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Seven in 10 digital commerce leaders (72%) believe that consumers of the future will prefer to shop online, with more than half (55%) saying they see little value in physical commerce. These beliefs are predicated on the fact that the next generations of shoppers will be digital natives — people born and raised with access to the internet, per a new report [download page] from Wunderman Thompson Commerce.

According to the digital commerce decision-makers surveyed, brand sites (19% share), retailers (18% share) and social media (awareness; 17% share) are the most important digital commerce channels in 2019. Close behind, respondents also name marketplaces (16%), social commerce (selling; 14%) and physical retail (13%) as the other most important current channels.

Looking ahead 10 years, these same decision-makers foresee a shift towards social commerce, with one-fifth (20% share) saying that it will be the most important channel in 2029. Beyond that, brand sites (19%), marketplaces (17%) and social media (awareness; 17%) will continue to hold importance, Retailers (12%) and physical retail (12%) are expected to lose importance over time, the former to a greater extent than the latter.

The future shift towards the importance of social commerce and other digital channels is due in part to the fact that the consumers of tomorrow will have only known a world that is digital. In a previous study, Wunderman Thompson found that while these current 6 to 16-year-olds, labelled Generation Alpha, are influenced to purchase most by their friends, social media influencers are a close second, even ahead of family members.

Matching those survey results against commerce leaders’ beliefs, the report indicates that although commerce leaders were correct when they assumed the role social media influencers play in the younger generation’s buying decisions, they did not put as much importance in the role that friends and family still play.

Commerce leaders are also askew when it comes to predicting how Generation Alpha believe they will shop in the future. While both sides agree that interfaces such as desktop, mobile and tablets will continue to be viable in the future, commerce leaders see the future filled with new technology like automated purchasing, brain computer interfacing and voice devices/assistance, while Gen Alpha still see more traditional interfaces like physical shopping being widely used in the future.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: The report is based on findings from interviews of 503 senior decision-makers (including C-suites) in digital commerce from the US and UK.

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