Technology has given today’s connected consumers unprecedented access to goods and services across the world. But what does the rise of e-commerce mean for companies, consumers and investors?
Who is the Connected Consumer?
Significant advancements in technology over the years have played out in favour of today’s consumer. Widespread availability of the internet means that today, consumers are in a better position to make more informed purchase decisions anywhere, anytime, on any platform. Businesses have also had to evolve to keep pace with consumer demand, and fintech is increasingly important for companies to improve how they interact with their customers. Keeping pace with technological advancements will enable firms to engage their customers more deeply in a digital economy.
What is the Digital Economy?
The rise of smartphones has given consumers across the world unprecedented access and choice when it comes to shopping. Digitally-savvy companies now offer a broader selection of goods, faster delivery, secure payments and 24/7 mobile access. E-commerce represents the part of this new digital economy that consumers are most familiar with today, and the internet retail market is expected to grow at an average rate of 14% per year over the next five years .
Ecommerce penetration is rising
Euromonitor International, Citibank “Technology at work v3.0”, August 2017
of retail transactions are done digitally today; a number only likely to rise2.
of consumers surveyed in 2018 plan to make purchases on mobile - versus 40% in 2017 – with mobile usage a likely driver of digital growth overall3.
of total retail sales by 2020 forecast to be accounted for by digital-native millennials, who are entering their peak spending years4.
What does this mean for investors?
Traditional businesses are reaching a critical juncture where they must adapt to the digital age or be disrupted by more digitally-savvy firms. Retailers are rapidly adapting to the needs of these connected consumers to make shopping quicker, easier and more personalised. We believe this represents a significant structural opportunity for investors seeking long-term growth. Digital-native millennials are also reaching their peak spending years, while older, wealthier generations are also increasingly connected and comfortable shopping online.
Investing in the digital economy
We see these trends as creating opportunities across the entire e-commerce value chain as traditional businesses embrace the digital economy. We refer to these opportunities as the four Ds:
- Discovery – companies that help people find products through search engines, or digital marketing platforms.
- Decision-making – e-commerce companies, web portals and mobile apps which provide consumers with convenient and reliable product choices.
- Delivery – companies creating fintech solutions to keep pace with consumers’ increasing expectations of simple payment processes, or using automation in order fulfilment for same-day delivery and returns.
- Data & Enablers – digital companies which help traditional businesses migrate to the digital world.
The digital economy: Why now?
The digital economy revolution is still in its early stages, and there is a growing number of new business segments emerging. For instance, the ‘Sharing Economy’ comprises high-profile companies, which are currently private, that will likely list in the coming years, expanding the investable universe and diversification opportunities.
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1 Citi GPS: Technology at Work v3.0, August 2017
2 Euromonitor International, Citibank ‘Technology at Work v3.0’, August 2017
3 Deloitte, 2018 holiday survey: retail in transition, November 2018
4 S&P via Forbes, April 2015
* Source: US Department of Commerce, latest data available as of March 2018
^ Source: Citi Research, Citi GPS “Technology at work v3.0”, August 2017
% Source: IFR World Robotics Report 2017, latest available data as of March 2018
& Source: Financier Worldwide, “Investing in the clean technology revolution”, January 2016
# Source: UN, correct as at March 2018