5 Must-Know Ecommerce Trends for 2020 [Updated September 2020]

Casey Hill

In 2020 anyone on the planet can create and sell their own products through platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce. But if you want to compete and stay ahead of your competitors you need to know the latest trends in the space.

In this article we break down the five biggest Ecommerce trends you need to know in 2020. Number 4 is going to be huge, so get on it early.

Ecommerce trend #1: Subscription options dominate

Only a few short decades ago, we saw the first eCommerce giants, like Amazon, begin to emerge. The early 2000’s saw a transformation in how consumers bought products, with eCommerce as an industry growing as buyers explored this new option of buying goods on the internet.

Then, gaining massive momentum around 2015 we saw a new industry transformation: The rise of eCommerce subscriptions. As other industries began to open consumers' eyes to recurring billing (think streaming with Netflix or month-to-month payments for apps), there was a nearly 3000% increase in traffic to subscription eCommerce pages.

Source: Shopify

In the past few years McKinsey notes that the percentage of americans with at least 1 eCommerce subscription has gone from near zero to over 15%. This change is revolutionizing the industry, leading to substantially higher CLTV (Customer Lifetime Values) and revenues for eCommerce businesses. 

The change also presents an added convenience for consumers, who can now get both their essentials (like toilet paper or food) and their favorite merchandise delivered with regularity straight to their doors. 

While eCommerce is experiencing strong growth overall as an industry (picking up slack for lagging retail performance due to COVID-19), it is the companies who are adapting to this new model that will see the most long-term, scalable growth. The blueprint, seen in the software industry when it transitioned to SaaS (Software as a Service) and video rentals space show the transformative impact of recurring revenues. 

While it is true the impact of a subscription option can be transformative, it is also important to be aware of a common pitfall. Because consumers today expect subscriptions to be a flat price, say $20/month, it is incumbent on the brand to absorb shipping into their pricing model (unlike 1-time purchases where the expectation by consumers  is still to pay for shipping after the product cost). As you set up your pricing structure for your product, remember to keep this factor in mind so you can charge a rate that will allow you to grow.

Ecommerce Trend #2: Website personalization ups conversions

The eCommerce world had firmly landed on a conclusion: personalization works. The better you cater to a customer’s specific needs, the more likely it is that that customer will buy from you (about 20% more likely according to CoreDNA). And it just makes sense. If I go to a website like Vuori to buy clothing, they want to know if I am male or female.

Why? Because it allows them to have far more targeted email marketing campaigns with much better CTRs (Click Through Rates). Invespcro investigated personalized vs. generic email follow-up and newsletter campaigns from brands and found the personalized messaging got 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates. So one wise idea is to ask for bits of demographic information via a pop-up or discount offer on the website.

Connected to that, automatically redirecting your customer after filling out a brief form or survey to targeted landing pages around specific, relevant clothing offers is another wise choice. If you want to be particularly bold, you can even pixel users and when they return, show them content that is similar to what they were viewing before. Opt-in monster shows a guide on how to do this here.

Overall, the website experience should be simple and easy to navigate for the consumer vs. cluttered with lots of often irrelevant options. Adapting to customer behavior and serving up a more personal, tailored experience is a theme around the new changes eCommerce is seeing in 2020. 

Ecommerce Trend #3: Chatbots see a rise

Most of us have experienced a chatbot in some capacity. Sometimes we need help with an issue so we click a button on a website and a customer support chat window pops up. Sometimes we have questions when we are on a sales page and we reach out to get clarifications. Certain companies even proactively reach out via their chatbots while you are browsing the site to see if they can help!

However they do it, the one thing that is clear is that chat bots aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they continue to see nearly 30% YoY growth. The growth of chatbots coincides with the movement of eCommerce which is towards more transparency, personalization and human touch, despite scale.

Source: Tidio 

But why should you care about chatbots? Well, they can:

  • Reduce customer wait time
  • Increase on-site conversions
  • Improve your customer experience

Access to chatbots today is also easy. There are dozens of options for chatbot tools today including:

  • Intercom
  • Drift
  • Facebook Messenger Bot
  • Tidio
  • Freshchat
  • Chatbot
  • Manychat

Some chatbots are connected to larger systems, like intercom, and others are simply stand-alone products like Manychat. As well, some chatbots have extensive AI capabilities where you can pre-program loads of responses and others are meant to be manned by human support staff. What is best for you will just depend on your business side and current hurdles

The core reason chatbots are so essential to eCommerce today is because they allow businesses to quickly answer questions and remove roadblocks to a purchase. Imagine you have a customer who wants clarification around a product you sell. Sure you can build an FAQ or have people dig around your site to find answers, but that is a hassle for your customer and many people simply won’t take the time. This is where a chatbot can be a great customer asset. 

Allow them to message you on an order page and get their questions answered and you will see a noticeable jump in conversions. It’s also an opportunity for your team to show excitement and energy around getting the new customer on board. 

As customers expectations evolve and more and more customers become accustomed to receiving support this way, it becomes increasingly essential for businesses to adopt this type of technology.

Ecommerce Trend #4: Personal Video changes how brands communicate

I want you to imagine, that you just bought a bag of coffee from a new roaster and then suddenly the next day you get an email that links you out to this (click the image to watch video):

A personal video email from the company you did business with (this isn’t automated, they actually made this video specifically for you), that shows you the product first hand and gives you that personal, direct experience that stands out. It’s pretty remarkable.

According to data from Harvard Business Review personal video is getting nearly double the open and engagement rates of standard text emails. Engagement is the pathway to getting customers who buy into your upsells, leave reviews and come back to buy more products, so this is critical. 

Much like voice and AI technologies, personal video emails are a fairly recent phenomenon that has burst onto the scene in just the last few years. Customers today are inundated in their inboxes with newsletters, pitches and sales emails and it can all start to blend together. Many ISPs like Gmail, simply filter much of these correspondences to “Promotions” folders never to be seen again. 

Personal videos, because they are 1:1, avoid these pitfalls and arrive in the inbox in a way that cuts through the noise. When eCommerce stores start to see email open and engagement rates upwards of 50%, that is an exciting divergence from the norm.

So where can personal emails be used for an eCommerce company?

  • Thanking new customers and inviting them to join your social communities
  • Upselling or cross selling customers
  • Educate customers on new options (like starting a subscription to save money)
  • Asking customer for review

--> Learn how to send these videos yourself in our Ecommerce Video Funnel Playbook here <--

Based on the video above you likely noticed a few aspects of why video is effective. It allows you to leverage body language, tone and facial expressions to connect with customers in a human way. This type of communication triggers our brains' mirror neurons, which are programmed to emulate emotion that we see (like why you feel emotional seeing your friend get married, or excited when your kid gets into a great college).

In a world of information overload, taking a step back and making sure your brand has the human touch is essential. Automate processes, but never relationships.

Ecommerce Trend #5: Mobile responsive design is a must

According to data from Business 2 Community, over 60% of the visits to our eCommerce stores now come from mobile phones. During holiday shopping periods like Black Friday, mobile sales are now nearly doubling desktop sales.

Source: Shopify Mobile Data

Your website being easy to navigate on mobile is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity if you don’t want to lose out on sales. Your page needs to load fast and have elements and text that load neatly. A great way to check your mobile responsiveness is a free tool from google through Google Page Insights. If your mobile score is below 50, make sure you follow the advice Google provides and minify your content, reduce image sizes, employ caching etc.

The following pieces of advice from unbounce are valuable rules of thumb when designing out your mobile page:

Optimize your tag-line and mobile first look:

Users tend to spend less time on pages while on their mobile devices than their desktops. Make sure the critically important information on your page shows up in that first view via mobile.

Use a CTA button:

Whenever you are designing a page it is critical to look at the “ideal customer experience”. In other words, if the customers does everything intended, where are you trying to direct them? Is it to hop on a call with you? Buy your product? Join your mailing list? Have a firm idea of what the goals of your page are and then have a clear CTA (Call to Action) button so that shoppers can see your content and then be led to a decision point. 

Optimize your load time:

Your page needs to load fast or you will lose visitors. According to Section, if your page takes 7 seconds to load you are losing over 30% of your traffic from bounces. 

Source: Section

When it comes to improving page load time, here are some tips:

Minify/Compress File Sizes:

A common reason for a page's slow load time is because it has to load lots of dynamic content or large file size images. If you use WordPress you can download lots of plug-ins to help with file compression: https://wordpress.org/plugins/search/file+compress/. Regardless of your CMS you can still use free tools online like: https://tinypng.com/ or https://compressjpeg.com/ to compress your image sizes. You can use plug-ins on WP like WP Rocket to help with minifying content.

Use Browser Caching:

Caching is described well by Winning WP, “When you visit a website, you don’t just need to retrieve the content of the page you’re seeing — you also need a bunch of resources such as Javascript files, stylesheets, fonts and so on, which your browser downloads in addition to the content of the page.

Browser caching allows your browser to store these files for a while, so it doesn’t need to retrieve them every time you visit the site.” In other words, instead of waiting for everything to load at once before the page displays, it will throw up a workable version of the site first, letting the visitor start browsing while it works to retrieve the more time intensive bits later. There are lots of plugins to help with caching.

Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network):

A CDN is a “a geographically distributed group of servers which work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content.” This is critical if you sell globally, as you might have great load times in the US but awful load times in Australia or Europe. Using a platform like Cloudflare (that has free options), you can set up a CDN and increase your global load times. 

One thing we can know for certain is that eCommerce will continue to dynamically evolve and change over the next few years. As voice technology, AI and video continue to reach mainstream prominence, they will become increasingly influential in the buyer journey.

 As 5G technology becomes the new norm, expect an explosion of mobile usage, mobile buying and mobile communications. 

As shipping and logistics become more and more streamlined, expect a larger global audience from brands that currently sell primarily domestically. 

Expect technologies like AR (Augmented Reality) where you can see items in your house virtually via your phone to become commonplace. 

The way customers buy and engage is constantly changing and it's imperative that all of us continue to adapt and stay on the cutting edge to maximize the efficiency of our eCommerce businesses.

Growth tips
About the author
Casey Hill
Growth Manager
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