The 21st century is known as the age of digitalization and with COVID19 spreading like wildfire confining people within the four walls of their bedroom, the importance of having a digital space has grown exponentially. This is why; online businesses have become the new normal. People no longer feel the need to go out physically in order to shop because everything they want is there right in front of them thanks to the availability of online business stores and digital commerce (an amalgamation of electronic and mobile commerce). With businesses constantly shifting online, the online market has become more competitive than it was ever before. It is imperative now for businesses to step up their game and sustain themselves to be digitally relevant.
The Beginning of Online Shopping
Michael Aldrich, an entrepreneur in the United Kingdom, was the one who established the now-so-famous Online Shopping in 1979. If he were not to come up with the idea of online shopping, we wouldn’t even be halfway to where we are now. Videotex technology (an electronic data retrieval system that is used to transmit textual information via cable television lines or telephones to later be displayed on a TV set) was starting to get very famous in the late 1970s. This system was still in its infancy allowing British telecommunications companies to send textual updates via the telephone lines to television sets. Aldrich fiddled with the technology and deduced that a domestic television could be used for communicating with a computer via the telephone so that they can order different goods and services for themselves. As Plato famously wrote “our need will be the real creator”, it is indeed, true that necessity births any invention but if you think about it; why would anyone feel the need to shop online? What would’ve been the need for someone to invent a concept as such when no one was even aware of its possibility?
Jane Snowball, a 72-year-old grandma living in Gateshead, had an unfortunate accident where she broke her hip and therefore, was unable to visit shops in-person; went on to become the worlds’ first online purchaser. Aldrichs’ device was installed in 1984, from where she was able to make the first online shopping order.
Digital Commerce & Online Business
Present-day digital commerce got its start when the first e-commerce websites were created in the 1990s by the very famous Jeff Bezos owned Amazon. After that, countless companies followed its lead.
When the World Wide Web was introduced along with the first browser used to access it, a significant proportion of the conventional commerce population shifted to the internet. Now that globalization has taken over the world, with the availability of efficient broadband connections to the internet and competent smartphones, digital commerce has shifted to mobiles, tablets, and other electronic devices. One can easily buy stuff and make payments against services online thanks to availability of seamless digital payment methods such as through accounts, wallets and debit/credit cards.
Digital Commerce Now
According to statistics, the global digital commerce industry since its advent has grown ever since. If you look at the trends starting from 1999, you would realize the estimated US retail e-commerce sales in 1999 was a little over 0.5 percent of the total retail sales, while in 2007, it rose up to a little less than 3.5 percent.
This growth did not only stop there, the current stats show an even more substantial change.
Digital Commerce in the Domestic Context
Over the last five (5) Fiscal Years (FYs), from FY 2016-17 to FY 2020-21, Digital Commerce in Pakistan has shown consistent growth. As per the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), volumes of payments via digital payment instruments for digital commerce transactions have shown a compound annual growth rate of 45% over the last five (5) FYs.
Why is Digital Commerce Thriving?
Digital commerce offers a variety of benefits through enablement of various commerce use cases for both goods and services including digitization of associated receipts and invoices. Key reasons for the growth in Digital Commerce are provided as follows:
More Personalized Experience:
Online businesses tend to sell products/services that are more customer-centric. Online businesses are able to set up a recommendations list for every purchaser based on their previous purchases. This tactic often makes customers buy products they would not even use simply because it aligns with their interests.
Easy on the Pocket for Sellers
Shifting any business online can reduce its cost of operation significantly. It also removes geographical barriers as the business is not limited to any particular geographical location only enabling businesses to operate from any location and provide their services to an international customer base.
Smartphones-The New Game Changers
Be it online shopping or digital funds transfer, smartphones can do it all. Brands and businesses are making certain that their websites are mobile adaptive. With almost all online businesses establishing their websites and making them compatible with mobile phones/tablets, a larger number of people can easily access them.
Considering the proven success and continuous adoptability of Digital Commerce, it would be difficult for a business to sustain itself in this era of technology solely using brick and mortar channels. If you want to grow your business, then you must be available to everyone and there is only one place through which you can do that, i.e. the internet.