On Wednesday Australia’s biggest retail thought leaders came together to discuss what’s in store for the future of e-commerce.

With online purchases growing more than 20 per cent last year alone, the big question at Online Retailer 2019 was – what’s next.

From ethical brands to contextual commerce, the industry’s game-changers are just around the corner for retailers, the audience heard.

Leading the panel at Online Retailer on Wednesday morning, Tony Nash, CEO of Booktopia told the audience that the most crucial move going forward is creating a seamless online experience for consumers.

“My important message for all of us today. And over the next couple of days and and this year is that just positioning yourself to be there for your customers as they choose to buy online,” he said.

Tapping into consumers values or creating a purposeful brands is what’s set to help retailers stand apart going forward, Julie Matthews, founder and CEO at Flora and Fauna told the audience.

“What do I mean by purposeful business? I mean, a business that is using its power to do good. It’s driven to to to drug it’s here to drive change. And it’s focused on things other than just revenue and margin. So exact I always like examples,” she said.

With 84 per cent of consumers wanting to shop with a brand with purpose and the value driven millennials set to lead the next generation of influential consumers, Matthews says tapping into ethical values is crucial to future-proof your brand.

“93% of people want to shop with brands that have a purpose beyond product. Now what is very important is next year in 2020 millennials overtake my generation Gen X’s to be the largest spending group, and in 2025 75% of the workforce will be made up by millennials so we can all purpose at your peril.

“If you love your customers focus on purpose, and that’s why it’s the game changer.”

Contextual commerce

Shane Lenton, CIO of CUE Clothing says it is contextual commerce which is set to transform the retail landscape – turning the industry on its head and potentially even killing off e-commerce.

“Contextual commerce is defined as the idea that we can seamlessly implement purchase opportunities into everyday activities, and natural environments. In other words, customers can buy anything anywhere, anytime with a click of a button, or even just a voice.”

From enabling a customer to make a purchase with smart speakers, Whatsapp, live chat or Messenger, contextual commerce is all about enabling a purchase to be made in the moment.

This process of doing away with the traditional check out will drive the future of retail, he says.

“When we talk about our mobile websites or apps, it’s doing away with a traditional checkout. It’s a product details page where the customer is in the moment, giving them the opportunity to use Apple Pay or Google Pay two clicks one thing to buy a second to complete the purchase, whether that’s facial recognition mission or two clicks.”

Disruptions to the industry have never been bigger than they are now, Lenton argued.

“Potentially, this alone is going to have a major impact and shift in the way we think about online retailing and country is particularly talk about millennials and Gen Z and the growth of some of these technologies.“