The effects of e-commerce on the economy, specifically within the retail market, have remained little more than speculation for the past few years. Most theories on the future of e-commerce sit somewhere between a trend which will eventually pass and a period of the "retail apocalypse" which signifies an end for legacy retailers.
The physical retail marketplace continually changes due to its susceptibility to multiple variables such as consumer preferences and the automation movement. The initial emerging narrative spelled doom for legacy physical retailers and constructed a future in which e-commerce dominates the retail marketplace. However, new studies and data suggests retailers who have learned to adapt to market trends will persist as consumers find a middle ground between e-commerce and physical retail options.
Near the beginning of its rise to prominence, e-commerce was seen as an "all or nothing" endeavor. Businesses were either entirely committed to a physical, retail presence or built their business around e-commerce. But as the platform has evolved, many businesses have achieved synergy by molding e-commerce to fit their existing business models in order to match the needs of their customers.
Dirxion customer Ulta Beauty's mobile traffic to their website increased by 104 percent with their total traffic increasing by 74 percent, according to FierceRetail. The increase is in part due to Ulta's investments in online advertising and paid promotion programs through social media platforms.
Earlier this month, Amazon revealed their Amazon Business marketplace passed the one million customer mark since its launch in April of 2015. According to the official website, "Amazon Business provides purchasing solutions that let registered businesses and their designated users shop for business supplies on Amazon. People who have a business user account can purchase on Amazon.com on behalf of their employer."
The United States Commerce Department recently announced U.S. e-commerce retail had grown by 16.3 percent during the second quarter, as reported by Digital Commerce 360. According to YCharts, a financial data research platform, e-commerce has grown within the United States as a share of total retail sales at a steady rate since the data was first recorded in 1999.
In recent quarters, Walmart reported slowed growth for their e-commerce department. According to Business Insider, the legacy retailer went from 16 percent growth in the second quarter of last year to single digit growth for two straight quarters. Despite rebounding this quarter and online sales growing by 60 percent, according to Forbes, Walmart is looking for new ways to compete within the e-commerce market, especially considering new tech giants have begun crossing international boundaries and increased competition.
Facebook recently announced their new initiative to combat misinformation and false online advertising practices. Many online advertisers used "cloaking" procedures that would fool Facebook's filters and algorithms and circumvent the review process. Typically when a business advertises with the social media platform, Facebook looks at the ad that the business wants to display, as well as the landing page that an ad click leads a user to. This is to ensure that the content of the ad and the landing page a user is sent to are related and not misleading.
As the world becomes increasingly digitized and more personal information gets stored online, Americans have become more informed about cyber security risks. As concluded through various studies conducted by the PEW Research Center, Americans as a whole have become more skeptical of institutions holding their information and how secure it is. However, as security measures have increased over time, Americans have also had a harder time maneuvering through the complexities of modern cyber security.
It was recently reported that in rural areas, 35 percent of Americans do not have access to the Internet (about 25 million Americans), according to CBS News. This is far greater than the 3 percent of citizens living in urban areas who don't have Internet access. This gap remains in spite of federal courts declaring that Internet service is a utility similar to electricity and water.