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This week's top 5 cultural insights and e-commerce trends: 14 June 2019

Business · 4 min read

AOB: 14 June 2019

How much is the European e-commerce market worth? What's VISA's new B2B platform? And is vertical farming about to come into season? Get the answers to these questions, and more, with this week's AOB.

E-commerce in Europe worth €621bn in 2019

The newly released European Ecommerce Report 2019 has revealed that European B2C e-commerce turnover is forecasted to grow at around 13% – hitting €621bn by the end of the year. Most of this (66%) is concentrated in Western Europe, but a significant portion is spread around the rest of the continent. The research makes some interesting findings: Portuguese consumers are most concerned about payment security concerns; Kosovan shoppers are the least likely to buy online; and Maltese buyers are most likely to import from continental sellers.

In the report, Madeleine af Ugglas, Marketing Director, EMEA North, SAP Customer Experience, also had two observations: “...voice shopping is expected to increase twenty-fold by 2022, so it is already gaining a preponderant place in the customer journey. Connected to this, mobile commerce is expected to take nearly half of all e-commerce sales over the next two years or so.” So, with that in mind, it might be time to brush up on your m-commerce knowledge – and our Mobile Commerce 101 guide is the perfect place to start.

VISA debuts VISA B2B Connect in more than 30 markets

Taking on a global payments market worth an estimated US$200tn annually – according to research by the Juniper Group – VISA has finally launched its B2B Connect platform, which was first teased at Singapore FinTech Festival in 2017.

Enabling bank-to-bank, cross-border payments between businesses, it's designed to operate as a transparent network – providing visibility into not only where funds are along their journey, but how much it will cost for those funds to reach their destination. It's an important component of the VISA B2B Connect platform, as Kevin Phalen, Head of Global Business Solutions, said: “Our first goal was to make sure that VISA B2B Connect would move money around the world quickly. Then, we wanted to make sure that there would be full traceability and visibility for those payments on a global basis.” Are you properly prepared when it comes to payments? Cross-check your processes with our Payment Systems 101 guide.

Vertical farming is on the up

British online supermarket Ocado is ploughing £17m into vertical farming initiatives, with the aim of bringing its growers closer to its distribution centers. Purchasing a 58% share in vertical farming specialists Jones Food, the investment also includes the formation of a new joint venture. Named Infinite Acres, it sees them team up with US-based vertical farming business 80 Acres, and Netherlands-based horticultural technology provider Priva, on a four-year project to develop vertical farming systems that can be sold to retail and other businesses off the shelf. 

Duncan Tatton-Brown, Finance Director of Ocado, said the group could open “ least 10 more similar farms within five years,” and that the two companies were now considering how Ocado’s expertise in robotics and AI could be used to make Jones Food more efficient. For more information on how to use AI to your advantage, click here.

How a Sri Lankan spirit became the toast of the table

From being too 'low class' to be taken seriously as a premium alcohol in its homeland, to surviving heavy taxes and a ban on advertising, Sri Lankan arrack is now gaining global recognition – and the producers have no plans on stopping. With only two ingredients needed to make the spirit, it's definitely effective entrepreneurship – and a great example of how to turn a local delicacy into a global brand.

By repackaging a product that's widespread locally, Rockland distilleries have found a new way to engage an international market – which, if you're offering something no one else can, is definitely worth considering. Described by the late food critic Anthony Bourdain as "...a marriage of bourbon and rum, but with a stronger, burning kick and a mysterious bouquet," Rockland now sells more Ceylon Arrack to British buyers than Sri Lankans. Also available in Singapore, Germany and Japan, with plans to launch it in India later this year – watch out for growth from the traditional tipple.

Facebook's cryptocurrency goes public

On June 18, a white paper revealing the hotly anticipated Facebook cryptocurrency Libra is due to be released to the world. Speculation is rife as to what the paper will tell us, but it could unlock a new era of e-commerce and payments for Facebook, and its other ventures, so it could be time to ramp up your social selling capabilities. Talk is that it will be pegged to multiple currencies, rather than one, and that there's potential it could be used to offer low – or no-fee – payments between friends and families, so we'll await the announcement with bated breath.

We do know that Libra will be a token currency, designed to have a stable price to prevent discrepancies and complications – and that it will be transferrable, with zero fees, via Facebook products including Messenger and WhatsApp. And whether it's released this year or next, it's bound to have huge implications for online transactions.

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