Shopping: The Evolution of Buying Online
The speed with which the e-commerce industry has grown and become an integral part of our lives is astonishing, so much so that even though the notion of completing a purchase of any product, or service, via the internet is a relatively new one (relatively speaking) it’s something we now couldn’t consider living without.
So critical has it become to pretty much all of us, that pretty much every industry has moved a large percentage, if not all, of their commercial activities to this method of custom.
Depending on how you look at it, the internet has become the lifeblood of the retail sector but has clearly led to a downsizing of the presence of stores on main street and jobs have been lost in the process.
However as a customer things have never been better. The online buying revolution has, on the whole, driven the costs of most goods downwards, due to the resultant drop in overhead costs associated with stores and shops, of all sizes.
It’s been a gradual process but one that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon and indeed the increase in e-commerce activity has altered the way many services do business, a necessary reaction to efforts to fit the online shopping space.
Clearly we’ve long since become used to the concept of ordering online to receive all manner of goods and the likes of Amazon have become shopping behemoths as a result and now pretty much anything you could ever want is within relatively easy reach.
The growth of online shopping is as steady as it is inevitable. Forbes reported that in 2016 48% of our shopping was done online, in 2017 this had risen to 51% and the surge continues.
Indeed during the pandemic these numbers moved ever quicker as circumstances forced many who had hitherto avoided online purchasing, into moving into the digital age, simply because they didn’t have a choice other than to do so.
In the not too distant past the concept, and process, revolving around the delivery of food would’ve been unheard of. Now it’s a standard part of the e-commerce ecosystem and this in turn has actually revolutionized some areas of the catering industry.
One big change has come in the form of meal delivery kits, which is something of a halfway house between ordering a takeaway meal and getting your groceries delivered to your front door.
Meal delivery kits are essentially a low cost way of securing relevant ingredients for a certain specified number of meals that usually suit a specific need, be that a vegan household or an individual trying to work within a low sodium diet.
This is an example of how the e-commerce market has adapted to such an extent that a new niche is the bi-product.
Other areas didn’t, previously, seem like a good fit (no pun intended) when it comes to online shopping. The clothing industry was, and still is to some extent, predicated on the belief that an individual would have to try on the clothes and accessories they are set to buy.
This has ceased to be the case, either because people were able to better use their imaginations or technology has been developed to help users to do so. Some brands have brought in apps that can give you the impression of what you look like wearing certain outfits and these kinds of advances help to bridge the gap for those who are reticent about online shopping.
There has been a marked reduction, as with other industries, in the costs of clothing due to the shift from physical stores to online ones. You can now pick up a real bargain, see for yourself, and this is sure to continue as we move more and more to a virtual marketplace which, in time, will almost certainly be where most of us will choose to make our clothing purchases..
Medical Services and Online Therapy
Perhaps the last relative taboo within the e-commerce industry comes in the form of medical and wellness industries. These have long been considered areas that were simply too personal to evolve to fit the online sphere, but that’s also no longer the case.
Now many healthtech based companies allow patients to conduct appointments with board certified doctors remotely. These services can be used to deal with relatively low-level diagnosis but are fast evolving to the extent that the introduction of sensor technology will allow you, at home, to transmit health checks such as blood pressure, directly to a doctor (in real-time) during a face to face consultation.
Similarly the use of therapists and others in the wellness field, via online communication means, has become more and more popular. In this case there are clear tangible benefits for those who do not feel comfortable conducting sessions in direct contact or are perhaps unable to do so. These are good examples of how online behaviors offer an additional value beyond the simple ease of service that one would typically associate with such transactions and services.
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