How has COVID-19 changed customer expectations in e-commerce?

The pandemic has definitely changed e-commerce. Record sales increases by both sellers and courier companies were very common. However, changes in customer expectations which may turn out to be less spectacular, may become much more important in the long run.

There is general agreement that the pandemic did not generate any new e-commerce trends, but it has resulted in the further development of some phenomena. The second factor shaping the market and social debate were the increasingly alarming reports on the possible and imminent climate disaster.

4 mega trends in global e-commerce

Both the pandemic and the vision of a climate catastrophe brought about the rapid acceleration and intensification of four major trends in e-commerce:

  1. Moving business to the Internet. The pandemic, and especially the related lockdowns, have led to a massive shift of business to the Internet. Companies and customers met online because other possibilities were temporarily restricted. A great number of people do much more online shopping. According to experts, the revenues made during the pandemic will translate into the growth of the Polish e-commerce market: in the coming years it will grow at a rate of 12% per annum. The same is expected to happen all over the world as e-commerce is de facto a global market.
  2. Expanding ecological awareness. In recent years more and more forecasts have focused on a climate catastrophe, i.e. the depletion of drinking water and fossil fuel resources. Even the greatest skeptics have to admit that a shift in thinking about the need to protect the environment has happened at an extraordinary pace. Its impact on e-commerce is a growing number of customers paying attention to the method of delivering parcels and packaging goods. Ten years ago, they were mainly focused on timely and cheap delivery. Today, when free overnight deliveries and free returns are standard, there are more and more customers for whom not only the contents of the parcel are important, but also the way it is packaged. Ecological awareness also means the optimal amount of fillers and size of the cardboard box for the ordered goods, as well as what you use for packaging.
  3. The shift of e-commerce growth to emerging markets. You can observe the increase in e-commerce purchases in emerging markets. Due to easy access to high-speed Internet and online banking, which has been efficiently supporting e-commerce in highly developed countries for years, the level of online shopping in these countries has remained at a very high level. However, the structure of target groups has changed: older generations have started shopping online, while young people can hardly function in the world without the possibility of using e-commerce, so more and more orders are carried out on smartphones and other mobile devices.
  4. The strategic impact of artificial intelligence. It is difficult nowadays to imagine the promotion of goods and efficient sales without advanced automation of the marketing and purchasing processes. Artificial intelligence is starting to play a strategic role: learning algorithms and whole systems (machine learning) follow our online activities: likes, purchases, comments, websites visited. Virtual machines, capable of analysing huge amounts of data (Big Data), capture from them such information which allows the creation of very precise customer profiles. Machines often know more about us than we do ourselves. They anticipate our needs and suggest products or services to meet them. They close us in information bubbles and bombard us with incentives to buy more and more new goods. Soon, conducting effective sales will not be possible without using artificial intelligence. The pandemic has rapidly accelerated digitisation on a global scale: new equipment, new applications and, above all, new habits (widespread online shopping) will set the direction for the development of e-commerce in the coming years.

How to use the power of packing planning algorithms?

The trends in e-commerce described, including, in particular, gigantic increases in sales, translate into the need to efficiently handle huge volumes of orders. In order to meet the enormous demand, it is necessary to effectively optimize the processes of warehousing, packing and transporting goods. In these three areas, the packing planning algorithms we have created are very useful – fast, reliable and easy-to-use applications.

The algorithms we provide can easily handle the optimal use of space in a single cardboard box as well as in a lorry trailer or container for sea transport. They can also be used to easily plan how to fill the space in a warehouse. By using 3DBinPacking algorithms, you may speed up the packing process, avoid transporting air, and reduce the consumption of fillers and packaging. In other words: you save on transport and reduce the negative impact of your activities on the environment. All together, it fits in with the four biggest trends in e-commerce. The way you understand these trends and how you plan to use them for your benefits may shape the future of your business, even this year.