Top 10 eCommerce Trends For Small Businesses In 2020
When it comes to online selling, it can be difficult to keep up with new developments in the market. eCommerce is an ever-expanded industry, with new players entering the game every year. And with new competition and technology come new ways of marketing, selling, and fulfilling orders.
In this article, we’ll break down a few of the major trends we’ve noticed in 2020. We’ll explain each trend, demonstrate its popularity, and then give you some actionable steps to implement it in your own business model. Take advantage of these new ideas to stay up to date with emerging selling strategies and make sure your brand is always keeping up with the competition!
Here are the 10 biggest eCommerce trends for 2020.
Table of Contents
- 1) Increase In Online Sales
- 2) Household Goods Are Up In Sales
- 3) Mobile Shopping Is Preferred
- 4) Subscription Purchases Are Trending
- 5) Ethical & Sustainable Consumerism Is On The Rise
- 6) Free Shipping Is A Must
- 7) Social Media Marketing Impacts Shopping
- 8) Users Want Personalized Customer Experiences
- 9) Chatbot Customer Service Is Popular
- 10) Augmented Reality Can Lead To More Purchases
- Leveraging Trends For Your eCommerce Business
1) Increase In Online Sales
Fortunately, one of the most important trends of this year is the steady increase that we will continue to see in online sales! According to data from Statista, in Q4 of 2019, eCommerce’s total share of the US retail market increased by 11.2% compared to the previous quarter. We expect online sales to continue increasing, with total annual sales projected to reach $419.9 billion, up from $365.2 billion in 2019.
These are encouraging projections for online sellers! eCommerce sales have been increasing steadily for years, and you want to make sure your business gets a cut of the pie. So, keep looking for ways to increase the impact of your online marketing. Test new promotions, create motivating email marketing campaigns, and optimize your site for web traffic. For more recommendations on increasing online sales on your own store, try our article 7 Strategies To Increase Your eCommerce Sales.
2) Household Goods Are Up In Sales
During the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, we’ve witnessed a change in the way people shop. Many customers now express feelings of anxiety around a typical grocery store trip, comparing preparing for a shopping trip to suiting up for battle.
Some customers are now choosing to avoid the grocery store altogether, opting instead to order their household products online. According to a study by Ipsos from March of 2020, 23% of U.S. respondents said they were buying more of their household purchases online instead of in-store. For comparison, 42% of respondents said there had been no change in their online shopping habits, 12% said they had made fewer online purchases, and 23% never made online purchases of these goods at all.
The takeaway here is particularly relevant to those who already sell household products: if you haven’t begun selling online, now is the time to start. For those who do not yet sell household goods, you might consider stocking and advertising in-demand products–cleaning products, self-care products, and other non-perishable items. Make sure your customers know that they can look to you for the products they would typically buy in-store.
3) Mobile Shopping Is Preferred
Since the development of smartphones, mobile devices have had a growing impact on eCommerce. For many years, customers preferred to browse on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), but they returned to a desktop or laptop computer to make their final purchase. In 2020, however, it is possible that mobile purchases will outnumber computer purchases for the first time!
We’ve known that mobile traffic has played a large role in eCommerce for years. As of Q1 2019, 64% of all online shopping traffic came from mobile devices. What is surprising is that this same quarter, mobile purchases accounted for 46% of total eCommerce orders, for the first time on par with purchases made on a computer!
With this in mind, it is absolutely crucial that your online store is mobile-friendly (meaning that it adapts to screens of all sizes). It should be easy to browse on a small screen, with simple headers, search tools, and filtering features.
What’s more, your mobile checkout needs to work seamlessly–complicated checkout can cost you sales! According to one study by the Baymard Institute, out of a pool of customers who had abandoned an online sale in the last months, 21% had abandoned the purchase because the checkout process was too long or complicated. Make sure your checkout only asks customers for the key information: name, email address, and shipping and billing information. You can create a membership/login process, but it’s vital that you allow people to check out as guests as well. Keep the full checkout process to as few steps as possible, and snag those mobile sales!
4) Subscription Purchases Are Trending
You’ve likely seen plenty of subscription boxes advertised online. The Dollar Shave Club, FabFitFun, and BarkBox are just a few examples of popular subscription services. These subscriptions make customers feel like they’re buying themselves a gift, and it works. A 2019 survey from Clutch shows that 54% of respondents who shop online say they are members of a subscription box service.
It isn’t hard for your business to jump on board with this trend. Many online stores are naturally suited to starting up a subscription service. If you sell wine, a wine of the month club would be a natural application. If you sell cosmetics or beauty products, try compiling your own surprise subscription boxes. These boxes are a great way to introduce customers to new products, move some older inventory, and ensure regular purchases.
But even businesses that don’t sell glamorous products can benefit from creating subscription offers. If you sell consumable products that customers purchase regularly–think toiletries, natural cleaning supplies, or pet food–you have a great market for subscription purchases. Customers will appreciate the automatic re-ordering process, especially if you give them the flexibility to start and stop shipments at any time.
Finally, if you choose to set up subscription boxes as an option on your site, make sure you have a payment method with recurring billing features. Take a look at our full article on recurring billing for more information.
5) Ethical & Sustainable Consumerism Is On The Rise
This year, retailers should expect consumers to become increasingly conscientious in their purchasing habits. Today’s consumers are more careful than ever in their purchasing, favoring products and businesses with ethical and sustainable practices. According to a Nielson survey in 2018, 81% of global respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment.
As you consider implementing better environmental practices in your own business, I suggest you start by rethinking your packaging. How you package your products and shipments can leave your customers with a big impression, either positive or negative. Good environmental practices include using recycled plastics and cardboard, as well as packaging your products in the smallest boxes possible. Shipping your products in smaller boxes not only uses less cardboard, but it also takes up less space in a delivery truck, meaning it takes less gas to deliver.
Whatever environmental and ethical practices you decide on, make sure you advertise that information. Of course, it’s always good to be environmentally responsible; but, it’s only going to increase your sales if you let customers know how you’re reducing your footprint.
6) Free Shipping Is A Must
The words “free shipping” are every customer’s favorite phrase and every online seller’s biggest challenge.
Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart have made free shipping an expectation for many customers. The National Retail Federation’s Consumer View report in January 2019 showed that 75% of consumers surveyed expected free shipping, even on orders under $50. What’s more, 29% of interviewed consumers had abandoned a purchase because two-day shipping wasn’t free.
This is a huge burden for smaller online retailers. As all online sellers know, “free shipping” is never free, and offering free shipping on the wrong orders can completely eliminate your profit margins (sometimes even causing you to lose money on a sale!).
That’s why it’s important for sellers to be strategic about the ways they offer free shipping. You might choose to set order totals that customers must reach in order to earn free shipping (i.e. “Free shipping on orders over $50!”). Or, you could offer free shipping on every purchase, but then raise their product prices to account for the shipping costs. Alternatively, you could offer free shipping as a limited-time promotion when customers sign up for your newsletter. There are many options to consider! For more recommendations, take a look at our articles 8 Hacks For Saving On Shipping Costs and 7 Strategies To Increase Your eCommerce Sales.
7) Social Media Marketing Impacts Shopping
In the past two years, we’ve seen a sharp rise in the popularity of social media marketing. Instagram influencers, social media managers, and professional YouTubers have changed the game when it comes to online marketing.
And that shift to social media has also made an impact on online sales. Now customers aren’t just learning about brands and products on social media–they’re purchasing them on social media too! In 2019, social commerce accounted for $22 billion in sales, and that number is projected to rise to $29.3B in 2020.
If you haven’t started selling yet on social media, it’s time to get started! Look into selling on a Facebook store, via shoppable posts on Instagram, or through buyable pins on Pinterest. You should also consider beefing up your social media marketing methods. Define your brand, discover your audience, and consider hiring a social media manager. For more recommendations on creating a successful social media presence, check out our Guide To Social Media Marketing.
8) Users Want Personalized Customer Experiences
Personalization is not new in eCommerce. For years, online sellers have been using personalization in their email marketing campaigns, and with great success! Research shows that emails that use a customer’s first name in the subject line have a slightly higher open rate, and when you use a customer’s name in the body of the email, you gain a higher click-through rate!
Now online sellers are applying personalization to their online storefronts. The most popular method of personalizing your customers’ shopping experience is through product recommendations. Recommending the right products can make a big impact on your bottom line. According to data from Barilliance, sales from product recommendations account for up to 31% of a seller’s eCommerce revenue. That’s not a small amount! Be sure you list recommended products on your site, whether those recommendations are based on your customers’ browsing history, past purchases, or the items currently in their shopping cart.
Personalization can make a big impression on your customers. Do your best to personalize your shopper experience in any way you can!
9) Chatbot Customer Service Is Popular
A chatbot is an artificial intelligence software that is designed to answer common customer questions within a chat window.
Chatbots are quickly becoming a popular option for large businesses to easily handle large volumes of customer inquiries. According to statistics from eMarketer, in 2019, 40% of survey respondents had previously used chatbots to engage with retailers. And fortunately, it seems that most of those interactions go well. A 2018 study by Sumo Heavy showed that 72% of people who had interacted with a chatbot found the experience to be helpful and informative
For many small businesses, creating a chatbot may seem like a complex and overwhelming task. Fortunately, there are many software add-ons available that can take away the technical hassle of creating a chatbot. For Shopify users, you can find a number of Facebook Messenger chatbot applications in the Shopify App Marketplace.
For those who don’t use Shopify, there are many other chatbot programming software apps to which you can subscribe to in order to create your own solution. For example, a software called ChatBot lets you create question-and-answer flowcharts that you can easily turn into a chatbot’s programmed responses. Chatfuel lets you create a chatbot for your Facebook Messenger, and Kik also allows you to build your own chatbot (although Kik does require you to work with their API to do so).
Fortunately, building your own artificial intelligence doesn’t have to be hard. There are many options that you can take to simplify the process of setting up your own customer support chatbot.
10) Augmented Reality Can Lead To More Purchases
Augmented reality is a type of virtual imaging software that allows you to overlay pictures and videos of reality with a digital image. You may have seen augmented reality used in mobile games like Pokemon Go, when a digital creature seemingly appears right in front of you! Using augmented reality (AR), customers are able to “place” your products in their own homes, walk around them to view them from all sides, and even “try on” accessories and cosmetics.
While AR may seem like just a gimmick, studies show that AR can lead to more purchases! According to data from Tractica, global revenue from mobile augmented reality apps (including social media, games, eCommerce, and more) is expected to increase 89.5% from 2019 to 2020, resulting in $6.2 billion in global revenue in 2020.
AR can have multiple applications in your eCommerce business. You can use AR to let your customers view your furniture in their home, get up close to a new camera, or try on a pair of earrings.
Fortunately, enabling AR on your site doesn’t have to be complicated. Shopify users can take advantage of the new Shopify AR, which uses Apple’s AR Quick Look to enable AR experiences for Safari users. Sellers on other platforms should look into AR tools like Augment, and Marxent 3D Commerce. These apps do the hard part of creating an AR experience. Often, all you have to do is import multiple product images to get started!
Leveraging Trends For Your eCommerce Business
In an ever-evolving industry like eCommerce, it can be difficult to keep up with the new developments and trends in the market. However, this year you can keep up with the competition by using the steps we’ve included in this article.
As you consider your approach for this 2020, think about the steps you’re already taking to stay in line with current trends. Where are you racing ahead, and where are you falling behind? It might be a good approach to pick one or two areas in which your business is beginning to get outdated, and start by improving those areas. It’s best to make sure your site is up to date with all of the current best-practices before you try to get on the cutting edge of online selling.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there, review your current practices, and see which of this year’s eCommerce trends you want to tackle. You’re going to do great!
Here’s a quick reminder of how to get started:
- Review your online marketing strategy
- Look into selling household goods
- Make sure your site works seamlessly on mobile
- Create subscription products for your store
- Consider sustainability in how you package and ship products
- Offer free shipping when you can
- Sell on social media
- Use product recommendations to create a personalized shopping experience
- Program a chatbot with add-on applications
- Use an augmented reality tool to help customers envision your products