If you feel dizzy about the huge amount of discounts, offers and other occasions like Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Christmas, don't worry you are not the only one. This period of winter holidays has marked a point of non-return especially when it comes to the eCommerce business in our country. These results have been highlighted by the increase of demand that technological products have seen during the past Black Friday. This field saw a value increase of 39% compared to 2016. When considering the only eCommerce channel, this percentage rises up to 46.

Particularly striking are the numbers declared by Amazon Italy for the same Black Friday. The Jeff Bezos colossus has fielded over 15,000 offers and has sold in our country, two million products in 24 hours. Globally speaking Amazon declared that the orders made through the app rise over 50% and that the past Cyber Monday has been the highlight in terms of order amount. According to the Milan Polytechnic Observatories, e-commerce in Italy reached a turnover of € 23.6 billion this year, of which 12.2 for products and € 11.4 billion for services.
This continuous increase, compared to 2016, has been double-digit and specifically by 17%. The reason for this development must be seen in these numerous promotions and offers that the online market keeps on sharing.
The tourism, with a +7%, has always been at the top when it comes to buy online. But for the first time in 2017, products overcome services, with technological items demand rising up to 28% more compared to 2016. Analysts of the Milan Politecnico also turn the spotlight on the increase in the use of mobile app to make purchases. In particular, smartphone sales and purchases grew by 65% compared to last year, with a turnover of € 5.8 billion.

This is not it, we must also consider the results of Coldiretti according to whom 35% of Christmas purchases were made online. Still, we can't be compared to Great Britain or Germany where in this same period, the eCommerce reached 51% and 48%.

This is not the end for the shop

In this environment where the online world and the real one are trying to sharing space, it's not getting easy for those shop managers that are still sceptic about the potentialities that the web can offer today and in the near future. As a direct consequence of this behaviour, we see merchants struggling to keep up with the innovation.
A critical example of this situation is the recent bankrupt declaration that Toys-R-Us, the greatest American toys retailer, made due to a 400 million dollars debt. Once again, the reason for this situation needs to be found on Amazon, that has completely overstepped any expectation.
That said we are far from what someone called 'retail apocalypse'.
In fact, there is a partial inversion of tendency, in which even those who work mainly online aims to open physical stores, while those who start from a real store also seem to have a better chance of obtaining good results with a serious approach to e-commerce. In this context even Amazon, Apple and Google invest significant amounts to build their representative stores around the world, and big fashion Brands renew their boutiques in order to sell and make marketing on all channels that technology can offer. An approach that starts from the standardization of prices between products sold online and those present in physical stores, from a logic based on data management to profile customers and an increased focus on the App.

What is happening, in reality, is the contrast between different ways of managing relationships with customers according to a traditional or innovative logic, rather than between online and physical store. Users, especially millennials, are hungry for original and more engaging methods to choose products, payment methods and at the same time live differently the spaces where they make purchases.

The year of the virtual assistance

According to analysts, 2018 will see this approach consolidated, as will the smartphone's dominance as the main tool to make online purchases. The simplicity of consultation and payment makes the old computer increasingly less appreciated for shopping. In particular, digital assistants will become more pervasive. Despite the fact that even in the Anglo-Saxon countries there are still a good 50% of sceptics who refuse to use them, the new generations prefer them as interlocutors instead of a human interaction. A trend that is expected to globally explode right from 2018 and according to an Ovum research the virtual assistants will be over 7.5 billion in 2021. An impressive growth, even if, in Italy, this path will probably be less pronounced.

More bot than people

Who has the control over this online price fluctuation? It is not always easy to understand how this system works, why there are small price increases on products we just put in the cart. Or those sudden discounts, at special time of the year or close to specific occurrences, which see a price alignment among different e-commerce.
Bots are now pulling the marionette wires, analyzing demand, spying on competition and evaluating our navigation parameters in order to decide when and how to stimulate the interest of potential buyers.
It is the bot itself that is able to trade, buy and sell goods according to price convenience. Algorithms capable of heavily influencing the market.
The battle among these software, which have long invaded the network, will be played also in the new year.