I recently watched “The Christmas Chronicles” on Netflix which was about a pair of siblings pulling an all-nighter to save Christmas. In this movie, like all other Santa Claus movies, St. Nick was able to deliver presents to the entire world of “good children” within a few hours. This article is not a movie review but watching the movie, it seems that reality does not veer far from fiction.
As the growing trend of e-commerce might suggest, more and more people are shopping online for gifts for every occasion. Online shops including Amazon, Ali Baba, Lazada, Shopee and even Facebook Marketplace are leading the reindeers’ charge. Some are even creating additional occasions like 11/11 or 12/12 to create reasons for buying. If you are the traditional gifter who prefers to put in the effort and traveling time to shop for gifts in retail stores and malls, this article might not be for you. For the rest of us, if you are curious how online gift shopping has transformed over the years, please read on.
1. E-Commerce Of Everything Everywhere
E-commerce has infiltrated every product since Amazon started selling books online in 1994. You can buy practically everything online including groceries, flowers, alcohol, durians and even meal delivery services. You can literally stay at home and survive the apocalypse. Additionally, you can buy anything from anywhere in the world. The consolidation of regional e-commerce platforms like Ali Baba, Taobao and Lazada has made it much easier for one to buy from platforms from around the world.
2. Just In Time (JIT) Logistics
If there is anything that is significantly improved over the last few years, it has to be supply chain and logistics including last mile delivery. The reliability of shipping has caught up and outperformed consumers’ expectations so much that some platforms exist just for this market of instant gratification. Some examples include Amazon Prime Now, Lalamove, GogoVan, Grab, Uber, Redmart, Honestbee etc. One inevitable consequence of JIT logistics is procrastination of buying gifts at the last minute. However, as academics has indicated good economics in procrastinating, they have also given us ‘JIT’ as an euphemism.
E-Commerce 1.0 represents the beginning of an era of convenience. Consumers are able to make online purchases and payments without stepping outside. Goods are delivered straight to the doorstep. E-Commerce 2.0 marked a significant milestone in data analytics powering an omniscient recommendation engine that predicts what the users want. Moreover, products are pre-shipped over to regional warehouses before you even made the purchase online. Over this journey of digital maturity, one might be curious what else is next or what is E-Commerce 3.0? Jeff Bezos once famously said “Focus on the things that don’t change“. One thing that will never change is the increasing demand for better customer experience.
E-Commerce 3.0 symbolizes an elevated shopping experience that transcends beyond just convenience and knowing what you want. E-Commerce 3.0 is about holistically making you feel good and knowing what you do not even know about yourself. Platforms like Amazon and Ali Baba have revived ‘brick and mortar’ retail stores in pursuit of this experience (Amazon Go). Others have done it by stratifying online memberships such as LiveUp from Lazada, Prime membership for Netflix catering to the needs of different user segments.
There are many other ways of characterizing E-Commerce 3.0 (see here for another version). But Santa’s helpers are not just getting faster and better. They know what you want even without you preparing your wish lists.