A dog standing over a bunch of delivered packages - ecommerce trends 2020 concept
PHOTO: Unsplash/Curology

Mark Lowndes, senior director analyst, commerce technologies and experience at Gartner, delivered one of the many presentations at Modern Commerce Day 2019 in Amsterdam. Lowndes discussed the 10 ecommerce trends he’ll be keeping tabs on in 2020. We had some industry experts dive deeper into what each trend may hold for the retail and ecommerce industries. Here is what they had to say.

1. Visual Commerce

Nimish Shrivastava, CTO of Venuetize, sees visuals playing a much larger role in the future as newer capabilities emerge. “This means marrying well-produced content representing products with user-generated content, social links, 3D renderings and tools like AR,” he stated. This will be fueled, in part, by the adoption of 5G networks, which will enable the movement of larger amounts of data and visual information.

2. Personalization

According to Katie Boschele, project manager at Lucidworks, “Personalization is a key component to any ecommerce retailers’ site.” Leveraging customer data to tailor content and product offerings based on behaviors, interests and more has become a standard for B2C ecommerce companies. 

“In 2020,” added Erica Mazzucato, product marketing manager at Corra, “more and more B2B organizations that are currently going through digital transformation will increasingly use big data to solidify their relationship with buyers.” 

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3. Trust & Privacy

“Although consumers demand more and more personalization,” suggested Boschele, “they also expect privacy from the retailers they shop with.” Into 2020, retailers will need to balance hyper-personalization with building consumer trust. “When the users see barriers to getting what they want, when they want, removed without seeing any compromises, that goes a long way towards building trust,” added Shrivastava. With GDPR, CCPA and many other consumer privacy regulations coming into effect, data privacy will be a critical consideration in the future.

4. Unified Commerce

“Today’s shoppers expect a seamless transaction through all avenues of an omnichannel experience with a retailer,” said Boschele. This goes beyond multichannel marketing of the past by integrating each channel or touchpoint into a single shopping experience. “Connecting the different avenues of shopping with a retailer brings together all the facets of a customer’s journey across the entire business,” Boschele added, “and provides an exceptional customer experience.”

5. Internet of Things Commerce

There will be a proliferation of sales options on a multitude of emerging touchpoints. “With the rise of the API economy,” explained Mazzucato, “merchants will be able to leverage new constellations of touchpoints to connect with their shoppers where they are more inclined to buy.” Purchases through appliances, cars, voice devices and more will become increasingly more viable in 2020.

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6. Enterprise Marketplace

In the B2B industry, vertical marketplaces are seeing substantial growth. “With a wide range of products in hyper-specific categories and a network of specialized buyers and vendors,” explained Mazzucato, “they are able to deliver added-value services that are becoming more and more enticing for buyers.” In 2020, therefore, B2B ecommerce vendors will need strategies for differentiating themselves when their products are positioned closely to competitors’ or marketplaces.

7. Subscription Business Models

In 2020, retailers will need to tread carefully when adopting a subscription business model. “Even though the idea of guaranteed monthly revenue is enticing,” explained Mazzucato, “customers are becoming increasingly aware that subscriptions are impacting their personal finances.” As customers become more wary of subscription pricing, it’s critical that ecommerce brands consider the needs of their target audience, and whether they can truly justify another monthly plan.

8. Api-Based Commerce

There’s been an enormous surge in headless commerce in 2019, and this will likely continue into 2020. Mazzucatto sees progressive web apps (PWAs) as one of the more exciting trends that headless commerce is enabling. “PWAs provide optimized UX for mobile and offer many of the same features as native apps including lightning speed,” she explained, “which will be instrumental in closing the mobile conversion gap in 2020.” Retailers that want freedom over their tech stack will likely move towards headless solutions in the near future.

9. Customer Analytics

Retailers have an overwhelming amount of data at their disposal. “Point of sale system (POS) data still remains a largely untapped opportunity for merchants to access insights into customer preferences and demographics,” said Mazzucato. In 2020, there will be a massive shift from simply reporting what happened to using predictive analytics to inform campaigns and drive future product strategies. With all this data, however, organizations will need to use caution when dealing with private customer information.

10. Artificial Intelligence

Mazzucato believes organizations have been intimidated by the idea of artificial intelligence (AI), but in reality it’s already embedded in many of today’s platforms and commerce technologies. In 2020, many retailers will see the value and relative simplicity of leveraging AI-powered solutions. Mazzucto continued, “Selecting the right technology stack is instrumental in harnessing the power of machine learning to increase productivity and discover patterns in behavioral data.”