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Six Ecommerce Trends to Track in 2020

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New year, new you, new…user experience trends to keep an eye on if you’re an ecommerce merchant.

With the holidays around the corner, you’ve probably already deployed your end-of-2019 marketing strategy to the fullest—and that’s a wrap. But it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s opportunities for customer capture & keeping—since, if the numbers aren’t lying, e-commerce sales worldwide will increase by at least 19%, constituting 16% of all sales, in 2020.

1. Square, Stripe, WeChat Pay, AliPay…Pay Any Way

You want customers around the world? You’re gonna have to pay for it…if you are payment-inflexible. However, some of the greatest innovations in the ecommerce tech sphere of the past decade have occurred to face this problem: among them are a few names with which you’re probably familiar if you have some experience in ecommerce—Stripe, Square, AliPay, and WeChat Pay, to list only a few.

Country by country, online customers’ preferred mode of payment differs. This is for a variety of reasons—among them cultural preferences (i.e. credit versus debit cards), the penetration rate of mobile wallets, and even brand recognition/trust in terms of secure payment platforms.

Want to be able to catch (read: convert) ‘em all? Accept as many payment methods as possible—or at least the ones most commonly used in your target or most lucrative market regions. You can find out which payment methods your customers are using with PrestaShop’s handy country-by-country list.

2. Internet of Things (IoT)

OK Google, what’s an IoT?

Maybe you’ve already asked this kind of question to a device somewhere in your household, or in your car, or even just on your phone. Here’s your answer: an IoT isn’t a thing, its…well, things (plural): it stands for the Internet of Things. And those ‘OK Google’ or ‘Alexa, play…’ that have become familiar jargon to Gen Z and Y-ers are actually just CTAs to devices that are part of the Internet of Things.

Any device that can exist in non-Internet-connected form, but has been Internet-ified in recent years, falls into the category of the Internet of Things. This includes things like the Apple Watch or FitBit, to Google Home or Alexa, to home heating and parking garage optimisation systems.

Omni-channel is on the agenda

As the omni-channel shopping experience becomes essential to all ecommerce endeavors, optimising your client experience for IoT-based purchase platforms is a sure bet for the future. Using a headless CMS to make your website accessible from all IoT objects (the Apple Watch comes to mind here, as well) without the device-related front-end constraints that a lot of traditional CMS impose is just one of the ways you can get your ecommerce store ready for the IoT era.

3. API-based/headless commerce

Headless CMS technology isn’t only useful for managing the front-end of a website (be it an e-store or not): it’s also becoming a standard for managing transactional data.

The concept of headless commerce follows the same logic as headless CMS in general, but focuses particularly on what a headless system can do for e-merchants.

Going headless, for ecommerce sites, is a way of “future-proofing” existing product, customer, and sales data—as well as marketing materials.

What exactly does “future-proof” mean?

Well, if trend #2 holds true—that is, the Internet of Things continues to expand and democratize—it’s probable that, by the end of 2020, lots more customers will be shopping from devices that are neither smartphones, nor tablets, nor computers. You’ll need a way to deliver your site to them that isn’t restricted by screen size and operating system requirements.

Headless commerce systems allow you to do just that—distribute your content (product page descriptions and images, pricing details, the works) and collect user/customer data (e-mails, purchase histories, etc.) no matter what device the latter is shopping from.

Omni-channel marketing

There’s that buzzword again—omni-channel. Get ready to start hearing that even more often next year.

You can use headless commerce systems to omni-channel-ize your marketing: provide copy and images/videos for your ads and CTAs, and, with the right headless CMS, you’ll have formatting models for ads on watches, voice-activated objects (think Alexa), interactive cars…as well as traditional mobile/tablet/desktop interfaces.

4. Re-commerce/secondhand

The COP 25 in Madrid has been perhaps the most heated to date, the polar bears are losing ground to melting Arctic ice, Greta Thunberg is overturning everything we know about activism (and inspiring some of the Internet’s most popular current memes). Needless to say, it looks like 2020 is (finally) going to be a turning point for environmental awareness.

But even if this is the case—more Earthlings conscious of our planet’s dilapidated state, more think-pieces about hybrid cars (do their batteries pollute? Are they worth the hype?) on Medium—people also seem to be warming up to the fact that awareness isn’t enough

Living a comfortable lifestyle—of which, often, ecommerce orders play a part—in 2019 will have its price in 2030, the experts are saying. Radically changing our modes of consumption is the only way likely to get us out of this mess. Not so paradoxically, this change can also come from ecommerce.

Online consignment giant ThredUp recently released its 2019 data, showing an exponential growth in the fashion resale market—over 21 times as fast as that of the general apparel market.

5. Click & collect

Roy Moussa, co-founder of retail shelf-vision startup Qopius, knows what’s up when it comes to inter-channel optimization for retailers: his company’s technology is all about using digital data to get the right items on physical store shelves, and vice versa—using imagery of physical store shelves to inform retailers what they should be stocking more of online.

He’s pretty well-placed to speak on the matter of click and collect, a retail practice that has been gaining traction as consumers become quality-conscious.

“There has been a revolution of retail since the end of 2017,” he told the incubator Plug & Play in a recent interview, “driven by Ecommerce leaders evolving their business models to physical. Examples of this are Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and the launch of Amazon Go.”

He’s onto something—there’s a tendency to combine online efficiency with in-person authenticity that works. Theoretically, most shoppers can get everything they need online today, and yet brick-and-mortar retail foot traffic continues to drive sales.

Whatever the psychology behind our attachment to physical shopping experiences may be, the fact remains that people haven’t stopped going to stores, despite having the power to purchase pretty much anything from the palms of their hands.

Back to the basics: when digital becomes physical

Pure players (like Moussa’s example, Amazon) are latching onto this phenomenon, which may seem like a regression in the digital (and increasingly mobile) era—but is actually a potential strategy for the new digital-first paradigm.

The takeaway? Ecommerce pure-players and children of the Internet age, 2020 is the year to take a look back at your roots and consider making your products available IRL.

Even if you don’t have the budget to open a permanent brick-and-mortar storefront of your own, setting up a temporary pop-up store to test the waters (with a fairly low barrier to entry, as Forbes puts it) or getting a stand at a larger retailer’s flagship are ways to get your brand noticed on the ground—and allow you to provide click-and-collect-type services.

6. Try & buy

Think of it as the inverse of “click and collect:” rather than researching online and then going to pick up an item at a point of sale—the draw of which remains the sacrosanct physical shopping experience—the customer starts out with a physical product interaction (“try”) before returning home, or simply to their nearest smart device, to click “buy.”

While their logic may seem contrary to that of click & collect, “try & buy” practitioners are, like click-and-collectors, playing the omni-channel game. Even if the order is reversed, the try-and-buy process consists of the same two types of experience: one in-store and one online.

Getting on with the try-and-buy trend follows the same basic reasoning as offering click-and-collect services: you’re opening up further points of contact between your products and your customers.

Future-proof your store in 2020

Ecommerce success in 2020 depends, in a nutshell, on these three overarching qualities:

  • Omnicanality,
  • Flexibility,
  • and personalization.

Be omni-channel

Omnicanality is becoming the way to catch—and, more importantly, keep—ecommerce customers, by reinforcing your brand’s human relationship with them. This implies setting up shop beyond their mobile and desktop devices…

  • in person, with a brick-and-mortar presence that personifies your brand (even if it’s a temporary pop-up store) and gives customers the chance to interact hands-on with your products.
  • …in terms of your delivery and fulfillment, allowing users to place orders from anywhere, to anywhere.
  • online—it may seem obvious for a native ecommerce merchant, but, as we’ve seen, the online marketplace landscape is changing as new devices crop up in every corner of our lives. Keeping up with the Internet of Things and its consequences also entail…

Be flexible

Every good international salesperson knows to do as the Romans do, when in Rome. This means adapting your sales methods and marketing strategy to every possible customer in every country you’ve got a presence in.

This is where including various payment methods, localizing your shipping strategy, and getting on board with local social media advertising/brick-and-mortar marketing trends are all going to come into play. Essentially, do your homework, open up your options, and be prepared to provide different experiences for customers in different countries.

Last, but not least: be personal

Customers—and humans in general—are always more likely to identify with you, as both a brand and a human, if you make a concerted effort to help or speak to them. As brands in all sectors begin to take advantage of ever-renewing technology—from AI, to social data scraping, to neuro-marketing tools—there’s a new standard for customization in ecommerce, and it’s a lot higher than yesterday’s.

This is even more true when dealing with international customers. Keeping in mind each of your customers’ cultural expectations, media environment, language, and local trends—as well as interacting with them via as many channels as possible—will make your message, and product, better-adapted to them.

Being personal is where flexibility meets omni-canality, and, together, these three values can carry you to carry out your New Year’s resolutions on the Net.

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