The E-Commerce (R)evolution: New Business Models & Investing Opportunities

Insights into the novelty, fluidity, and proliferation of global e-commerce business models

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The emergence of e-commerce has reshaped the way we buy, sell, and transact with each other. These days, online shopping is an integral part of our life and a profitable alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar stores for many businesses. In a world of scarcer growth and fierce competition, we believe that the future belongs to companies that understand the potential of tech-driven solutions and successfully integrate them into their core business models.

With e-commerce penetration rates hovering only around the 20% range in leading markets such as the U.S. and China—and in the single digits across most developing markets—the numbers suggest that there is ample growth runway ahead.1 Therefore, we believe that the e-commerce revolution is only getting started and will remain a space with compelling long-term growth opportunities for investors. We have put together this report to illuminate some of the different approaches today’s leading platforms are utilizing to compete in their respective markets.

Figure showing an e-commerce business model heatmap

Key Highlights

  • While there already was a secular shift towards online shopping before the pandemic, we believe COVID-19 has accelerated and brought forward the adoption of e-commerce by consumers and businesses.
  • Investments in technology-driven solutions have helped innovative businesses create powerful moats in logistics and inventory management.
  • Hard to replicate competitive advantages have boosted profits and brought about new ways for disruptive companies to monetize on growing consumer trends.
  • The best business models are those, in our view, which provide a superior value proposition to their customers and key stakeholders.

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Important Disclosures
1 Source: E-Marketer, As of May 2021. 

This information is provided for illustrative purposes only. Opinions and views expressed constitute the judgment of Polen Capital as of October 2021 may involve a number of assumptions and estimates which are not guaranteed and are subject to change without notice or update. Although the information and any opinions or views given have been obtained from or based on sources believed to be reliable, no warranty or representation is made as to their correctness, completeness, or accuracy. Opinions, estimates, forecasts, and statements of financial market trends that are based on current market conditions constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice, including any forward-looking estimates or statements which are based on certain expectations and assumptions. The views and strategies described may not be suitable for all clients. This document does not identify all the risks (direct or indirect) or other considerations which might be material to you when entering any financial transaction.