5-10 years is quite a while for anything in the technology and innovation industry and this article may seem exceptionally futuristic/science fiction. Some of these things might happen in the next 10 years, and some might be a little longer, but one thing is for sure, what we think we know about eCommerce will be changing rapidly.
Smaller and more number of distribution centers instead of large central warehouses
Since a bigger number of people will start utilizing e-commerce, it will become more efficient to have a larger number of little distribution centers for every few city blocks. These smaller warehouses will have those goods that are quick moving and perishable. Cold-storages will increase in these warehouses. The central and larger warehouses/fulfillment centers will be used only for rarely-ordered items, and for sorting and transporting to the smaller warehouses. Same-day delivery will become more basic and eventually, the expedited delivery will be hours not day(s).
Google+ hangouts meet Amazon Video-on-demand
Streaming a film or TV-show in your room doesn't have to be an activity that you do alone. You can do that while "hanging out" with your friends by video-conference. Either Google could integrate it's Google+ hangouts with Google Play Movies, or Amazon can introduce a hangouts like feature for their video-on-demand.
30 minute delivery through drones
Amazon is working on an automated 30-minutes delivery system that can bring you any product within 30 minutes of ordering.
3D scanning and printing
Right now, if I had to pick a field that I could invest in or found a startup in, it would be 3D printing. 3D printing is becoming cheaper, so we can expect more of such services. There are some relatively cheap 3D printers on Amazon right this moment.
Trying out clothes without actually trying them
Envision if Amazon had your portraits and measurements in detail. Amazon would have the capacity to give you a realistic picture of how you would look when you try-out those garments on so that you can pick the right size. (This will turn into a reality when processors get to be faster to do handle this rigorous image-processing on every click).
Highly personalized experience - your allergies will be considered before ordering food
You can integrate your e-commerce provider with your medical insurance provider to get a list of all known allergies. This will make sure you won't order any food that has something you are allergic to. This would work even while ordering food online. Would look something like:
"Our records indicate that you are allergic to peanuts. Your order has trace amounts of peanuts in it. Do you want to continue?"
Deep integration to devices and life
E-commerce will be deeply integrated into every device and gadget you have. You won't simply be shopping via the website from your computer or via an app on your mobile. Your refrigerator will be able to keep track of the quantity left in your milk, how much ketchup you have left, etc, and will order them when required from your e-commerce provider like Amazon Fresh. Sensors in your bathrooms will measure the amount of shampoo, toothpaste, soap, and you can set them to order automatically. Another cool thing would be built-in sensors, for example, shampoo bottles will have sensors in them, and will order refills consequently so you don't need to take time to log on and purchase.
Lockers like mailboxes for goods
Right now, one of the major inconveniences of ordering online is that you might miss the delivery of an item if you are not at home. I expect package lockers, that appears like our current mailboxes before every house on the block, that is electronically locked with a password or keyword and have a camera surveillance for security. You will have to grant access to one of the lockers (of an appropriate size depending on the size of your package) when you order something online. Your eCommerce website will know the size of your lockers because you would set them in your shipping section during your checkout process.
What do you think? What do you think will be a trend in 5, 10, even 20 years from now? Comment below.