The End of Online shopping in 2020
Summary of Wijnand Jongen’s keynote presentation at Global Ecommerce Summit 2015

We are living in exciting times! The changes that we are experiencing in our society today are moving at a pace that has never been seen before. I think that is pretty darn exciting. I am not sure about you, but on my travels all over the world, when I talk to entrepreneurs, ranging from start-ups to CEO’s, when talking to governments, policy makers, you can feel, experience the shared excitement of change that is happening all around us. All over the world people are welcoming the impact of new digital technologies in our daily lives: they are changing the world of retailing as much as they are changing our society.

All around the globe we see that governments, policy makers and business are responding to the need to facilitate change for the old economic order to a new economic reality. The European Commission has set out a Digital Agenda. It wants to establish an internal market where consumers can buy cross-border: safely and without hassle. Tuesday, Ecommerce Europe held its Annual Conference in Barcelona, with the theme: “Where Policy Meets Business,” to discuss the great barriers for doing cross-border e-commerce.

So what does this society in transformation mean for the world of retail and for the world of e-commerce? The big question I am asking myself is now if and when we will come to the end of online shopping? And my answer is yes, we will, as all shopping will be dominated by online. What we see; is a new economic reality where digital technology is dominant for all shopping. Hence this will be the end of online shopping as all shopping will be online, no matter where and how you shop: at home, at work, in the train, in the high street or online in the store.
I see 6 new types of economy emerging, that together will form this new economic reality.

1. Blurring Economy
In the blurring economy we see that old and new business models are being mixed beyond any traditional retail structure.
Traditional retailers think that retail is all about selling products. That e-commerce is all about selling products online. That there is a clear distinction between B2C and B2B. But all of this is no longer true. All these clear distinctions in retail are fading. We know that supermarkets have been selling “non-food” for many years. We have seen Amazon develop from a bookstore into the “Everything Store.” But now I see insurance companies selling products, department stores selling insurance policies and wills, aircraft companies selling package tour holidays.
Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram will prove to be a social media companies that happen to become a retailers as well. They all just added buy buttons on their social media platforms, Instagram did it last week.
The next decades we will see these big companies grow further. Unless or until they lose touch with the new economic reality or because they are not disrupting their own business model. Disrupting your own business model is key in the blurring economy.

2. Smart Economy
Secondly, our economy is becoming a smart economy, where Big Data is just beginning to connect companies, objects and people in what we call the Internet of Things. Big IT companies are preparing themselves for what they call the Industrial Internet, (General Electric), A Smarter Planet (IBM) and, The Internet of Everything (Cisco). Countries are preparing themselves for the rise of smart industries. Germany f.e. has set significant funds aside for what they call “Industry 4.0”.
Whether it is cars, fashion, consumer electronic: we are no longer looking for products…we are searching for solutions.
We are entering into an era where smart objects, smart factories will help us become more productive and more efficient. With the help of digital technologies, we will have more time available for the things that really matter.
3. Sharing Economy
Thirdly, we are entering a world of that is called the sharing economy. According to sharing economy guru Rachel Botsmann the sharing economy is less about possession and more about access to or experiencing. But let’s make no mistake: this sharing economy, or peer-2-peer economy is not only about sharing. It is about people sharing, distributing, lending, using, re-using and exchanging products and services. Sometimes for free, sometimes for reciprocal products and services and more and more for money.
The Internet of Things is the technical soul mate of the sharing economy or better perhaps, of the collaborative economy: it makes it possible for us to be connected in networks, platforms and communities.
For retailing, the impact of the sharing economy will be highly significant in the future. Consumers are becoming co-creating prosumers. The sharing economy types of businesses are able to produce at almost zero marginal cost.
4. Circular economy
Fourth, and closely linked to the sharing economy, is the fact that we are working towards a circular economy where we, people, consumers and our customers are realizing that we live in a world where we have only a limited amount of raw materials. With the help of Big Data and the Internet of Things will know exactly how a T-shirt was produced, where and how my new pair of shoes were made.
It is the observation of the American best selling author Jeremy Rifin that the circular economy will thrive on an internet connected world, based on 3 pillars: communication, energy and logistics.
For all that matters, the circular economy is helping us creating a more sustainable and greener world.

5. Glocal economy
Finally I see the economy changing into a glocal economy.
In this glocal economy I see that the old and new e-commerce giants will become bigger and bigger. They will truly act globally.
But at the same time there are chances and opportunities for small national, regional and local companies to become niche players and act locally. Check out, Amsterdam based,, where collaborating shop owners in 9 small streets in historic Amsterdam have joined forces in a truly glocal online shopping experience. For smaller companies this provides the chance to be what the larger ones are unable to provide: being authentic, artisan, and with a personal, human touch. If your ambition is not to become a new Amazon, Zalando, Rakuten or Google, this might be a chance and an opportunity.
6. Learning economy
Finally is see a learning economy arise, where it is crucial that our businesses become learning organizations. Innovation and creativity are the driving factors of change. We need to empower the people in our companies, give them the freedom to innovate, to be creative, to try… and most importantly…allow them to fail. What we need is a ‘just-do-it-‘ mentality in our companies. Retailing is not just about putting smiles on the faces of our customers. It is also about putting smiles on the face of our employees, on the faces of people that really matter and make things work for us.
We need to make our people better, create an e-learning infrastructure where we can learn and grow. Digital technology, the Internet, online, is no more, no less than the facilitator that helps connect companies and people. I have a strong belief that this will ultimately create a world for all of us that is more inclusive, more equal, more sustainable, and greener.
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Wijnand Jongen is Directeur and Chairman of the Executive Commitee of Ecommerce Europe