The Hottest eCommerce Trends For 2020 & Beyond

Hottest eCommerce Trends
  • Written By Chris
  • Posted January 27, 2020
  • Read Time 11 minutes

It’s a new year and a new decade of course, so we thought it made sense to look into what upcoming eCommerce trends could start influencing the marketplace in the not-too-distant future. What should you be focusing on in 2020 and beyond?

Looking back at the 2010s as a whole, it’s obvious that eCommerce has now become a huge part of everyday life in the UK and worldwide. The ability to access, browse and order the products you want through the internet has revolutionised the way we work today and continues to have a significant influence on consumer shopping habits.

Let’s take a look at some of the trends we think could be driving serious sales growth over the next decade.

The Rise Of ‘ReCommerce’

Perhaps one of the biggest changes over the last couple of years is the intensifying calls for environmentally conscious decision-making from businesses of all sizes. Showing your love for the planet is for everyone these days, so the pressure is on organisations to act on their carbon footprint and reduce waste wherever possible.

Research from Cone Communications showed that 87% of consumers suggested they would be more likely to buy a product from brands that offered social or environmental benefits. If this doesn’t encourage business to go green, what will?

It’s off the back of this renewed focus on a greener world where we meet an entirely new entity referenced as ‘reCommerce’ – the growing online market for used products which is growing year by year.

The expectation that the second-hand market is set to explode into life over the coming decade comes off the back of data collected by Thredup, with the market to more than double in 5 years. Why? A number of factors all coming together really, including the increased focus on sustainability, a need to keep one step ahead of fleeting trends in fashion and other industries, plus the simple delight customers love of getting a desirable product for less.

Take a look at an industry giant like Facebook for example, even they have their finger in the reCommerce pie with their online marketplace. Fashion brand Lucy & Yak are a smaller but still relevant example, selling their returned clothing on second-hand marketplace Depop. So, this is a trend that isn’t going anywhere soon.

If you’re a retailer that could facilitate the return and resell of your products without a loss of quality, it might be time to get on board this growing trend. Think about your audience and whether they’d be interested in this offering, how you’d go about reselling your used products and also if there are any additional costs involved in doing so.

If you’re a retailer that could facilitate the return and reselling of your products without a loss of quality, it might be time to get involved with reCommerce.

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The key thing to remember here is that it’s not just about going second-hand because everyone else is; it’s because of the wider positive impact on your customers’ experience.

The Continued Growth Of Social Commerce

The use of social media boomed in the 2010s and shows no signs of abating any time soon. With so many consumers now active across the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, the opportunities to promote and sell are huge.

Social commerce, where consumers complete a transaction in full directly on their chosen social media platform, continues to grow too so we have no doubt that this is a hot trend for 2020 and beyond. Being involved in this kind of eCommerce means you’re positioned in the prime location, where your audience is relaxed and ‘hanging out’ online – promoting your product or services in this environment reduces the friction in the buying process.

Instagram Shopping is a fantastic example of how social media users can easily be turned into customers. Introduced back in 2016 with limited features, their social commerce offering is now one of the most extensive and provides a fantastic way for businesses to reach potential new customers through targeted ads. Instagram originally required the customer to visit an actual eCommerce website, but now Checkout on Instagram is able to facilitate the entire process within the app.

There are two key takeaways here. First of all, consider how you could promote your products or business on social media. Are your customers active and engaged on the platform? When would they be most likely to make a purchase? Are there any platform-specific features you could use to boost conversions?

Secondly, we think it’s worth investing in any tools or tech that make engaging with your social media audience easier. For example, if you’re going to sell on Facebook, consider utilising a chatbot to manage your audience and gently nudge users towards conversion.

Chloe Varnfield

PPC Manager

Media Lounge

Shoppable social posts reduce touchpoints for consumers, making them a great way to ensure a high ROI. With the fantastic targeting options now available, it’s easier than ever to acquire new customers through interest, demographic and lookalike audience targeting as well as remarketing to those who have visited one of your product pages or added to cart. If you aren’t already, I would highly recommend considering shoppable social posts and ads as part of your social media strategy.

Embracing PWA Technology

For anyone that doesn’t recognise the term, PWAs are Progressive Web Apps – simply put, a mobile website that operates in the same style as a native mobile app. Popular sites that have utilised PWA technology for a number of years include Twitter and Gmail, but 2020 has already seen a number of major eCommerce players start to embrace the tech too.

PWAs have the goal of streamlining the online shopping experience and bringing you, the consumer, the very best customer experience possible. This is why the word ‘native’ is so important, PWA technology maintains the exact look and feel of your eCommerce website on a native app suited to the device being used – this means that Android users see an Android-like app, Apple users see an iOS-like app and so on. And all of this without being required to manually download any app at all.

This is a slightly trickier trend to get on board with, as the only way to enjoy the benefits of PWA technology is to invest in it, but we think it’s well worth it.

While you might baulk at the idea of spending thousands on a PWA experience for your customers, there is a growing feeling that this kind of technology will no longer be just a ‘nice-to-have’ in the eCommerce industry, but more of an expectation.

This makes sense when you think about it – why are PWAs growing in popularity right now? Because they bring several desirable qualities to your mobile site experience:

  • Higher speed
  • Ease of navigation
  • Responsiveness
  • Improved functionality
  • Increased customisation

The list goes on! And many of these qualities are paramount to success in eCommerce, both right now and in the future.

Interactive Product Visualisation

What still remains as one of the biggest obstacles to online purchases right now?

Customers aren’t absolutely confident about the product.

That’s right, customers need to be sure this is the product for them before they click that ‘buy now’ button. It’s human nature to be cautious about something you can’t physically touch, and sight alone can only take you so far – so what can be done?

One of the most progressive trends for 2020 and beyond is product visualisation. Online reviews and social media influencers aren’t enough any more; customers want to touch a product, feel it, hold it and remove all those feelings of doubt before buying.

While high-quality images used to be good enough, times have changed and so technology has had to keep up. Virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D imagery are now set to bring products to life before your eyes, all from the comfort of your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Bringing the in-store experience to online customers has always been challenging, but we’re likely to see significant strides into this area over the coming years as businesses compete to provide a truly comprehensive shopping experience. A simple carousel of images will be replaced by engaging and detailed video clips, immersive 360-degree product shots as well as the ability to manipulate, flip and rotate the product in any way.

Take a look at the power and control you have over your shoes at Converse UK. The customer has total confidence in the product they’ve customised thanks to the excellent interactive nature of the page.

So how can you capitalise here? Well again, it’s going to take an investment of time and money – that said, this kind of functionality can really elevate your store to the next level and attract customers away from your competitors.

Think about the best way to display your products and what (if any) customisation you could offer. High-quality imagery is a starting point, but it won’t make you stand out in a crowded market. It’s increasingly likely that 2020 and beyond will demand better, more informative product catalogues and a greater level of interactivity could be the difference between success and failure for your store.

It’s increasingly likely that 2020 and beyond will demand better, more informative product catalogues and a greater level of interactivity could be the difference between success and failure for your store.

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eCommerce Goes Headless

First things first, you might be wondering what we mean when we use the term ‘headless’ – and you won’t be alone. Headless commerce is an emerging technology that allows you to create your content once and then customise it to individual platforms as required.

Imagine building your store on a single CMS system that allows you to manage all your content behind the scenes, without a front-end directed at the user. This is where the ‘headless’ element comes in.

Headless platforms are not coupled to a front-end, meaning developers have the power to utilise APIs to deliver products, blog posts or anything else to any size screen or device. Front-end developers can then present that content via ANY framework they desire to provide the best user experience.

Why is this way of building eCommerce stores going to become so popular? Well, there are a few reasons.

Utilising a headless platform gives you the power to seamlessly develop a comprehensive, omnichannel experience for your customers – something that is fantastic for building brand consistency. It also lets you repurpose content quickly and easily, meaning you can future-proof your store as well as your customer experience.

The only way to take advantage of this technology is to make the move over to a headless commerce solution as soon as you can. Using this kind of system will give you the platform agility required to protect your brand and could make all the difference in the future.

Authenticity, Transparency And Trust

The competition in eCommerce has never been bigger or more fierce, and it’s only going to continue into 2020 and beyond. This makes keeping hold of the customers you already have more crucial than ever if you’re going to remain at the front of the queue in your niche.

eCommerce businesses have traditionally been focused around attracting new customers and growing an audience as quickly as possible, but that model – while it remains important – now needs to sit alongside something similar for retaining existing customers. Incentivising loyalty is going to be big in 2020.

The way to visualise this in your own mind as a business owner is to consider customer lifetime value ahead of acquisition, particularly if you are an established brand. It costs a lot more to attract new customers than it does to encourage repeat sales from existing ones, so it makes perfect sense to invest similar energy into the latter.

And what is the best way to do that? Operating a brand that demonstrates authenticity, transparency and can be trusted.

It can be easy to talk about being authentic and transparent, but often brands miss the mark by not putting it into practise. We believe there are some simple things you can do to help:

  • Be more ‘human’ in your marketing – people generally respond better to advertising that has an emotional element attached to it.
  • Make contacting your business as easy as possible – offer telephone numbers, email addresses, live chat functionality, even a postal address if you want to.
  • Work around company values of transparency and authenticity – encourage your employees to feel comfortable querying things that don’t match up to your values.
  • Use your blog or social media channels to demonstrate your company’s culture, processes and give behind-the-scenes insights into your business.

Transparency and trust in a brand is huge, and can often turn would-be customers into regular ones as they begin to buy into what your business stands for. They want to be a part of something that not only helps them, but helps others too.

Sustainability and environmental awareness also comes into the equation here – customers generally want to know exactly what they are buying, where it comes from and the processes involved in obtaining it. Brands that can build that level of trust will do better in the long run.

Conclusion

As you’d expect heading into a new year and a new decade, there are plenty of hot trends that you need to be aware of. Some you may choose to get on board with, others might not work for you or your business – that’s absolutely fine, but at least you’ve made the decision yourself rather than it being made for you.

No matter which trends you choose to follow, you’ll enjoy more success if you pursue them with the positive intention of providing a better user journey and a more engaging shopping experience.

By their very nature, trends will ebb and flow across weeks, months and years but some will become part of the foundations of a good eCommerce business, and those are the ones you need to concentrate on. Make the right decisions, capitalise on the most significant trends and you could see fantastic returns in the years to come.

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