Top eCommerce trends in 2019 and what to expect in 2020

It’s time for a roundup of the top eCommerce trends of 2019 and our predictions for 2020.

Let’s start with the good news, which is that eCommerce growth is showing no signs of slowing down. Global eCommerce sales have increased by an annual average of 2% for the past five years. Just in case you were wondering, that’s about £54bn of yearly growth in the US alone!

The bad news, of course, is that Amazon remains the dominant player. Though, with their loss of big brands (such as Nike and Ikea) maybe the tide is about to turn?

So, without further ado, let’s take a look back over 2019 and see what our eCommerce experts predict for 2020.

Multi-channel selling

It’s becoming apparent that consumers (particularly millennials and post-millennials) are using more than one channel when purchasing online. This was confirmed by a recent study which concluded that 90% of consumers expected brands to offer an omnichannel shopping experience.

To put that demand into perspective, a purchase in 2005 typically involved about two touch-points. As of right now, a similar purchase involves almost six!

With numbers like that, it’s no wonder why 2019 saw such an explosion in multi-channel selling across channels such as eBay, Amazon and social channels such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

This trend will inevitably continue into 2020, especially if more solutions become available to solve the challenge of managing multiple sales channels.

Multi-channel experiences

If you’re going to sell across multiple channels, then it makes sense to create a cohesive customer experience throughout the journey. Many brands pushed for this in 2019 to maintain a consistent connection with their existing customers – no matter where they chose to interact with the brand.

Great examples of this include the UK fashion retailer Oasis. They combine their online store, mobile app and physical stores into a single elegant customer experience. This works by equipping each member of their team with a company iPad. From there, they can provide on the spot product information, process card payments and even place online orders for you.

This convenience is no different to the same experience you would have using their mobile app yourself. The key takeaway is that the brand has unified the online and offline experience – with little effort.

Free shipping

A recent study by The Baynard Institute concluded that the number one driver of abandoned carts in 2019 was the presence of additional costs – such as delivery fees. Which explains the number of online retailers that experimented with free shipping options last year.

Some retailers opted to bake these delivery fees directly into the prices of the products. Others explored alternative methods, such as offering free delivery at set basket values or restricting free shipping to specific times of the year.

In our opinion, the biggest winner was loyalty based free shipping for customers that sign up or pay an annual fee. We think this will become even more popular in 2020, with online retailers leveraging these loyalty programmes for remarketing purposes – it just makes sense!

The decline of brick and mortar stores

2019 taught us that no one is immune to the perils of the high street. The obvious example of this is House of Fraser, who closed 7 of its 59 stores in the last 12 months, primarily due to the high overheads. This number could have been far higher if it wasn’t for the brand’s early investments into eCommerce.

That said, many brick and mortar retailers have managed to flourish, including brands such as Zara, Selfridges and Asos. In fact, Selfridges is a great example of a brand that has a solid understanding of its customers and fights to stay relevant. As observed via their many themed events, advertising campaigns and active social presence.

eCommerce predictions for 2020

We’ve already mentioned a few 2019 eCommerce trends that seem set to continue. So let’s take a look at a few emerging trends that seem set to take centre stage.

Going green

When Colonel Sanders created his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices, he probably never envisaged that it would end up on a vegan burger. The world has certainly changed and with it, so have consumer attitudes. In a recent study, 87% of consumers said they would prefer to buy from a brand that offered environmental or social benefits.

In 2020 we expect to see more eCommerce brands embracing green alternatives. This could happen in several ways, from switching to green web hosting to opting for biodegradable shipping materials. All of which will help to reduce their carbon footprint.

Google Shopping

Most eCommerce websites rely on paid or organic traffic from Google. In 2020 we can expect to see more brands embracing Google as a marketplace in its own right via Google Shopping. This prediction is especially apparent when you consider that text ad spending declined by 12% in 2019 versus growth of 41% for shopping ads.

Best of all, it’s becoming increasingly easier to integrate your eCommerce site with Google Shopping. This is thanks to product feed extensions such as Google Shopping Feed for Magento, which connects seamlessly with your Google Merchant Center account.

Flexible payments

Payments via PayPal have become the norm and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are becoming more commonplace. In 2020 we can expect to see widespread adoption of flexible payment options such as ClearPay and Klarna. These payment services allow consumers to finance their purchases and pay for them later at 0% interest.

The convenience of flexible payments removes many traditional barriers to purchase, such as worrying that you will overspend or not wanting to run up a credit card bill. It’s also great for brands too as it boosts both sales and the average order value.

What are your thoughts and predictions?

We’d love to get your take on our 2019 review and predictions for 2020. So if you think we’ve missed anything or have any suggestions of your own, get in touch!