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Digital Business: 2017

Tech & biz06 April 2017

By Ahda Arifa Ismail & Olivia Lautner

Digital Business: 2017

Twenty years ago when the world wide web was first introduced, who would have thought that the digital realm could rule and change our society forever?

Online shopping first surfaced in 1979, when Michael Aldrich discovered and introduced telemarketing. He connected a modified domestic television via a telephone line to a real-time multi-user transaction processing computer and started selling business-to-business systems. More than a decade later in 1991, Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web (WWW), which we know now as the internet. Technology leapt forward and from it sprung forth a slew of search engines, websites and applications. The digital revolution irrevocably changed the lives of millions worldwide. We have come a long way from 1979, so what do we got in 2017?

Everything that is mine can now be yours.

Where online retail was previously dominated by multinational companies or serious retail businesses that have the resources to develop an online commerce site, the increasing penetration of mobile networks and affordability of mobile phones have opened up new windows for everybody.

Where normal users were once restricted to only being buyers, anyone with a smartphone can now become a seller too. With the latest technology, one can snap a picture, put a title and a price, and sell any possession—whether it is a dress that is one size too small, the living room couch, our old guitar, or even the family car. Anything you own can be listed online for sale in a matter of seconds.

The future is about to get more personal.

Amongst the dizzying number of retail options available, retail companies are working hard to bring items you are most likely to buy to the forefront of your shopping experience. Curated commerce will come with understanding your buying behavior, recognizing your location and device, and using this knowledge to recommend items that you want to buy. Online commerce personalization means giving you options to join community groups where you can meet and deal with others who share similar interests and hobbies with you.

When less becomes more.

The next gold rush for online shopping is set to take place in Southeast Asia, the fastest growing region with e-commerce revenues expected to exceed US$25 billion by 2020. Of that pie, Indonesia is expected to become the largest e-commerce player. As youths are leapfrogging the desktop era to jump straight into mobile marketplaces, online sales could reach 7 to 8 percent of the total retail market by 2020 from about 1 percent currently.

The boom of online shopping and retail options have led to a proliferation of things we don’t truly need. In 2015, Indonesians produced on average 0.7 kg of waste per person per day, which adds up to about 64 million tons of waste for the entire population per year. Many of the things thrown away are as good as new, and can still be useful to another person.

One way to counter the relentless manufacturing churn of brand new goods is to give a longer lease of life to pre-loved goods. Pre-loved does not mean wastes. Carousell has spotted the trend amongst celebrities and public figures to sell their once-loved items. This trend evokes the need to browse luxury items and branded fashion items, sometimes limited edition products which the stores have run out of, with an exceptional bargain price. Whether it's de-cluttering for more time and space in our lives, or connecting and sharing stories with others through items we love, buying and selling pre-loved is how less will lead to more in 2017.