A new decade brings new opportunities and potential for eCommerce growth
The above sentence was written in January of 2020. Here we are in September and no one could expect the changes and potential for ecommerce growth that the first half of 2020 has brought us. With the total disruption of our daily lives by the global pandemic, COVID-19 has reshaped everything we knew. We come back to this particular blog and look at our predictive trends from a new perspective. How much did we get wrong? and what has already come to pass in a remarkably short amount of time. Let’s take a look!
A recap of the past decade for eCommerce
The past decade was focused on building the functionality and infrastructure for ecommerce that allowed it to be on par, and in some places replace traditional in-person commerce. With giants like Bigcommerce and Shopify empowering individuals to go directly to the consumer, alongside major marketplaces allowing next-day delivery like Amazon and Walmart, customer expectations have risen to new heights. Customer experience was the key focus in the later half of the decade and it has continued to develop and mature into 2019.
COVID-19 – The paradigm shift
By March 2020, the global market changed forever. The global pandemic threw large and small businesses into utter chaos. Brick-and-mortar retail spaces went into complete lockdown imposed by the state of emergencies and business’ strategy took a 360-degree turn into survival mode. Businesses had to make the decision of how they would respond, and lean into their problems to create solutions and adapt.
Ecommerce has exploded since April, with online grocery services becoming essential during lockdown with a surge of 37%. Shopify and other ecommerce platforms have taken the pandemic in absolute stride allowing Merchants to reach their consumers directly. Offering tremendous support to Merchants with credit loans, curbside pickup options, and gift card options, Shopify’s brick-and-mortar stores have been able to replace 94% of their in-store sales online.
Shopify also managed to help large, well-established brands like Lindt and Heiz go D2C in a matter of weeks. All in all, resulting in Shopify users selling 1.5 times more in GMV this past quarter than they did in the fourth quarter of 2019 during BFCM.
Key Trends of 2020 – What’s changed and what has stayed the same
Let’s take a look at some of our previously thought trends for 2020 and see how COVID-19 has influenced or changed their trajectory. Jump to the full list of ecommerce trends of 2020 here.
Number #7 – Omnichannel Remains King
This is no longer a trend but an essential part of a business in a COVID-19 world. Merchants across the world are learning the importance of having a multi-platform journey for their customers. Simply selling through bricks-and-mortar has made some businesses defunct and bankrupt. Having a multichannel selling strategy through e-commerce websites, marketplaces and social commerce is now necessary to survive in 2020
Number #12 – Direct-to-Consumer (D2C)
D2C was a trend we saw coming as more and more Merchants were using eCommerce platforms like Shopify. But mid-2020 we see this is accelerating tenfold. The ability to get your product directly into your consumer’s hands without a middle man or 3rd-party-marketplace has become invaluable to consumers.
Direct communication with customers about delays, shipping information, seamless returns, or any other important information is communicated from the brand, giving customers a better customer experience and creating a trustworthy relationship during difficult times.
Number #11 Chat It Up
In 2029, we saw an increase in investment in chatbots, AI, and real-time conversations from brands with customers, but we see this increasing now at a much more rapid pace. With increased uncertainty, Merchants must stay in constant communication with their customers in order to pass on information about their products, especially if the customer cannot see/touch the product for themselves.
Relying on automated chatbots, or real-time conversations across all sales channels enables the customer to feel confident about their purchase and have a positive customer experience. Therefore, increasing their likelihood of return shopping.
Number #17 – Try before you buy / Look but don’t touch
As the COVID-19 curve is flattened in some countries, it remains with high levels elsewhere. It is clear for 2020 and as long as COVID is with the world, giving your customers safe, alternative methods to look at products is important. In-store experiences will change dramatically and the ability to try on products is limited to social distancing practices.
Using stores as a visual catalog with new and innovative ways of seeing and interacting with products is key for brick and mortar stores. Time will tell which brands set the template for the new in-store experience.
New eCommerce Trends
Number #21 Subscription service becomes mainstream
Subscription services have been on the rise for a while. Everything from clothing and beauty boxes to dog treats shaving kits. What 2020 and the pandemic that has brought to light is the importance of staying home and not doing unnecessary shopping trips to keep your community safe. Subscription boxes offer more than just convenience now but offer a way for the public to receive that they need, including medical prescriptions, groceries, and toiletries that people who are vulnerable to COVID can subscribe to and keep themselves at home, creating less unnecessary risk.
Number #22 Flexible payment options
COVID-19 has had serious effects on the economy and unemployment rates around the world, while we still do not know the extent of lasting consequences of this, it is clear whether is been done by governments or brands, working people need a financial break to afford what they need.
Offering flexible payment options like financing or loyalty rewards can allow customers to feel like they can still afford your products without breaking the bank. This goes a long way with customer loyalty and creating a great customer experience.
The future of ecommerce
For 2020 – no one can say what will happen next. It is clear though that businesses must remain agile and flexible, ready to pivot at a moment’s notice. For that reason, you must focus on your back-end technology stack now by implementing a strong and agile multi-channel integration strategy that will allow you to change and pivot whenever you need to.
Integration of all technology systems is really key to prevent and decease downtime, it allows you to get back to business quickly and effectively with less manual work and less staff, which a lot of businesses are working through right now.
Merchants and businesses will have to continually reflect on their core practices and integration strategies in order to meet major players for the attention of customers. Being anything less than the best in customer experience and staying on the cutting edge of technology is necessary to stand up to the test of time.
2020 will truly test ecommerce businesses on their abilities to implement agile changes to empower lasting growth!