Few, if any, consumer-oriented businesses have not been touched by the explosive growth of e-commerce – the web-based technology platforms that embrace and harness the transformative power enabled by the smartphone’s size (small form factor) and connectivity (ubiquitous internet access) to empower mobile-equipped digital natives to shop online to their heart’s content. 

Today’s digital consumers can now browse through the cloud and choose from a massive, previously undreamed-of range of products and services to buy whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want, from wherever they happen to be! During recent years, this e-commerce frenzy has emerged as one of the key driving forces and a critical element of what has become known as the Omni-Channel.  

Spawning global giants such as Amazon and Alibaba, the digital revolution of e-commerce is transforming the way in which consumers shop – and changing their expectations of service, choice and value. This e-commerce frenzy has been driven by near-universal access to the internet, the availability of affordable smart phones, iPads and similar mobile devices and, not least, by the burgeoning young populations in developing economies engendering a new generation of digital-native consumers who are determined to ‘shop online till they drop offline’.  

According to eMarketer, the global Business to Consumer (B2C) e-commerce market will reach over USD 2 trillion of revenue this year – with the Asia region representing 56% of the total – and grow a further 50% to over USD 3 trillion in 2018, by which time China will generate more than half the world’s total online shopping revenue.

In turn this new omni-channel retail model – combining online e-commerce and offline stores – impacts every aspect of a supply chain ecosystem: products, inventory, warehouses, fulfilment, picking, packing, shipping, transport, distribution and the all-important information flows. 

The e-commerce-enabled upsurge in online shopping is transforming B2C trade at every level, presenting logistics practitioners and supply chain ecosystems with a vast number of challenges and opportunities that have fundamental implications for every aspect of a company’s business model, their profitability – and even their future.   

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