The Future of E-Commerce

Invisible shopping carts. Annoyance-free assistance. No lines at the register. All these, and many more benefits await consumers of the near future thanks to the technological advancements and the evolution of e-commerce.

Today, e-commerce is still in its infancy. While browsers make it easy to find places to shop, finiding exactly what you need may be a little more difficult. Shoppers are still hesistant to give out personal information over the Internet because they fear that the information may be misused. However, these inconveniences and fears haven’t held back the fast-growing market of Internet consumers who purchase billions of dollars of merchandise each year. Each day, more and more people buy their first good online, joining the millions that have purchased before them.

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The future looks bright for consumers and e-businesses alike. Shoppers will easily be able to find exactly what they are looking to purchase, or even get ideas on what someone else might like. This is possible through a new technology used in advertising, called narrowcasting. Narrowcasting is a form of collaborative technology in which a user inputs preferences and a server sends back results based on all the inputs the server has received up to that point. Here’s a simple example of how this technology will work. If a consumer is looking for somewhere to go on vacation, they typically determine where they want to go by making calls to the various places, or visiting several different websites. New narrowcasting technology at a travel agency website will ask the shopper for some personal information (i.e. do you like the outdoors?, how much do you wish to spend?, what is your age?) and then produce a list of possible destinations with package pricing. The consumer can choose from a variety of options that will make their choice unique to their own preferences, individualizing the vacation just for them. This technology will not only be faster, but can potentially be cheaper since the businesses (the travel agency and vacation destinations) will be able to save money on advertising and marketing practices.

Besides narrowcasting, other improvements will shape e-commerce. New quantum processors will allow computers to move twice as fast, and HDTV’s popularity will let people surf and shop on their television sets. Being able to shop over the television is every businesses dream because people can buy what they see when they see it. Businesses won’t have to worry about people forgetting their name or not wanting to go to the store. A benefit for the consumer will be advanaces in security and privacy. Stealing credit cards numbers will be virtually impossible for hackers and merchants alike thanks to encryption programs that will disguise user's numbers. There will also be better supervision of the Internet, making sure companies that cheat customers will be held responsible or face criminal charges.

Whether or not someone will ever be able to buy a flying car over the Internet is unknown. But if they can, they’ll be able to find the exact model, at a fair price and with confidence that their information will be secure. The technology used for e-commerce is young, but it's expanding faster than any before it and will soon be the most advanced system the world has ever seen.