The Future of Online Business

This article is the first in a series of three intended to equip you with all you need to know for your online business to flourish! In our first article we consider the future of online business, the second will discuss how one can implement techniques to take advantage of the predicted changes in this sector, and the third article will solely focus on how to get your online business noticed.

Perhaps one of the most prevalent trends in the world today is the exponential growth of online retail. This growth was not unexpected by any means, however, the world is starting to enter a phase in which online retail will emerge as the dominant business form in the world. So what changes can we expect in the near future?

The past

To prepare for the future one must first fully understand the past, so, let’s set the scene. Online retail emerged soon after the general public gained access to the Internet, however, only in the last decade or so has it become a force to be reckoned with and shows little to no signs of slowing. Sites like eBay embody this trend perfectly as, although founded in 1995, it was not until 2008 that eBay could truly be considered a global business powerhouse.

The e-commerce sector isn’t yet as big as the classic brick and mortar retail sector but this fact is expected to change sooner rather than later. This perplexing growth has several implications for the average man, the most important being that the future of business lies online. This is in evidence even at the very top of the retail game, as stalwarts of the brick and mortar model, such as Walmart, have begun to offer online purchasing options. This fact alone make it’s evident that the concept of doing business online is something that we all must embrace.
However, the Internet is currently saturated with online businesses all attempting to use the same methods to sell their similar products. So what is the future of online business and how can you stay ahead of the game to take advantage of it?

Personalised Customer Experience

The emergence of online businesses offering a personalised experience to their customers is expected to be the single biggest and most prominent trend in the coming years. But what does this concept actually entail? A ‘personalised’ experience can be offered in many ways but the actual concept essentially boils down to making the customer feel personally catered for and valued.

Already this trend is prevalent among certain online businesses; however, it’s expected to really catch fire in the coming years. Offering a personalised customer experience will be the online business’s reply to what has long been considered the sector’s biggest flaw, namely that technology can be a highly impersonal thing. Many people shop for the experience of shopping and are thus hesitant to sacrifice this for the impersonal point and click method of most online businesses. This is a problem that a personalised customer experience will bypass.

It is worth noting that there is currently a lot of controversy around this subject as some see the relentless pursuit of a customer’s personal preferences as an invasion of privacy.

Technological culture

The technology industry is booming as there is a constant rush by the general public to pounce on the latest app or social media platform. Given this, there is simply no denying that the future of online businesses are intrinsically linked to the ever-changing technological culture of their customers. If online businesses hope to stay relevant they must keep up with these trends. To put it simply, technology has become the new primary form of communication, especially among the youth. Therefore, in the future, online businesses will almost need to become a social presence in themselves, with the ability to quickly and relevantly reach out to their customers. It is no exaggeration to say that the days of running an online business with a hands off approach are all but over, as your business will now simply flounder if not actively promoted.

Competition

It is relatively common knowledge that the future of business is online. It stands to reason then that most entrepreneurs will move into this sector in the near future, which means that the future online market, irrespective of what you’re selling, is going to be fiercely competitive. Therefore, future online businesses will need to come up with innovative ideas to gain a competitive edge over the competition.

In the future, online businesses must be able to evolve instantly, as the concept of online retail increasingly moves away from being a seldom-used novelty to becoming the predominant form of shopping in the world. This can best be explained through an example: when computers first came out they were insanely expensive, however, as it became more and more common place to have them, the price dropped. Those firms not willing to drop their prices quickly went out of business. This phenomenon has already started to occur in the e-commerce sector but is expected to become more pronounced in the future.

There are some major changes envisaged in the online retail sector in the near future. Because of its exceptional growth this sector is a volatile beast, however, it’s extremely important to take note and prepare for its impending evolution. To put it simply, the future of online business is actually the future of business itself.

Great! You now have an awareness of what’s expected to happen in the retail sector but have no idea how to prepare for it. Well there is no need to worry as the second article in this series, ‘How to Make Your Online Business Successful’ will answer many of your questions and more!

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