When writing about ecommerce trends, there’s always a question as to whether it’s a trend, a paradigm shift or shifting baseline you are talking about. In many ways, the trend itself is not new, just the level of the trend. When you look at trends, you can choose between focusing on trends that might emerge and become large or old trends that are taking the next step.
In this short article, I will mainly focus on ecommerce trends that do not feel particularly new, but that still will be game changers during 2020 -performance, video, engagement, direct to consumer (D2C), online marketplaces and sustainability. This is an excerpt of a longer article written for our partner Episerver, read it here.
If you are browsing for products, interesting content or attractive prizes, a slow site is as close to torture that the modern consumer gets, and every millisecond of waiting is an experience killer.
Since your site is (more or less) no longer used on desktops for long sessions, but rather in short bursts during the ongoing customer journey, like on the bus, on the toilet or in the store, the winner is the site that can maximize those short visits.
People still read - books and on tablets, but for many people reading is seen more as an achievement than pleasure.
So, the question is why would people, who do not really want to read, all of a sudden like to read long product descriptions? If the customer doesn't know enough about your product, text will not satisfy them. Their knowledge often needs to be complemented by YouTube where they most probably can see a video of the product in all angles, being used and reviewed.
By letting your customers exit your site to get the information they need, you open up opportunities for competitors to snatch your customer. For 2020 make sure this won’t happen by offering videos where you show that you are the one to visit for deep knowledge, not a place for products alone.
If what you sell and stand for does not engage, you will fast be forgotten. With the algorithms of social media advertisements promoting engagement, your message will not be heard if engagement is too low and the time where you could scream from billboards alone to be recognised is long gone.
In 2020 we will see sharper statements from ecommerce sites and businesses about who they are and what they stand for and more focus on customer collaboration and rewards for engagement. The most successful businesses will be able to maximize engagement on their own platforms and channels (own forums, advanced on-site reviews, displayed user generated content (UGC)) in synergy with social and traditional media.
4. Direct to consumer (D2C)
When everybody thinks they can do a “Daniel Wellington” and just need a product, an ecommerce-site and a social media account to harvest gold, you might think that the D2C trend is already passing, but that is not the case.
When shopping more and more is done in social media channels and fuelled by engagement rather than big advertisement budgets and interests are shared globally among peers, the right product, story and feeling still have the potential to go from nowhere to everywhere in a blink. You don’t need more than one or a few products to sell when you are exposed in the right feed and one click shopping makes it hassle free for the customer. The combination of brand, product, and channel is potent, and we will see traditional players responding by taking the same strategy where possible.
5. Online marketplaces
If you are not where your customers are, they will not buy from you. If that place happens to be Amazon, Zalando or Asos, then that’s the place you need to be. Or, if you happen to be the main player in a niche, you can take the role as the marketplace owner.
However, those who can be their own marketplace compared to those who will sell through marketplaces as a channel will always be fewer. We will see the death of new marketplaces where they just won’t reach the critical mass needed for momentum or creating the depth that customers demand from a marketplace.
Smart integration of channels and data, effective internal processes and organization, prizing and range strategies as well as customer acquisitions for marketplaces will all be big considerations this coming year for many ecommerce businesses.
Sustainability - the mega trend for 2020 and beyond
2020 will be the year where customers will actually care (not only say that they do) about sustainability when it comes to what companies they want to do business with. It won’t matter if you are ecommerce, traditional retailer or both, sustainability will matter.
Greenwashing is no longer an option as a strategy (not for the planet or for a business). From a business perspective you need to be offering a guilt free shopping experience to your customers or you are selling them guilt – which they don’t really want to pay for.
Even though sustainability isn’t a trend, the real trend will be to handle sustainability in a sustainable business way i.e. not only adding cost, but by finding new ways to produce, sell, rent, co-create, re-sell, re-use, recycle, etc. that are profitable. Here we will see a lot of creativity from ecommerce businesses.
Modern commerce 2020
In combination with other trends like AI and machine learning, voice, smarter shipping solutions and return management, chat bots, visual search, web-based AR, 3D product customization, new payment solutions and other supporting trends, these trends will affect the commerce landscape a lot.
And if you combine high-performance ecommerce with smart video product information with a sustainable business model and engaging customers directly, supported by a smart marketplace strategy, you will find the new trendsetters, and possibly paradigm shifters, right there, shifting the baseline.