking for very simply and very quickly.
–          The pervasive web:
It is an ubiquitous network made of objects that communicate with each other, "device to device", "object to object", "machine to machine", as is already the case with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), a technology that makes it possible to identify an object, follow its path and know its characteristics remotely thanks to a label emitting radio waves, attached to or incorporated into the object.
Each object will thus have an IP address. With the development of 3D and holograms, the shift towards virtual commerce will become a reality, the barrier between the "virtual" and the real will give way, as will the barrier between the "natural" and the "artificial".
This will also relieve the man of 2020 of some of his duties. For example, in the car, intelligent software will communicate with the mechanic's software and will be able to indicate: "in 3 weeks, at the speed you are driving, you will need to do a revision. Reading our two agendas reveals a possibility on Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.". In travel agencies, on request: "there are five of us, with a dog, we would like to go to the sun the first two weeks of August, we love the mountains and tennis but have a limited budget", the pervasive Web will automatically provide intelligent suggestions.
–          Nomadic marketing:
Beyond multi-channel, it is the "seamless marketing.Seamless marketing. Nomadic marketing for nomadic consumers. The marketing of applications, especially mobile applications, will develop a lot, to refine geopersonalization and contextualization.
To carry out this marketing linked to applications (downloaded but also invisible, between machines), multidisciplinary teams will be needed, bringing together marketing, IT and sales forces.
What will be the business models of tomorrow's e-commerce?
We are in a world of hyper-competitiveness that is self-regulated by the law of the market. Situations of monopoly or even just leadership are extremely precarious.
"Today, we are already witnessing the relative decline of eBay in France, its model has aged because it has not brought enough confidence and has had to face the rise of competition from Amazon, Bon Coin, PriceMinister, who have nibbled away at its territory". analysis Jean-David Chamboredon.
Tomorrow, many business models will coexist or will be intertwined: e-commerce, cross-channel, marketplaces, websites, etc. "on demandThe new "people to people" model, which allows you to shop online at local stores, then pick them up the same evening or have them delivered to your home...
Yield management (optimisation of price according to the intensity of demand), auction systems and last-minute deals will become systematic and will apply to most sectors.

The end of e-commerce?

In the end, the question does not so much mean that the death of e-commerce is now in question, that it signals the end of the artificial distinction between e-commerce and commerce.
Tomorrow's consumers will not be familiar with the dichotomy between buying online and buying in stores. They will take the good aspects of e-commerce: easier search, time saving, the fact that they can order 24 hours a day... and local purchasing, whose human and physical dimension remains essential: contact with a salesperson, advice, customer service, the possibility of seeing the details of a product, the immediacy of possession...
Tomorrow's commerce will naturally allow a buyer to search for a product on a digital medium, to decide whether to buy it in a store or online, to have it delivered or picked up in a store near his home / to benefit from an after-sales service near his home or to go and pick it up at a relay point, a point of sale or from a private individual.
E-commerce will be a shopping experience fully integrated with real life.
Vincent Ravat of Hammerson says: "We could imagine limiting the size of the physical premises but multiplying the technological tools to open up the choice: for the consumer, the store will be the visible part of the iceberg in sensory presence, complemented by the power of technology to create a global experience. Technological tools are not an end in themselves for the consumer, who will also want a return to reality that is simpler, more concrete, more personal, more human. Under no circumstances will everyone find themselves isolated behind a computer or a mobile phone. The challenge for e-commerce will be to combine new technologies and a return to reality".
The end of e-commerce is therefore also the end of physical commerce as it is practiced today.
The store will be part of a cross-channel process, communicating with customers upstream and downstream of the purchase decision, via the Web and mobile; it will extend to the Web, social networks and mobile. It will be a "multimodal" store, permanently accessible, responding to the customer's need to order where he wants, when he wants.
To create the link with the Internet, the store will probably be multi-connected, digitalized, with recourse to a very wide range of technologies using smartphones, screens, RFID terminals, mobile tags, augmented reality terminals... A store that is interactive with the consumer.
At Uniqlo in Japan, customers who can't find their size can already place an order on an Internet kiosk, have the product delivered to their home or pick it up in a store or in a "Combini", a network of neighborhood grocery stores open in every street 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, offering an unprecedented variety of services: ATM, fax, relay point, dining area...
Because online, on the e-commerce site, the customer often finds himself relatively alone with the products, he will place the human relationship at a much higher level of requirement in store. More than ever before, faced with an online shopping experience in self-service mode, the customer will be sensitive to human contact and attention, in store, but also by telephone. Zappos may only make 5% of its orders via the telephone, but is over-investing in this channel to make it a memorable experience, because it is betting that one day or another every customer will call.
We used to sell product, tomorrow we'll sell experience. We need to create new consumer experiences, and to do this we need to be open and creative: taking measurements with a laser scanner, taking care of children, managing our customers' journeys; in China, Carrefour charters buses to save its customers from using their cars.
In 2020, the customer will not want a cold transaction or a tasteless relationship; they will be looking for a rich and personalized experience. Merchants will thus put the priority on service and on the human factor, with a warm, friendly relationship. As at La Grande Récré, where employees wear a badge that qualifies them as "big sister advisor" or "papa advisor".
The challenge will be to provide an educational, interactive and surprising customer experience on each channel. A human experience that is a source of pleasure and emotion.


The current changes in e-commerce and commerce are creating new sources of value for traders. So many constraints as well. The commercial world of tomorrow will be more complex because it will be more open. It forces decision-makers to think fast, multi-screen and cross-channel, to make online and offline coherent.
If consumers are looking for the best value for money, they also expect a new shopping experience today; far from becoming virtual, they have become ultra-sensitive to the attention, attitudes, promises and consistent evidence of companies at all points of contact.
In the end, in order to seduce a demanding, over-informed consumer in search of emotion and meaning, in 2020 we will need to be able to return to the fundamentals of good business sense while using constantly evolving technology; to be a merchant with a gift for ubiquity, who always thinks customer.
Because, to have a chance to continue to capture the customer, to manage uncertainty, this perpetual movement of the cross-channel, you will have to constantly adapt to his expectations, and to do so, you will have to show a lot of empathy and listening; to be totally connected to the consumer and his experienceThis is what brings the customer back and ultimately leads to profitability.
Adequate positioning and merchandising, openness, transparency, listening and customer relations across all channels: this is quite an extensive programme that awaits retailers, brands and distributors if they want to be among the leaders of tomorrow's "connected" commerce.
Faced with these challenges, the public authorities will have to continue to encourage the adaptation of infrastructures to the needs of connected commerce, guarantee consumer protection, create the legal conditions for the development of European e-commerce in the face of the United States, but it will not be up to them to change mentalities, practices and customs in order to "reinvent" commerce enterprises.
It's up to each manager, each individual to take initiatives, to be reactive and to question themselves regularly, because the Internet makes things move at full speed, and brands and distributors who don't do so will be out of step with the expectations and needs of their customers. It takes 2,500 hours to master a new language; tomorrow's business champions will be the companies that have implemented the projects as soon as possible to adapt, adopt a resolutely new way of thinking about customers and company organisation. Tomorrow too, the challenge will not be so much technical as human.
Source : Fevad- Catherine Barba

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Takanobu Nishimoto
Previous article

In Japan, you hire a "good guy" to confide in...

service transformation
Next article

Banks and customer satisfaction, what's the problem?

Latest articles in Transfer of Services



Already registered? I'm connecting

Register and read three articles for free. Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with the latest news.

→ Register for free to continue reading.



You have received 3 free articles to discover UP'.

Enjoy unlimited access to our content!

From $1.99 per week only.