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January 11, 2019

2018: The Year When Ecommerce Became The Commerce


From the internet’s first creation, it was clear that it was going to change almost every part of normal life. One of the important human activities that has been affected the greatest is how we buy and sell. Ecommerce, the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet, has swiftly become just as, if not more, popular and powerful than high street retail. Non-food sales online rose by 7.5% in the past year and it is predicted to increase by even more this year. There are many different reasons for this, most of which are very logical and understandable.

Ecommerce’s spectacular rise

Arguably the most influential way in which internet retailing appeals to human nature is the ease in which it can be done. If there is a digital device with an internet connection available, then Ecommerce can always happen. This convivence gives online retail an upper hand over the high street because it plays to most people’s natural laziness (don’t lie to yourself).

Instead of having to trek all the way into and all around a city centre or shopping centre to scout out a new purchase, consumers can complete a whole shopping trip from their own home. Instead of having to physically travel to a shop, a store can be visited by typing in its name into google. This is one of the major reasons why almost 80% of the UK’s population shopped online in 2018.

There is also a lot of money to be saved in internet retailing, for both the businesses and customers. A high street store can be a very expensive investment. Rent, shop staff wages and security can all add up to prove quite damaging in terms of profit. These costs can be almost completely cut by eliminating the need for a physical shop and turning completely Ecommerce.

As retailer’s costs are cut, the products they sell can afford to be sold cheaper. This another major factor in why so many consumers turn to the internet when doing their shopping. They feel like they’re more likely to find a bargain, which for most parts is true. Not only are many products they see are going to be cheaper than high street prices, it will be easier to find exactly what they are looking for by making their searches very specific (i.e. ‘cheap Nike air max’).

After taking all of this into account, it is not difficult to see why multichannel Ecommerce has become the powerful and influential market it is today. The instant accessibility and efficiency it provides for both business and consumer makes it irresistible for most. However, all of this progress made by the online retail community is unfortunately at the expense of the high street.

E-commerce, internet online shopping and delivery concept. Household kitchen appliances and home technics in boxes. 3d illustration

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The effect on offline retail

Ever since the internet started to really take off, the high street has been slowly, but surely, dying right in front of our eyes. This is no coincidence; the internet is strangling many stores with its irrepressible advantages. For example, clothing spending declined by 2.9%, the biggest fall since October 2017

I first noticed it with the closure of Blockbuster when I was only a teenager. For years it had been immensely popular, with a loyal customer base who would visit the store to rent videos regularly. Even when the internet first started having its major influence Blockbuster seemed like it was still going strong. Then came online streaming. With Netflix at the forefront, the internet’s inevitable dominance started to be implemented. With almost all film and TV on steaming platforms, the demise of video rental stores was swift. This is a trend that has continued to this very day, high-street stores suffering from Ecommerce’s easiness and accessibility.

From clothes stores like Topshop are suffering from online clothing retailers such as Asos, to record stores such as HMV suffering from music streaming sites such as Spotify, wherever there is an online option, the high street option becomes second best. This means that people’s jobs are being sacrificed to this new forward thinking marketplace. In the first 8 months of 2018, 85,000 people lost their jobs as a result of the large number of high street businesses going bust.

Row of abandoned high street shops

There’s still hope for the high street

Although it may be mostly be a hard struggle for the high street, and more than likely it will worsen before improves, there is still some hope. This is because as long as shopping is seen as a hobby or leisure activity rather than just always a chore, the high street will always, maybe not thrive, but survive.

For many, travelling into the city centre or to a shopping centre can be a fun day out with friends or family.  Therefore, as far as I can see, society will never depend solely on buying and selling through the internet. Furthermore, there are types of shops that the internet cannot replace, no matter how advanced technology gets.

Two great examples of this would be restaurants and salons. These are two types of business whose customer are in it for the quality and experience not the easiness and quickness.  Therefore, the internet will never, in my time at least, take away the need for going out and carefully sourcing the best experience available.

Although it isn’t in danger of becoming completely extinct, if these trends continue, it is predicted that by 2030 that almost half of all UK stores will have closed. Even recently, major companies like Marks & Spencers announced it was shutting 100 stores, while House of Fraser had to be rescued by tycoon Mike Ashley after going bankrupt. With giant brands like these being damaged so badly by internet retail, it seems as if no ones safe.

Despite all this apparent doom and gloom, it is all in the best interest of commercial advancement and breakthrough. After all, you cannot halt progress. Those who are pushed aside by Ecommerce’s rise will in turn benefit from it in some shape of form. Whether it is making everyday tasks doable in a matter of minutes or ensuring that the most value for money is achieved, Ecommerce has, and will continue to, proved that its here to stay. And rightfully so.