Google Exec Says E-Commerce Headed for Radical Changes

SAN FRANCISCO — E-commerce is headed for a radical change.

According to a Computerworld report on this week's Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, Google vice president and former PayPal executive Osama Bedier said that shopping online will be more like visiting a local store 50 years ago.

The executive pointed to three major factors that will influence the retail space: mobile devices, local focus and personal customer service.

"We're about to see some major change in this space. This is not about any one app. It's not about any one site. It's not about any one company. It's about us working together to overcome challenges."

According to Bedier, the continued surge in mobile in the tech and mainstream markets including the adoption of tablets will continue to change the face of e-commerce. He said sales of sales of mobile devices outpaced sales of PCs in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Geographic opportunity will also play a larger part in onine sales. Using the local discount platform Groupon as an example, Bedier said that companies will focus more on delivering neighborhood deals and incentives.

He added that new social smartphone apps like Color — that allows users to share photos with others near them —  will bolster the local appeal of e-commerce.

Although not a revelation, better customer service with an emphasis on the personalized shopping experience will also change the e-commerce landscape.

"I walked into a store and the owner greeted me by name. It made me feel good. He tells me my dad's favorite bread is on sale. I asked for Spanish olives and he doesn't have them but he says the store down the street has them or he'll get a shipment Friday and he'll deliver them to me," said Bedier.

He said that’s the kind of experience online buyers should also experience. 

"If I've decided to share my identity and location, the [online store will] greet me by name and tell me that my favorites are on sale. Or it will point out ingredients for that recipe I liked on Epicurean. If they're out of an item, they'll tell me where I can get it or when they can deliver it to me," Bedier said.