Market Perspective: eCommerce Solutions for the Future
The first major company that started with eCommerce – CompuServe – was founded in 1969, i.e. more than 50 years ago. Since then, there have been a number of major milestones.
Milestones in eCommerce history
One of the milestones was in 1990 when the first web browser, called WorldWideWeb, was launched by Tim Berners-Lee. And in the mid-90s some of today’s industry giants - including eBay (under the name AuctionWeb) and Amazon - were founded. Still, not the least from a B2B point of view, the development continues and we will – most likely – see a lot of exciting solutions emerging in the next 5–10 years, also focusing on chemicals.
What is the definition of eCommerce?
Essentially, eCommerce (or electronic commerce) is the buying and selling of goods (or services) on the internet and the history of eCommerce was initially introduced more than 40 years ago in its earliest form. Since then, electronic commerce has helped countless businesses grow with the help of new technologies, improvements in internet connectivity, and widespread consumer and business adoption.From mobile shopping to online payment encryption and beyond, eCommerce encompasses a wide variety of data, systems and tools for both online buyers and sellers. Most businesses with an eCommerce presence use an eCommerce store and/or an eCommerce platform to conduct both online marketing and sales activities and to oversee logistics and fulfillment.
What about eCommerce in the chemical industry?
It took a comparatively long time until the chemical industry was ready to embrace eCommerce, primarily since the logistics complexity and safety requirements in the chemical industry are very different from e.g. selling books and consumer items online. These days, however, there are both solutions provided by chemical producers and marketplaces targeting several different categories, including chemicals.
What does the future of eCommerce solutions look like?
There are several, separate tracks currently being pursued and most of those tracks are industry agnostic, i.e. not developed for the chemical industry only. One such track is all about linking the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software which already exists both at the supplier end and in the buying organizations. Another track focuses on predictive analytics, i.e. the ability to forecast supply-and-demand shifts and translate it into knowledge about what kind of products and materials purchasers need, as well as when they need it. That some of the features which still do not exist everywhere in the chemical supply chain today – such as shipment tracking by GPS – very soon will be considered hygiene factors, most people have no doubts about.