The ubiquity of smartphones has accelerated the evolution of e-commerce and social commerce. More brands are keen to adopt an ‘always on’ approach and try to facilitate seamless online purchases at every opportunity, directly connecting marketing communications with the opportunity to purchase.


E-commerce describes the trading of goods and services online. Social commerce describes online retail which uses social networks or peer to peer communication to drive sales.

Key insights

1. E-commerce is growing rapidly

According to Edge (formerly Planet Retail), e-commerce will account for 29% of global retail chains by 2022, and drive 53% of the growth. They forecast that Alibaba - the Asia-based, online platform – will become the biggest retailer in the world. The brand is opening its first European hub after forming a partnership with the Belgium government in December 2018. E-commerce overall is growing from many sources, through direct to consumer brands and more traditional brands response in building online sales, through new capabilities for purchase direct from social networks and influencers, and online retail giants such as Alibaba and Amazon.