The E-commerce revolution is growing at a rapid pace and shows no sign of slowing down. Not only is it growing, it is also evolving. Allied industries move in parallel which only makes e-commerce an even stronger force. As reported by Statista, the online portal for statistics for market and other consumer data, the e-commerce revenue growth was registered at 23% in year 2018 over 2017. And, it is forecast to still hit around the 20% mark in 2019 and 2020.
If you’re already onboard the e-commerce arena, for certain you have looked up the latest trends and development and have implemented them. For e-commerce newbies, the statistics and the trends will be too enticing for you not to try and scale your business.
E-commerce trends we saw in 2019
E-commerce in the year 2019 is not without the emergence of key developments that will move through with updates in year 2020. There were a lot, of course, but we will highlight some of those that we deem will be used optimally and be upgraded continually.
We have seen the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how this was taken advantage of by many of our entrepreneurs. We even caught up with an AI platform in the recent RISE Conference that showed us their latest creation – dipp, a pioneering advertising automation solution based in Taiwan, created Massimo, dipp’s AI designer. Massimo is an advertising designer for facebook, instagram and chat app marketing, banner ads and digital brand.
A lot of e-commerce entrepreneurs got their hands on AI and integrated it in their business. It uses algorithms and analyzes data to provide product recommendations to your customers and you, in turn, will know what your customer wants.
Social Media Marketing
The use of social media platforms in advertising and marketing of products was also a trend that just kept growing in 2019. Not only were they used to advertise and promote products, they also became an avenue for e-commerce entrepreneurs to do social listening. Feedback, comments, mentions of your brand, keywords – these and others are monitored and analyzed through your social media accounts. You can then use the data gathered in deciding whether to launch a product or not and in crafting your marketing strategy to convert searches to sales.
Social media also has become transactional where customers can purchase directly from social media channels.
Expanded Mobile Commerce
While being under the umbrella of e-commerce, mobile commerce or m-commerce, is also gaining traction on its own. The research firm, eMarketer reported that looking at the global statistics, m-commerce accounted for about 52% of the total e-commerce sales in year 2018 and is looking at a jump to around 67% at the end of 2019.
Tighter Cybersecurity Measures
Information, particularly customer information, is the new gold, so they say, and truly, it is. In fact, many, us included, faced threats of cybercrimes, the most common of which is hacking. It was the rise of more high-profile and more complex cybercrimes that also called for stricter cybersecurity measures.
There are other trends that made waves in 2019 but now is the time to look at the emerging trends for the year 2020 that will even further the growth of e-commerce globally.
Emerging Trends for Year 2020
1. Omnichannel expansion
If you don’t know what omnichannel is, it integrates various channels, or in the true sense of the prefix “omni-”, all. The channel that we mean here goes beyond online platforms. It also covers telephone, print, mobile apps, shopping sites, pop-up stores and the brick-and-mortar and how these channels can be integrated into a universal experience for your customers. The key here is to provide your customers what they need, wherever they are and in whatever device they use.
This will not go without a challenge though. With the different channels you need to be working cohesively with one another, you have to move fast and strategically. Internal organization is crucial; inventory management must be thorough; customer analytics must be comprehensive; data must be accurate. While there’s a load of work in going the omnichannel selling approach, if done right, it can open opportunities to generate more sales than focusing on one channel or just a couple.
2. M-commerce innovations
M-commerce is still seen to dominate e-commerce, projected to cover about 73% of the total ecommerce sales by year 2021. To get on the m-commerce wagon, you must consider these following m-commerce innovations to capture your customers’ interest on your products or your site:
- Faster speed in loading your site.
- Smart site-search experience
- Personalized experience
- Integrate Augmented Reality
- Instant pay
3. Continuing rise of Social Commerce
While social commerce has existed for quite a long time now, it is seen to dominate the social media landscape in the year 2020. Top social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) have already introduced e-commerce features in their platform making online purchases easier.
Social media plays an important role in scaling your business. You build brand awareness and can drive traffic to your main landing page. There are even new features that allow instant checkout within the platform – Instagram Checkout, for one. You can complete a purchase without leaving the platform – an end-to-end experience for users. And, this is apart from the promotions and ads happening in social media.
Social commerce has expanded so much that it gave rise to smaller platforms but with an equally important niche that they cater to. Tiktok, the video-sharing social media platform, recently dipped their hands into social commerce. The platform is testing shoppable videos where the influencer can put URLs in the video that link to their product sites. Pinterest too is expanding its shoppable pins to visual searches. The impact of these new developments will be most felt this year.
4. Expanded use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in E-commerce
We will see more innovations in the use of AI and ML in eCommerce in the year 2020, on a more expanded scale. More and more entrepreneurs are integrating AI in their businesses making it more customer-centric. The AI applications are geared towards establishing a more reliable customer data to better help you in your marketing strategy.
The use of chatbots, a feature of AI, will continue to be actively used and will become a necessary tool in your operations. It will not just provide for the basic customer service assistance but also spans to the more advanced customer engagement. Product recommendations, content recommendations and personalization, among many others will give you and your customers a different kind of brand experience.
You will see that AI in e-commerce will be applied in voice searches, visual searches, personalized product recommendations, dynamic pricing, inventory management and customer behavior modelling, among many others.
AI is customized to individual businesses, so more first-party data is being fed into the business tools. The algorithms then of these tools will return recommendations customized to the kind of customer experience that you want to drive at and thus, maximize potential revenues.
5. Hyperlocal eCommerce
What is hyperlocal eCommerce? In most developing countries that support local businesses, this is a trend that will see a rise in 2020. Hyperlocal business means the businesses within your local vicinity – restaurants, malls, pharmacy, grocery and other product and service providers.
What is being addressed by the hyperlocal eCommerce is the demand for immediate delivery of products. A special characteristic of a hyperlocal business is its close proximity to its customers and suppliers. The supply chain hits close to home. The sellers are also retailers and traders themselves especially when a local business does not have its own delivery model.
In India, for instance, there are a lot of hyperlocal delivery startups that capitalizes in the millennial behavior of wanting to have things in an instant. Products or services are delivered at their doorstep in one tap. They have there Big Basket, Swiggy Go, Dunzo and others. Bigger e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart are also jumping on the opportunities of hyperlocal e-commerce, investing in logistics and mobile technology.
Re-commerce or Reverse commerce refers to a platform that purchases and sells pre-loved goods. This online market will be seeing more growth in the years to come. According to Thredup, the re-commerce market accounted for around $24B in the year 2018 and is expected to breach the $50B mark in 2023.
Other companies purchase used goods and refurbish or recondition them like brand new and sell them at a profit. There are also those that go for luxury brands that customers are willing to buy second-hand at a lesser cost.
What drives the increasing trend are the customers’ awareness towards sustainability and the need to be fashion-forward (in the case of apparel) at a much lesser cost.
7. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
As an arm of AI, the integration of VR and AR in e-commerce has proven to be a worthy investment by businesses that aim for a higher level of digital experience for their customers. Integrating AR will allow your customers to see how a product will “feel” like even without touching it or being next to it. It will be a more personalized experience that will influence their purchasing behavior.
In make-up for example, your customers can virtually try on the shades that will look good on you. You can remove and then choose another shade. If you are then satisfied with the way it looks on you, you can right away click shop and the checkout button.
You can also try to virtually place furniture on your home to see what it will look like. This has proven helpful especially to homeowners to see if a certain furniture or a bunch of furniture can be put together perfectly without compromising space. One can see then how the room will turn out before doing the purchase.
8. Progressive Web App
To further support your omnichannel approach in selling, if you are to go that direction, it is a priority for you to invest in progressive web apps. What is a progressive web app, you might ask? You know how e-commerce websites are sometimes not optimized for mobile. The tendency of the customers, especially since most are into mobile shopping, is to download a native app instead.
Here, your mobile website is optimized to have the feel of navigating a native mobile app. Navigation will be streamlined just as a native app offers without the need to download an app. One of the benefits of integrating a progressive web app in your business is that your customers can still browse through your products with the basic shopping cart functions, even without an internet. Data that was sent and cached can be accessed in offline mode.
9. E-commerce stores reinventing brick-and-mortar customer experience
Entrepreneurs still see the value of a physical store rather than operating purely online. Expect a marriage of e-commerce approach and the brick-and-mortar approach. Online stores are reinventing their physical presence by providing a digital in-store experience through the use of AI and AR.
You can launch events in your physical store bringing your customers together for a collaborative and interactive experience. A physical store can also open an opportunity for your customers to pick-up their orders through a BOPS (Buy-online-pickup-in-store) option.
10. Drone delivery
Like straight out of a sci-fi story, drones might be making its way, or in this case, flying its way to your doorstep to deliver goods. Major companies have already started to dabble and experiment with drone delivery systems – Amazon’s Prime Air, GoogleX’s Project Wing, UPS, Uber Eats, Swoop Aero and others.
This was seen as a necessity especially in delivering medicine or vaccines that will require immediate delivery even to the most remote areas. The delivery cost will be at the minimum compared to the more expensive shipping or freight costs.
Some of the limitations of drone delivery include distance as it can only cover short distances; it is not weather-proof; battery-life is short. Who knows, this might open a window to create more hybrid models that will address all the limitations.
Keep Up With The Trends To Keep Going
There are still a lot of emerging trends that you can take advantage of. But integrating these trends into your business should be more than just to keep up with others. Carefully study and analyze your demand, your customers’ demands from you, the opportunities presented to you to plan and see what your next steps will be. Should you integrate into your business all the trends listed above? Is it necessary?
The goal should be to go for revenue growth, profit maximization, customer satisfaction and business sustainability and not to be trendy, well, that could be secondary.