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Investing in the Impending E-commerce Future

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Investing in the Impending E-commerce Future

The rise of e-commerce has been a long time coming, but the market’s progressive size and impact has caught many by surprise.

Tied initially to the advent of the internet and the Dot-com boom, online shopping saw companies like Amazon and eBay become well-known billion-dollar names. Digital commerce was a big market, but only for a few players.

Fast forward to today, and more companies than ever are launching their own marketplaces or embracing online retail. The shift was happening before COVID-19, but the pandemic has sped things up dramatically.

Today’s infographic from eToro highlights the increasing relevance of e-commerce in the modern economy and how investors can enter the market.

The Digital Marketplace Footprint

How big is modern e-commerce? While multiple sectors are experiencing their own online revolutions, retail is leading the way.

Total global retail e-commerce sales already numbered $3 trillion in 2018, and are expected to more than double to $6.5 trillion in 2023.

The increasing ease and security of online payments have encouraged many businesses to embrace B2C sales, especially in light of a pandemic that forced many brick and mortar stores to close. But less documented is the boom of digital marketplaces, which accounted for 57% of global online retail sales in 2019.

The biggest marketplaces are well-known leaders like Amazon and China’s Taobao and Tmall, but more and more companies are capturing a slice of the online distribution market.

Largest U.S. MarketplacesGross Merchandise Value
Amazon$339B
Ebay$90B
Walmart$49B
Wish$10B
Houzz$9B

Source: DigitalCommerce360

Walmart and Best Buy have both launched marketplaces for third-party product sales, with Walmart recently seeing a 79% increase of e-commerce sales alone.

The E-commerce Transformation

The growth of e-commerce in retail by itself is staggering, but its growing availability in other sectors is the bigger story.

Groceries and restaurants are a key marker, with home-delivery of takeout, groceries, and ready-to-prepare meal-kits all ordered digitally. Companies like Doordash, Just Eat, and Uber Eats have experienced massive growth, with Doordash positioning for a 2020 IPO, while grocery retailers including Walmart and Safeway are embracing delivery sales.

Online services are likewise rising in popularity, including everything from streaming services to virtual meetings, healthcare and assistance. Just as with the retail sector, e-commerce is making its way into sectors previously thought to be “un-digitizable.”

That type of transformation is usually slow, but the result of COVID-19 restrictions forcing thousands of businesses to go digital sped up the schedule. U.S. e-commerce penetration experienced 10 years of growth in the first quarter of 2020 alone.

YearU.S. E-commerce Penetration
201611.8%
201713.2%
201814.4%
201916.0%
2020 (Q1)33.0%

Source: McKinsey

A Widening Landscape for Future Growth

It might be hard to believe, but even with the headway made by e-commerce over the past year, the industry is slated for massive future growth.

One big reason is the rising demand for digital goods and services. As the global pandemic has reimagined virtual business, many companies have also come face-to-face with the decreased costs of operating remotely, while retailers are seeing higher margins by cutting out the distributor (or the lease).

At the same time, another massive shift is the increase in technological capabilities. Alongside the rollout of 5G, blockchain, and improved AI, companies are looking for tech to streamline their processes and keep customers online where possible.

That includes the use of drones for delivery by Amazon, augmented and virtual reality for product testing by Ikea and Wayfair, and improved payment platforms by Shopify.

While 100% online shopping is still a ways away from becoming a reality, the wave of e-commerce is set to continue rising.

How can investors take part?

eToro’s ShoppingCart CopyPortfolio* gives investors direct access to the e-commerce ecosystem.

Curated by experienced and proven investment teams, the thematic portfolio offers exposure to a broad range of online retailers and shopping stocks, with no management fees.

*Your capital is at risk.
CopyPortfolios is a portfolio management product, provided by eToro Europe Ltd., which is authorised and regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission.

CopyPortfolios should not be considered as exchange traded funds, nor as hedge funds.

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More Than Precious: Silver’s Role in the New Energy Era (Part 3 of 3)

Long known as a precious metal, silver in solar and EV technologies will redefine its role and importance to a greener economy.

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Silver More Than Precious

Silver’s Role in the New Energy Era (Part 3 of 3)

Silver is one of the first metals that humans discovered and used. Its extensive use throughout history has linked its name to its monetary value. However, as we have advanced technologically, so have our uses for silver. In the future, silver will see a surge in demand from solar and electric vehicle (EV) technologies.

Part 1 and Part 2 of the Silver Series showcased its monetary legacy as a safe haven asset as a precious metal and why now is its time to shine.

Part 3 of the Silver Series comes to us from Endeavour Silver, and it outlines silver’s role in the new energy era and how it is more than just a precious metal.

A Sterling Reputation: Silver’s History in Technologies

Silver along with gold, copper, lead and iron, was one of the first metals known to humankind. Archaeologists have uncovered silver coins and objects dating from before 4,000 BC in Greece and Turkey. Since then, governments and jewelers embraced its properties to mint currency and craft jewelry.

This historical association between silver and money is recorded across multiple languages. The word silver itself comes from the Anglo-Saxon language, seolfor, which itself comes from ancient Germanic silabar.

Silver’s chemical symbol, “Ag”, is an abbreviation of the Latin word for silver, argentum. The Latin word originates from argunas, a Sanskrit word which means shining. The French use argent as the word for money and silver. Romans bankers and silver traders carried the name argentarius.

While silver’s monetary meanings still stand today, there have been hints of its use beyond money throughout history. For centuries, many cultures used silver containers and wares to store wine, water, and food to prevent spoilage.

During bouts of bubonic plague in Europe, children of wealthy families sucked on silver spoons to preserve their health, which gave birth to the phrase “born with a silver spoon in your mouth.”

Medieval doctors invented silver nitrate used to treat ulcers and burns, a practice that continues to this day. In the 1900s, silver found further application in healthcare. Doctors used to administer eye drops containing silver to newborns in the United States. During World War I, combat medics, doctors, and nurses would apply silver sutures to cover deep wounds.

Silver’s shimmer also made an important material in photography up until the 1970s. Silver’s reflectivity of light made it popular in mirror and building windows.

Now, a new era is rediscovering silver’s properties for the next generation of technology, making the metal more than precious.

Silver in the New Energy Era: Solar and EVs

Silver’s shimmering qualities foreshadowed its use in renewable technologies. Among all metals, silver has the highest electrical conductivity, making it an ideal metal for use in solar cells and the electronic components of electric vehicles.

Silver in Solar Photovoltaics

Conductive layers of silver paste within the cells of a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell help to conduct the electricity within the cell. When light strikes a PV, the conductors absorb the energy and electrons are set free.

Silver’s conductivity carries and stores the free electrons efficiently, maximizing the energy output of a solar cell. According to one study from the University of Kent, a typical solar panel can contain as much as 20 grams of silver.

As the world adopts solar photovoltaics, silver could see dramatic demand coming from this form of renewable energy.

Silver in Electric Vehicles

Silver’s conductivity and corrosion resistance makes its use in electronics critical, and electric vehicles are no exception. Virtually every electrical connection in a vehicle uses silver.

Silver is a critical material in the automotive sector, which uses over 55 million ounces of the metal annually. Auto manufacturers apply silver to the electrical contacts in powered seats and windows and other automotive electronics to improve conductivity.

A Silver Intensive Future

A green future will require metals and will redefine the role for many of them. Silver is no exception. Long known as a precious metal, silver also has industrial applications metal for an eco-friendly future.

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Visualizing All the Known Copper in the World

Are we running out of copper? This graphic from Trilogy Metals paints a clear picture of all the copper in the world, above and underground.

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All the Copper in the World

Visualizing All the Known Copper in the World

Copper has many important applications in the modern economy. From smartphones and cars, to homes and hospitals, we use the metal almost everywhere, especially with renewable energy.

Often, consumers take for granted the accessibility to modern technology without the thought of where the materials come from or their impact on the environment. The world and its resources are finite and confined by both geography and the technology used to extract resources.

As governments and economies struggle to achieve a sustainable balance between humanity’s material impact and the health of the planet, knowing the availability of resources will become a critical pivot for achieving and maintaining that balance.

Copper is one such resource—and today’s graphic from Trilogy Metals outlines all the copper ever mined and what known resources still exist on Earth.

Are we running out of copper?

Above Ground Copper Resources

The production of mined copper has increased dramatically over the last two decades, From 9.8 million metric tons in 1995 to 20 million metric tons in 2019, a 104% rise over 25 years.

A total of 700 million metric tons of copper have been mined throughout history. Based on the 2019 average price of $6,042/metric ton, that’s worth $4.2 trillion—more than the value of Apple and Amazon combined.

Chile has been the source of the majority of the world’s copper and the biggest copper mining nation. Together, Chile, Peru, and China account for 48% of current global copper production.

RankingCountryMine Production 2019 (Ktons)CountryReserves 2019 (Ktons)
#1Chile5,600Chile200,000
#2Peru2,400Peru87,000
#3China1,600Australia87,000
#4United States1,300Russia61,000
#5Congo1,300Mexico53,000
#6Australia960United States51,000
#7Zambia790Indonesia28,000
#8Mexico770China26,000
#9Russia750Kazakhastan20,000
#10Kazakhastan700Congo19,000
#11Indonesia340Zambia19,000
Other Countries3,800Other Countries220,000
World Total20,000World Total870,000

Source: USGS

As we enter the era of renewable energy, electric vehicles, and see more global economic growth, the demand for copper will continue to rise. In fact, the Copper Alliance projects an increase of 50% in just the next 20 years.

Are We Running Out of Copper? Not So Soon

Although a large chunk of the Earth’s copper is already above ground, there’s still more to mine.

According to the USGS, identified copper resources amount to 2.1 billion metric tons, with a further 3.5 billion metric tons in undiscovered resources.

At current production rates, it would take about 105 years for us to use all of it and this does not even account for recycling or new discoveries. Copper is 100% recyclable, and nearly all of the 700 million metric tons of mined copper is still in circulation. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that we won’t be running out of copper anytime soon.

Despite copper’s apparent abundance, the red metal is expensive to actually get out of the ground. As a result, the supply of copper has often fallen short in meeting its rising demand. This, in addition to falling resource grades in Chile, the largest producer of copper, emphasizes the need for new discoveries and mines.

While there are known reserves of copper above the ground, the Earth remains largely unexplored because of the inability to explore for minerals in the depths of the oceans and other planets. As the readily available supply of copper becomes scarce, the incentive to mine currently uneconomic copper increases.

A Mineral Intense Future

Most consumers take the immediate availability of materials such as copper and other metals for granted, with little thought about whether there is enough.

But it’s important to remember that these materials are as finite as the dimensions of the Earth. In this material world, understanding what is and what is not available is critical for a sustainable future here on Earth.

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