It’s fair to say that 2019 has been a year of political chaos, area 51 memes and royal scandals. The looming shadow of Brexit has continued to cast doubt over the economy, in turn stagnating the growth of many industries. Despite this, the eCommerce industry has continued to thrive. In fact, Official National Statistics show that in October 2019 19% of all retail sales happened online, and this is expected to grow to 50% within the next 10 years (The Guardian, 2019).
For the third year in a row we’ve researched and pulled together a list of trends that are set to dominate the eCommerce landscape in the new year. Let us know what you think, will you be taking these trends into consideration?
Machine learning (ML) is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows systems to use data and algorithms to perform functions they aren’t explicitly programmed for. There’s a reason it’s number one on our list, and that’s because ML is set to revolutionise eCommerce in 2020. As online shoppers become savvier, there’s pressure on brands to personalise their interactions with consumers. That’s where ML comes in. Machine learning means that search results, product recommendations, retargeting and product pricing can now be personalised based on previous shopping data. In previous years, access to machine learning and big data was restricted to big players due to the sheer cost of it. However, thanks to new market entrants like PureClarity eCommerce personalisation can now cost as little as £299 per month.
Tip #1 The key to successful personalisation is data. The more data you can collect about your customers; the more accurate the recommendations will be. Pay particular attention to their demographics, purchase history, search terms, how long they spend on your website etc.
2. Direct-to-Consumer (D2C)
The second trend that’s set to be popular in 2020 is a shift in business models from business-to-business (B2B) to direct-to-consumer (D2C). Manufacturers are starting to skip the middleman and enter their markets directly. The benefit of this for manufacturers is more profit, and more control over brand reputation. A recent report by Bringg (2018) found that 48% of manufacturers are looking to build D2C channels, and 87% believe D2C is relevant to their products and customers. What does this mean for eCommerce? As a consumer you can expect to do more shopping from D2C companies in 2020, with many opting for the subscription service route. For example, HelloFresh and GlossyBox.
One brand that is paving the way with D2C is mattress brand Casper, who are on a mission to become the ‘world’s largest end-to-end sleep company’.
D2C brands like Casper are rewriting the playbook on how to connect with consumers. They are keeping up with customer’s pace and understand the impact of personalising every touchpoint.Brian Cleary, VP of Solutions Marketing at RedPoint Global
3. OmniChannel Retail
OmniChannel retail refers to an approach that seeks to provide a seamless user experience across several touchpoints, both online and offline. Whilst eCommerce is growing, the majority of retail sales still take place offline (ONS, 2019). What we’re experience is a shift from bricks-and-mortar to bricks-and-clicks. Customers expect to be able to start interactions at physical stores and continue these conversations online via mobile or desktop computer. This means that the relationship between your physical stores, emails, app, social media and eCommerce website is incredibly important. Analytics are a major part of OmniChannel retail – they’ll tell you which platforms your customers use, when they use them and how they use them.
One example of this comes from Starbucks. The Starbucks app lets you skip queues by ordering online and picking up in-store. It can also be used to identify which songs are playing in-store, which users can then add directly to their Spotify playlists.
4. Headless eCommerce
Headless eCommerce occurs when the presentation layer of a website is separated from the backend eCommerce functionality. Without a ‘head’, which is usually a template or theme, developers use application programming interfaces (APIs) to send and receive requests between different layers. The benefit of this is flexibility, as designers and developers can create fully tailored solutions from scratch based on the individual needs of their business. This goes hand-in-hand with OmniChannel retail, as headless eCommerce doesn’t require your backend to be rebuilt in order to publish on new/different platforms. To get started with headless eCommerce look at BigCommerce, which integrates seamlessly with popular CMS like WordPress for frontend functionality.
5. Video Product Descriptions
Research by Forbes shows that 59% of people would prefer to watch a video than read an equivalent blog post or article. This suggests that customers are more likely to purchase your products if you include a video description. This is nothing new to the fashion industry, who have been utilising video descriptions for several years. Take a look at ASOS, for instance, who feature a catwalk-style video on each of their product pages. This is beneficial as it eases purchase anxiety by showing users exactly what they’re going to be receiving and what it looks like in a real-life, 3-dimensional environment. Quite frankly text can bore customers, and some products don’t translate well into text. If catwalk videos aren’t right for your business why not try explainer or how-to videos?
6. Marketplaces as Search Engines
The way that people buy products online is changing. In 2018, 48.1% of people started their product searches on Google and for Amazon is was 23.6% (ShopBlocks, 2018). Over the next few years we can expect to see this shift, with Amazon overtaking Google to become the number one product search engine. With over 119 million products available, it’s easy to understand how Amazon has become a one-stop-shop. But what does this mean for your eCommerce store? By no means are we expecting Google to die, but the way that it is used has changed. People still use Google to research their problems and available solutions. This may result in a decline in sales on your eCommerce store. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to start selling your products on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.
7. Dark Mode
eCommerce trend number 7 is design orientated. This year we’ve witnessed big players introduce toggles that allow users to switch between light and dark versions of their websites and apps. We’ve seen this on Twitter, Instagram and iOS 13, amongst others. In 2020 we can expect smaller retailers to follow suit. Dark mode is popular amongst consumers as it reduces eye strain and improves the readability of text. Practically speaking, dark mode also extends battery life as black pixels are simply turned off. Giving your customers the choice to toggle between dark and light versions of your website will do wonders for their user experience. What’s more, adding dark mode to your website usually isn’t too difficult and can be achieved with CSS variables.
Everyone can relate to being in a room where the lights are turned down and you’ve got this white screen blinding you.Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management for Android and Play at Google
8. Green Consumerism
With reports suggesting that we’ve got less than a decade to get climate change under control, it’s no surprise that consumers are beginning to think twice about their online behaviour. Millennials, in particular, are keen to only purchase vegan and/or environmentally friendly products. Green consumerism affects all stages of your eCommerce strategy – where are your products manufactured? Are they packaged in recyclable material? Is the delivery carbon-neutral? Do you donate to charity? While this may sound expensive, research by Shiptimize shows that 50% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, and 44% are willing to pay more for carbon-neutral delivery. Going green pays for itself and helps to save the planet… it’s win-win!
9. Progressive Web Apps
Thinking about taking your business online but only have the budget for a website OR a native app? Introducing Progressive Web Apps (PWA), a hybrid solution! PWAs are mobile web pages that behave like regular native apps. According to Gartner Research, in 2020 50% of all consumer-facing apps will be PWAs. So they’re definitely worth considering! Retailers are beginning to spend less on native apps due to ‘app fatigue’ in which users are discouraged from installing new apps due to the effort required. In fact, the average mobile user downloads 0 apps per month. PWAs are a favourable alternative as they can be created by making small changes to your existing website. Start by creating an app manifest, designing an icon, enabling offline browsing and setting up push notifications.
We’ve equipped you with all the information you need about the state of eCommerce in 2020, now it’s over to you! If you want to discuss how you can implement these trends drop us a message via the Contact page.