Table of contents
In 1995, the first item ever was ordered online on Amazon – a book. 25 years later, the eCommerce industry achieved sales worth $3.53 trillion worldwide. When it began, eCommerce was limited in its capabilities, but not anymore. It has transformed retail over time, continuously evolving to meet the changing needs of people and to make the online shopping experience easier for today’s dynamic customer.
Whether it’s hyper-personalization, convenient return policies, or enhanced integration, all of these changes among a multitude of others have taken the eCommerce landscape by storm. But if you think that eCommerce has reached its pinnacle and there isn’t room for more, think again.
We believe that 2020 is here to further transform the world of eCommerce. We have listed the top 10 trends that bear testimony to the fact that eCommerce is still advancing at a rapid pace and there’s new frontiers to be conquered. You too can benefit from these advancements by ensuring that your business is in sync with the development tide.
1. Consumer awareness of the environmental and ethical footprint
Modern-day consumers have become more aware of the environmental and ethical footprint of their shopping preferences, including digital ones. They are concerned about the hidden impacts and cost of consumerism in general, which also impacts their decisions while using eCommerce. Merchants who resonate with the value system of the customers are likely to receive more advantages over the ones who don’t.
According to a survey, 48% of U.S. buyers would “probably” or “definitely” alter their buying habits in order to reduce environmental impact. Considering the fact that societal and environmental impact is exerting a strong influence on consumer choices, brands must leverage eCommerce to create the visibility and the transparency that customers seek.
2. Progressive web apps
The changing consumer needs require providing them content on-the-go without compromising with consumer experience. That’s why we are seeing many prominent brands focusing on enhancing user experiences with progressive web applications. Implementing PWA ensures the optimal usability of a website across all mobile devices, irrespective of the underlying platform. AliExpress, an Alibaba site, has pioneered the use of progressive web applications in commerce and claimed that building great mobile experiences through the PWA platform enabled them to grow three times faster than an eCommerce site.
As the focus of web delivery shifts to improving things like site speed, navigability, and functionality, PWAs in eCommerce will become an essential part of customer experience in 2020 and beyond.
3. Transactional social media
As of 2019, there were 3.2 billion social media users worldwide, and this number is growing. Undoubtedly, the step of integrating eCommerce with social media networks is a reasonable step. We saw more brands recognizing the potential of social media channels as powerful advertising platforms with a large pool of potential customers and made use of it last year.
Major social media players such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube support product pages and eCommerce platforms integration solutions. We’ll see more companies creating accounts on popular social media channels in order to increase sales in 2020.
4. In-car e-commerce
Car commute is soon to emerge as another focus for brands. The increasing number of commuters using ride-sharing apps have a bandwidth to consume media and make purchases while travelling as they don’t have to focus on the road. Apps like Uber and Google maps have already started to place ads directly within their products. The fact that they can be geo-located, allowing for targeted advertising, makes them highly lucrative.
Podcasting apps and streaming music services also provide opportunities for interaction, personalized advertising, and dynamic call-to-action buttons. Automobile manufacturers like GM, via their Marketplace offering, are finding ways to partner with brands to offer commerce-enabled experiences within their vehicles. 2020 will see the commerce channels paired with effortless commuting, leading to a whole new path of growth for brands.
5. Efficient omni-channel approach
The right omni-channel strategy requires knowing a customer’s preferred channel to communicate, with the right message, at their convenience. Being judicious in sending appropriate messages via relevant channels is a must. For instance, if you wish to send out a long form or an information newsletter, then email is your channel, but if you wish to send out a short, quick-hitting information, then a push notification or SMS would be the way to go. 2020 will be all about achieving omnichannel effectiveness and crafting platform-specific messages for the right place at the right time.
6. Content repurposing
Content repurposing is fast catching up in a response to audience demand to receive information in a format of their choice. When customers receive information in a format that works best for them, they are more likely to engage with your posts.
Companies are using one piece of content as a framework to create another, but in a different format. For example, an influencer video that demonstrates the use of a product could be recreated in the form of a blogpost that lists step-by-step instructions for how to use the product or even fashion an infographic out of it.
We’ve started to see content repurposing on various websites such as Amazon, where instead of just displaying products with their specifications in the form of pictures and videos, they have also started to feature how-to guides for selecting the right product.
7. Drone delivery
The FAA predicts that there will be 7 million drones in the air by 2020 and that commercial drone sales will reach $2.7 million. We’ve already seen companies such as Amazon, UPS and Dominos experimenting with drone technology. As real-world use of drones for delivery purposes is in its infancy, we can anticipate seeing more and more companies adopt it for smaller and local deliveries.
Drone technology, that has been an underlying conversation for the past decade, is likely to finally become mainstream reality in 2020.
8. Headless eCommerce
Headless commerce is the future of eCommerce for all the obvious reasons. Using a headless platform allows organisations to seamlessly offer an omnichannel experience as it eliminates the front end dependency. Besides, the content can be repurposed with relative ease. Simply put, a headless commerce platform enables you to deploy rapid updates without impacting your back-end system. And you can easily make any changes to your front-end to coincide with the speed of consumer technology. Brands around the world have already started switching to headless ecommerce. Here are the 15 best examples from 2019.
Migrating to this platform is a promising way to future-proof your brand and get 2020 started on the right note.
9. Facial recognition linked with data
Data collection is no longer limited to online channels. Physical retailers are also catching up by collecting personal data via facial recognition, tracking beacons, point-of-sale data and other traditional digital measurement and analytics. WiFi, sensors, RFID beacons are gaining popularity at brick-and-mortar stores.
Offline data, thus collected, is helpful in identifying high-traffic areas in the store, overlooked products, dwell time and more. Amazon Go stores are using computer vision to recognize faces and products in order to provide a truly frictionless purchasing experience that doesn’t require check-out. 2020 will combine web, mobile and social data with in-person data collection and analytics, bringing retailers much closer to a truly 360-degree hyper-enhanced customer experience.
10. Interactive emails
We have seen email inboxes becoming dynamic and browsable, which is a significant shift from mere gifs and images. From choosing products, opening menus, leaving ratings and reviews, consumers and buyers have done everything without ever leaving their inbox, the email or mail app.
We will now see more brands and merchants making emails significantly more interactive and actionable, including integration with media-rich formats like video.
Additionally, interactive emails will make it possible to dynamically update emails, thereby removing outdated information contained within an old email.
Technology breakthroughs are often considered eureka moments. While that holds true to an extent, leveraging advanced technology to create new opportunities is more about programmatic and disciplined effort carried out over time rather than impulsive inspiration. One key takeaway from the above-mentioned trends for organizations, is to consider how they can establish processes that can identify the best fit technologies, evaluate them for effectiveness, and incubate them to transform their enterprises before they themselves are disrupted.