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The eCommerce Industry in 2020: Top 10 Trends

FATbit-Technologies
FATbit Technologies

Through extensive research and a careful analysis of the recent events, we’ve compiled this list of 10 trends that look set to rock the eCommerce industry in 2020.

Building on the stable momentum of 2019, the eCommerce juggernaut is expected to fare well in 2020 in virtually all areas. The projected global sales for 2020 is $3.9 trillion. That will mark a marginal increase from 2019 where the projected figure is $3.5 trillion.

But if anyone wants to understand the direction that eCommerce at present appears to be bound on, these stats would prove insufficient. Partly because there hasn’t been a major discrepancy in the last two years’ records and partly because the changes, at least for now, don’t lie in the stats; they relate to the fundamental aspects of this industry. So as an eCommerce enthusiast where can you expect to find the answers?

It turns out, eCommerce trends offer a much better picture of the changes occurring in the very fabric of the industry. Through extensive research and a careful analysis of the recent events, we’ve compiled a list of 10 trends that look set to rock the eCommerce industry:

Content to Take Center Stage

Encouraged by the incessant march of the internet, brands both big and small have ramped up their content marketing game to reach their target audience. As a result, we have oceans of content on the internet on every topic imaginable. But is it getting the job done? Customers feel personalized marketing still has a long way to go given the extent of irrelevant and annoying ads an average internet user comes across on a daily basis. But, online marketers remain confident that progress is happening. Modern technology and data science are aiding the creation of more accurate buyer personas. In view of that, one thing remains clear – Content Marketing is here to stay and it’s going to get even more aggressive in the immediate future.

Chatbots Will Gain Wider Currency

Chatbots have copped a fair bit of flak in the past due to their restricted functionality and lack of human touch. But that’s all changing, thanks to AI and machine learning. The modern chatbots are smarter, more useful and moreover, becoming a hit among the general population. In 2020, we expect their key role will likely remain the same i.e. simplifying the user experience and reducing as many constraints in the buying process as possible. So, by handing the majority of the tedious and repetitive work chatbots will allow SMBs to divert a major part of the workforce to strategic growth activity.

Social Media & Influencer Marketing Will Drive More Sales

Social media is moving out of its conventional role of connecting people with each other to help them discover things they may be interested in buying. That is the finding of a survey, in which 78% of Facebook users admitted encountering, in their past 3 months usage, an ad for a product which they were thinking of buying. It’s the same story with Instagram and Pinterest.

Nowadays, people aren’t visiting these platforms simply to find out what their friends are up to but also to explore the latest trends in fashion, sports, home decor, fitness, and whatnot.

One thing social networks have in abundance, which is also craved for by eCommerce websites, is an inexorable supply of internet users and they’re leveraging it to the best effect. A study found that 55% of shoppers go on to buy a product after discovering it on Social Media, which makes one thing certain – the success of eCommerce websites will depend a great deal on their effective use of social media marketing. Finally, there’s influencer marketing, which is claimed to deliver an 11% greater ROI than any other form of digital marketing. We’ll see brands turn increasingly towards influencers to gain a wider audience-reach and a boost in their sales.

B2B Is Going to Explode 

B2B is ripe for a major transformation. As per a forecast by Forrester, the US B2B eCommerce will be worth $1.8 trillion and account for 17% of all B2B sales in the US by 2023. This is going to result in a goldrush-like situation where many new players will enter the fray to share in the industry’s growth. But growth isn’t the only thing that B2B is going to witness. Today, Millennials comprise the majority of B2B buyers: a generation, popular for its taste of technology, convenience and high usage of eCommerce websites like Amazon. This change of target audience together with the increasing penetration of the internet in the B2B domain will push merchants to set up shops on Online Marketplaces.

Ecommerce Personalization to Become the Gold Standard in Marketing

Some form of personalization had always existed in eCommerce but nothing of the sort we’re seeing currently. Improvements in technology are enabling brands to understand their customer’s buying habits, taste, preferences and serve personalized content that they’re likely to find appealing. But as brands get smarter about their customer’s needs, customers, in turn, get accustomed to expecting more personalization and this give-and-take effect continues to fuel this trend and 2020 won’t be an exception to it. In the end, brands that implement the best personalization, factoring in customer’s browsing patterns and previous purchases, will take the edge against their competition.

Mobile Buying to Increase Its Share

Back in 2016 internet traffic from mobile and tablet devices overtook desktop for the first time. That was a key moment marking the changing behavior of internet users. The trend hasn’t stopped since and it’s passed wholesale into eCommerce domain. 40% of eCommerce sales in the US in Q3 comprised of mobile commerce. In a few countries, such as Sweden, the percentage was even higher at 60%. 2020 is tipped to be the year when mobile commerce will surpass 50% of all retail eCommerce transactions worldwide. Online marketplaces will need to ramp up their game and offer a more refined user experience to mobile users through optimized content, images and better mobile designs overall

The Stronghold of Ecommerce Will Shift to Asia

The balance of power is shifting. The US, thought to be the hub of global eCommerce, is expected to have its total share shrink to a mere 16.9% in 2020. No, the US economy hasn’t started performing badly all of a sudden but their counterparts in Asia have simply raised the bar with rapid advances in technology and infrastructure. In such an atmosphere, we’ll see businesses needing to adopt an international approach to gain global accessibility and convenience. This doesn’t imply they’ll need to set up brick and mortar shops outside their home country. Instead, they may consider linking up with trusted partners in countries with huge demand for their products.

Voice Commerce to Become the New Norm

As trends go, voice search is still in its infancy. The advent of voice-based devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home is changing the way people interact with brands in the online world. Currently, voice accounts for 20% of search queries. But, by 2020, it’s predicted to go up to 50%, which represents a huge opportunity for online marketers. Inevitably, eCommerce stores that leverage voice search will stand in good stead to receive more traffic, greater user-interaction and increased sales. Offering support for languages that one’s target audience speaks would be crucial in delivering enhanced customer experience.

Cryptocurrency Will Disrupt the Market

There’s been a flurry of online payment methods in recent years. There’s Amazon Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Apple Pay, etc. each offering varying rewards and cashback offers. Online shoppers can be sure to have 1 or 2 favorites. So, aside from their impressive catalog of products and personalized content, eCommerce websites are expected to offer support for all the major online modes of payment. An absence of one or the other digital wallet could be the difference between a complete and incomplete transaction. The reason is simple – digital wallets make for a hassle-free shopping experience. As per a survey, 70% of online shoppers expect that digital payments will supersede cash and card payments by 2030.

But there’s one more dark-horse in contention capable of causing widespread disruption – Cryptocurrency. Until recently, Cryptocurrency was thought to be a big business affair but in a significant step marking a change of normality, Overstock shook hands with ShapeShift in a bid to accept more than 60 cryptocurrencies at its online stores. As more firms follow the lead, we’ll start to see Cryptocurrency bear more weight in the digital economy.

The Sharing Economy Will Drive the Growth of Rental Marketplaces

The sharing economy, also known as collaborative consumption, collaborative economy or peer economy has caused dramatic changes in consumer behaviour over the past few years. Airbnb averaged half a million guests per night in 2015. That’s about 25% more than the Hilton Worldwide. The shift points to clear opportunities for growth and we’ve already seen eCommerce brands apply the ideas, methodology and even resources of sharing economy to build competitive marketplaces.

  • Product-service systems – services that connect freelancer services or spare parts owners with those in demand on a peer-to-peer basis (e.g. Upwork, Airbnb, Gearflow).
  • Collaborative consumption – allows a group of consumers to come together to acquire a product or service. (e.g. Kickstarter, BlaBlaCar).
  • Rental & Subscription – consumers rent or subscribe to a given service on a weekly/monthly or yearly basis (e.g. Spotify, Rent The Runway, Netflix).

While the sharing economy is often discussed in the context of peer-to-peer business models, it’s concept is very much applicable to the traditional B2B and B2C models. In a world where consumers have come to prefer possession-free and option-heavy lives, brands offering subscription or rental mode or services are bound to gain more popularity. This online rental industry report offers an in-depth guide into the trends, opportunities and upcoming rental niches around the world.

Final Thoughts

Going through the list of trends, and more so their implications, one gets the idea that eCommerce is a volatile terrain and quite challenging to navigate. However, its plethora of evolutions also symbolizes its various opportunities that need to be capitalized on. Consumers’ increasing purchasing power, the expanding shadow of the internet bringing in new users all the time, and a rapidly advancing technology all point towards a booming eCommerce economy. Ultimately brands that show urgency in establishing meaningful connections with their customers and offer a wide range of choices will establish themselves as industry leaders.