Ecommerce / Strategy

The Biggest Commerce Trends in 2020

ecommerce
Simon Dell
Simon Dell
Reading Time14 minute read

In the constantly changing commerce market, there’s no doubt that things are moving at a rapid pace. eCommerce already plays a huge role, and that’s a trend that doesn’t look like slowing down. Many of the trends we expect to see taking over in 2020 are directly related to eCommerce, but that doesn’t mean brick and mortar retail outlets aren’t evolving too.

We understand that technology drives a great deal of the changes in our world, but why are we seeing so many new trends emerging in the commerce world? Many are financially motivated, whether it be customers looking for cheaper options or businesses looking to cut their operating costs. Others have their origins firmly in the world of the ‘customer experience’, which is a concept that’s almost impossible to ignore in 2020. 

Ultimately, for many businesses, it’s all about staying ahead of the pack and standing out from the crowd. As consumers, we can look to benefit from a whole host of commerce trends in 2020. Let’s take a look at how our world is set to change.

Content as a Priority

If content isn’t the main priority for marketers and business owners already, it probably should be. So much of our daily lives are conducted online, and it’s where we take in most of our content. Forbes reports that 55% of people use social media for their news, so there’s no doubt in our increased thirst for online content.

Producing quality, relevant content is one of the biggest challenges in eCommerce, however it is integral to maintaining a strong online presence. Firstly, informative, well-structured content can help to establish a business as an industry leader. A company that knows their stuff and can be trusted. Building this sort of reputation enhances their ability to sell.

But what is ‘content’? Content can be anything that is consumed online – articles, videos, audio, podcasts, social media posts and even platform-specific content for networks like LinkedIn. The key to content marketing in 2020 will be the fact that it should be driven by search queries. Companies will be putting more effort into finding out what information people need, what problems they need solved, and providing a content-based solution.

AI Chatbots

Companies using chatbots as a customer service tool is one trend we see growing exponentially in 2020. In 2018, only 43% of people said they would rather deal with a human than a chatbot. While that figure probably decreases every year, we can expect to see continued use of AI chatbots in the future.

They’re already all around us – think of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Microsoft Cortana. The technology isn’t particular new, but the capabilities and uptake are continually increasing. We expect that 2020 will see more and more businesses adding chatbots to their website for online support. Coupled with the ability to integrate a chatbot into platforms like Facebook Messenger, the way we deal with businesses is changing.

For customers, the key benefit is being able to interact with a business 24/7. This sort of availability is almost expected now, and chatbots make it happen. For businesses, the benefits are great. Not only is it in a company’s interest to provide a 24/7 salesforce, it’s also considerably cheaper than human labour.

One-Click Checkout

Originally used by Amazon, one-click checkout technology allows customers to purchase items online with just one click, provided they have purchased before and saved their payment information. Back in 2017, Amazon’s patent on the technology expired and the door was flung open for others to adopt their own versions.

One-Click Checkout

Now, many eCommerce platforms offer their own one-click checkout technology, which is huge for customers and businesses alike. In today’s current commercial landscape, people want things fast. The idea of entering credit card details and billing addresses for every single purchase is a massive turn-off for customers. In this scenario, customers win because their purchases can be hassle-free. Businesses win, because consumers are more likely to give them repeat business when they know it’s so easy.

For example, Apple already has Apple Pay, making purchases simple through an iPhone, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are working on a standardised set of online payment standards to make things even easier. But the real growth here will be found in companies being able to adopt their very own one-click payment method on their websites.

Subscription Commerce

For businesses looking to sell in one of the smartest, most efficient ways possible, subscription commerce is a growing trend that isn’t slowing down. There’s a few ways that subscription commerce has started emerging. 

Firstly, many companies are now offering delivery of products on a regular basis. This is generally known as a replenishment service. For retailers selling items that customers always need to stock up on, it makes perfect sense. If we’ve got a favourite brand of personal hygiene products, dog toys, even food, we’ll be seeing more options to pay for a regular supply. This makes sense for consumers as it’s completely hassle-free. For businesses, it helps them control inventory and they’re getting repeat business without re-marketing.

Other subscription commerce examples are things like software programs. Rather than pay a larger amount for a set piece of software, we’re now moving toward a system where annual licenses are purchased. It helps with scalability, and the lower price is an easier sell for businesses. We’ll even see this trend increasing with services such as gardening, maintenance, pest control and all manner of household costs. Pay up front, and the service keeps coming on schedule.

Direct to Consumer

Direct to consumer shopping

In the world of start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurism, Direct to Consumer (D2C) marketing is clearly the way forward. In the past, small manufacturers of boutique or home-made products needed to work tirelessly to score a distribution deal. Whether that be dealing with wholesalers or approaching retail outlets to stock their products, it’s a messy, time consuming and not very cost-effective way to run a small business.

With the eCommerce boom has come the opportunity for small-time manufacturers to market their products direct to the consumer. This cuts out the middle-man – no more percentages going to wholesalers, distributors and retailers. By getting online and selling directly to the customer, small businesses can drastically increase their profit margin (or offer products at a more consumer-friendly price).

Product Personalisation

Retailers are starting to work out the value of truly unique items – that is, the value placed on them by consumers. People have a thirst to have something completely their own, that nobody else will have, and businesses are jumping onto this trend.

personalised nikes

Already we’re seeing the NikeID program, allowing customers to personalise their sneakers. Levi’s are also offering personally embroidered jeans for that one-of-a-kind look. 

If companies have a product that can be easily personalised without too much added expense, then we will start seeing more and more personalised products in the market. From embroidery and monograms to offering products in customised colour schemes, the possibilities are endless – and extremely popular with consumers.

Social Commerce

For some, the idea of never having to leave social media in order to do their online shopping sounds like a gift from the heavens. Well, that’s one thing we’re going to see explode in 2020. We’ve already seen Instagram Shopping come to life, however this requires customers to be redirected to an external eCommerce platform. Through the newest incarnation, Checkout on Instagram, the whole sale takes place within the social media platform itself.

Facebook already has options like Facebook Marketplace, and businesses are increasingly starting to use Facebook Messenger chatbots as a tool to advertise their products and services. It makes sense, considering the amount of time we’re spending on social media. 

Businesses will be working hard to identify the best times to encourage people to make purchases. As they become more familiar with how to best use a social platform’s technology, expect to see companies becoming more and more active on social media in 2020.

Voice Search

Voice search is becoming a factor already, and with the staggering growth of technology like smart home assistants, voice search will become a major player in 2020. We’re already seeing the popularity of Google Home and Amazon Echo (we’ll touch on these later), but voice search is becoming more and more popular with standard search engines too.

voice search

Smart phones have been using voice technology for a while now, but only recently has it become a factor for search engines like Google. The message for businesses looking to capitalise on this growth is to invest time in your website. With voice search, having relevant keywords and phrases will be crucial. By using structured data and schema to notify Google of the important parts of their website (product names, business locations, opening hours, event times), there’s a good chance to capture more of the voice search market.

Multi-Channel Customer Experience

Research indicates that people spend, on average, around 2 hours 20 minutes on social media every day. For people aged 16-24, that figure creeps up over 3 hours. That doesn’t mean people are sitting on one social platform though – they’re often bouncing back and forth between several. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are the most frequently used, and marketers need to know how to harness their power correctly.

Social Media Shopping

No longer is it feasible for businesses to rely on one or two marketing methods to get their message across. The emphasis in 2020 will be on businesses delivering platform-specific messages to their customers at the right time. 

Many businesses also have their own apps, meaning they can send push notifications to customers at any time of day. The key will be working out where and when is the best time to market to an audience. Expect messages to be tailored more for particular platforms too. Instagram is visual, so there won’t be a lot of words involved. Email marketing will still be used for longer messages, but SMS and push notifications need to be shorter to capture people’s attentions.

It may not be great news for consumers, but expect to hear a lot more from the businesses you follow (and some you don’t) in 2020.

Re-commerce

Some time in our lives, we’ve probably all visited a second-hand store or donated to one. We’ve also probably purchased second hand goods through sites like eBay or any number of geographically specific used goods websites. However, we can expect this type of re-commerce to become more prevalent in 2020.

Now that second-hand goods can be sold through social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace and various online buy & sell groups, it’s never been easier to get your hands on some quality pre-loved goods.

Obviously second-hand goods cost less, and as the cost of living rises, people are looking for cheaper options. However, in a world where social media plays such a role on how people are perceived, consumers want to be seen in new styles constantly. This isn’t a cheap exercise, although it’s much cheaper if you buy second-hand.

The other key concern, though, is sustainability. It’s a huge word in all aspects of retail, and shoppers are now more than ever making choices with the planet at the front of mind. Recycling and re-purposing is a great way to reduce our footprint, so second-hand commerce is ready to boom.

Expect savvy retailers to jump onto the trend by offering trade-in services which encourages shoppers to buy more, while also maintaining control over where their used products are sold.

Bring eCommerce to the Real World

Remember when eCommerce burst onto the scene and had traditional retailers rushing to move their operations online? Well, it seems like hands-on retail is something that just won’t die. While it certainly continues to decline, and online retail keeps growing, customers still enjoy the experience of shopping in person.

In 2020, expect to see the continuing trend of online-only retailers setting up temporary pop-up stores. You might find these at local shopping centres, trade shows, fairs or any other kind of event. Until now, online retailers have relied heavily on their ability to attract customers through digital marketing methods, but we’re also seeing them branch out into the brick and mortar world too – if only temporarily.

Pop-up stores and temporary stalls give customers the opportunity to see and touch items in real life, and not have to wait for delivery. Similarly, with the technology available today, customers could potentially visit a pop-up store, purchase a product and request delivery. They could even have the product on their doorstep before they get home. 

This mix of the old and new highlights the fact that retailers are finding more creative ways to meet the needs of their customers.

Social Conscience Commerce

The topic of sustainability has been growing for a number of years now, and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Even as far back as a 2015 Nielsen report, 66% of people said they would pay more for products if they came from a sustainable brand. Those numbers certainly aren’t decreasing.

90% of CEOs are even saying that sustainability is integral for success. This tells us we can expect more companies to be supporting social causes and working to decrease their own footprint. Many clothing brands are already taking steps towards ethically sourced materials and only partnering with offshore manufacturing plants if their employment standards ensure a proper quality of life for workers.

Add to this the continued rise of eco-friendly products and packaging. Companies are flagging their sustainability credentials by moving to biodegradable, eco-friendly packaging. Some food outlets are even offering discounts for customers who bring their own re-usable packaging. In 2020, the clean, green trend is only going to gather more momentum.

Flexible Payment Options

We touched on the digital revolution of One-Click Checkout earlier, but there’s another push towards simpler payment methods that applies both online and in brick & mortar stores. As people try to break free of debt, especially credit cards, companies are adopting easier and cheaper ways to buy.

Flexible payment

Products such as Afterpay and Zip Pay allow consumers to purchase items and pay for them in 4 instalments. Almost like a lay-by, but without waiting to get the product. While this can be risky if you over-spend, these methods are generally seen as much more consumer-friendly than credit cards.

As businesses look for ways that make it easier for customers to deal with them, flexible payment options will become the norm.

Smart Home Assistants

If you thought that smart home assistants like Google’s Home or Amazon’s Echo were just a passing trend, think again. This technology is extremely popular, especially in Australia where uptake of the devices is even outpacing the US. Voicebot reports that 29% of the Australian adult population, or around 5.7 million, have adopted smart home assistant technology.

These devices are already being used to purchase items like groceries, clothing, home care products and much more. Yet, that’s only with a relatively small percentage of retailers operating through shopping channels like Google Express. In many ways, the technology is still in its infancy, but if the current level of adoption is anything to go by, we can expect voice activated shopping to take significant steps in 2020.

As the popularity of voice search, as well as the quality of voice recognition and the number of retailers partnering with Amazon and Google grows, so will the amount of dollars being spent through smart home assistants in 2020.

Conclusion

The world of eCommerce is changing, from the way we search to the way we purchase. Consumers drive these changes, forcing businesses to adapt or fold. Many of the trends we’ve discussed in this article are technology-related, and this means businesses need to always be searching for new ways to do more with less. But other trends are all about making it easier for customers to find and interact with brands.

If you need help staying ahead of the game, contact us at Fly Paper Planes for a range of digital solutions to help you keep moving with the times.


Simon Dell
Simon Dell

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