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  February 22nd, 2017 | Written by

Technology and the Future of Ecommerce

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  • Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly pervasive in the supply chain.
  • 3D printing will have a significant role in the customization of products.
  • Consumers are placing significant demands on ecommerce logistics providers.

Ti recently released the latest edition of its report, Global E-commerce Logistics 2017. The report provides industry analysis of the logistics behind ecommerce on a global basis, with regional breakdowns, cost analysis and market sizing data, as well as an analysis of the technological changes being visited upon the industry.

In the lead up to the report’s publication, Ti conducted an online poll asking respondents to select which technology they believe will have the greatest impact on ecommerce supply chains over the next five years. The results demonstrated a bullish attitude towards warehouse automation and artificial intelligence, which were selected by 32.6 percent and 28.3 percent of participants, respectively. The next most popular category was autonomous vehicles, with 17.4 percent of responses, followed by 3D printing with 15.2 percent.

Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly pervasive within various points in the supply chain, the study found, though as of yet, the technology is limited by the availability of data.     3D printing is unlikely to disrupt ecommerce, though it will have a significant role in the customization of products.

The remaining 6.5 percent of survey participants selected their own alternatives to the listed options, with blockchain technologies prominent in that category.

Among other trends identified in the report ecommerce retailers are becoming increasingly influential in ecommerce logistics. Amazon and Alibaba are maneuvering to establish themselves as players in the transportation of crossborder freight. Through further incremental actions, these companies will become increasingly influential.

“Though consumers may not be aware of the complexities involved in physically delivering ecommerce orders, they place significant demands upon logistics providers,” said Ti Analyst Alexander Le Roy. “It is an incredibly competitive sector.”

Le Roy added that this is causing a scramble for technological solutions in order to meet customer expectations. “Logistics is not well known for technology, and consumers are very perceptive of this,” he said. “The adoption of cloud computing and the proliferation of mobile devices are, together, now allowing logistics providers to provide much better visibility to ecommerce shipments, but this isn’t enough. People want as much delivery flexibility as possible, and to execute that in a cost-efficient manner, companies will increasingly turn towards artificial intelligence.”