Jun 27 2017
future of ecommerce 10 years out

Future of Ecommerce: How Technology Will Change in 10 Years

If we told you that by 2027 humans wouldn’t be driving anymore, never had to touch a dollar bill, or would be willing to cut off an arm for an electronic one, would you call us crazy? Potentially, but in 10 years time the earth will be a very different place, and technology will only be further refined from the budding possibilities that we are seeing now. As we look forward to some of the potential directions humanity will move towards when it comes to technology, a lot of these will completely change how people purchase goods. From automated cars to the mass adoption of contactless payment, the technology of today will become the norm of tomorrow (maybe).

Automated Vehicles

In the past year, self-driving cars, drones, and delivery robots have piqued the interest of consumers, but will these technologies play a role a decade from now? Currently we need people behind the wheel of self-driving trucks and cars, but in the future automation, AI, and hardware will likely be at a point where the human factor won’t be a necessity. From drones in the sky, to delivery vehicles on the road and underground, to last-mile robots navigating pedestrian paths, these automated systems will be the largest disruptor to the shipping industry. While it’s hard to say when countries will fully embrace and allow this kind of technology, China and Japan are already set to make this a reality by 2020. In the US, we are still fighting just to use hobby drones for photography, but it’s not unreasonable to think drones will be in the air by 2027.

In 10 years time, shipping will have gone through another renaissance period. Brands like Amazon are establishing their own fleets, and other companies are tapping into their existing teams to deliver goods. In Washington, DC there are now robots from Starship labs providing food deliveries. What all of this hardware infrastructure will amount to over the next decade is the move from extensive shipping times (anything over two days), down to next day, same day, and eventually same-hour shipping. This will only be further improved when countries fully embrace automated vehicles, making them dual purpose and more fully embracing a flexible public transportation system.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

If you think virtual reality and augmented reality are cool now, wait until you see how they have changed civilization by 2027. What we currently experience in retail stores, touching, seeing, smelling, all of that will be available in some manner through VR and AR in the future. While 10 years may seem like a stretch, the technology needed to turn virtual items into physical (by way of appealing to our senses) already exists. From smell-o-vision to haptic wearables and suits, one of ecommerce’s most impossible hurdles will be solved: being able to physically interact with and test something before you buy it.

This could also create another more interesting side effect. Right now virtual items are typically not perceived to retain the same value to that of a physical item. They can be replicated in seconds, you can’t put them in your pocket or give them to a friend, and right now you certainly can’t touch them. However, what happens when we begin to have the technology to actually touch and interact with these virtual items? It’ll be an entirely new marketplace for ecommerce, where designers can replace engineers, and manufacturing is as simple as copying and pasting code (with some crazy futuristic DRM throw in for good measure). The psychology associated with virtual items will certainly change as technology allows, but that may be a bit further out than a decade from now.

Wearables and Embedded Technology

If you think the Apple Watch is just a hunk of junk, you are not all that wrong. How about Fitbits and all the other fitness wearables on the market? They may get people moving, but besides that, they are losing market share because there has been little to no innovation, and therefore no mass integration into our lives. If there is one thing that Apple got right though, it’s with contactless payment. In 10 years time, we’ll still have credit cards and cash, but the convenience of contactless payments embedded will be widely adopted. But why stop at watches, a technology that for the most part has been dissolved by smartphones?

Wearable tech will be integrated into our glasses, clothing, shoes, and even purses and bookbags. Sure, these devices will still be able to help you track your steps, but more importantly, they’ll store your universal payment chips. As long as tech finds the balance between where we are now and enhancing our lives, people will be more keen on adopting and integrating it into their routine.

Embedded Buying – The Connected Home

Voice assistants are becoming more popular, but in the future, embedded buying will replace our need to interact with digital store fronts. Why bother pulling up an app or site on your phone or VR headset when inventory management will be built into everything you own. Running low on milk? You may not remember, but your fridge does. Down to your last few laundry pods? They are already on the way.

The same will go for how we interact with entertainment. We can already look at overlays on TV that tell us where an actor or actress’ clothing comes from, but what if everything the same concept could be brought into the real world? Augmented reality will play an increasingly important role in the future, and the store front concept will eventually go the way of stone tablets.

Connected Humans

Prosthetics are already becoming more tech infused (thought turned to action), what is to say the world won’t move to a place where people willingly remove limbs for technologically advanced ones? Sure, this could be something straight out of a sci-fi flick, but there are no limits to what people will try, especially if it enhances the human body more than what is feasible. These prosthetics could allow a person to connect into all of the above concepts and more. Not having to even choose items to buy, you could simply think it and an item will be placed on your behalf. Crazy? Perhaps, but there world will be a different place in 10 years.

Where do you see technology in 10 years?

The year is 2027, and you’re driving a retail or ecommerce brand. What do you think will have changed? Take our poll or leave a comment with more details.

Elliot Volkman

Digital Marketing Manager

Elliot is Blue Acorn's Digital Marketing Manager. He hold a master's degree in communication from Gonzaga, and has several awards for journalism and digital marketing. In his spare time he is a long-distance runner and triathlete.

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