Technology changes so fast. If you cannot keep up with the pace, you will be left behind. There was a time when the only thing sellers could do was to list their products in eBay. Then companies like Shopify and WordPress changed this. Now, it is easy to build your own online store.
But technology does not stop there. If you can build your online store now on your own, surely there are other developments that will become the trend this coming 2020. So, check out the top nine in our list so you can start planning ahead of the game.
Without a doubt, chat is the new way to communicate. It has taken over phone calls and text message. Today, nobody is going to give you a phone call. Instead, customers will chat you. However, you cannot expect customers to start the chat.
You must have a chatbot that will start the conversation. A chatbot is a robot that automatically pops-up whenever a customer is on your website. You can add a photo of yourself in the chat logo, or a photo of your company. What’s important is that it is branded or that the customer can see something that will make your site credible.
Without a doubt, chatbots will become the next big thing. Surveys found out that about 53% of companies are planning to use chatbots on their websites. So, why is it a big deal, and why will it become a trend in 2020?
Chatbots will be a part of the e-commerce industry for the following benefits:
- Real-time presence – these chatbots are present on your website all the time. You do not have to manage it yourself, and you do not have to hire an employee to wait for customer inquiries
- Customer support anytime – the chatbots are programmed to answer customer inquiries. You can also use chatbots that have pre-set questions that customers can select. You can then program the answers to these questions
- Proactive customer support – the chatbot can pop-up automatically and encourage your customer to ask a question. If a customer sees this, he will feel important and cared for, therefore increasing your conversion.
- Gather insights – chatbots can gather data about your customers, especially about their concerns and questions. The data will help you decide which products need improvement in terms of presentation, which ones to remove, and so much more.
- Save on the cost of employment – if you hire an employee, you need at least three people to cover 24 hours of your website operation. But you need more than that because all three need a rest day, too. With a chatbot, you do not have to pay employees. You only need to pay a subscription fee or a one-time fee.
Chatbots will become more advanced as time goes by. And as they do, the robots will take charge of customer service, ensuring standard customer interaction across the board.
2. Video marketing
Video is now taking over blogs and any type of written material. Consumers find it easier to understand product concepts on video, and they want to see a demonstration of what they are buying.
The main problem with video today is that it is difficult to make one. You need to learn how to shoot, edit, and dub the sound to the video.
Statistics show that 55% of people watch a video every day online. 90% of consumers think that videos are better in showcasing products than blogs. On Facebook alone, there are over 8 billion video views every day. Videos can help you increase your conversion rate by 80%.
If you want to keep up with the trends of 2020, you have to invest in video marketing. What you need to do also is to create live video streaming that your fans can follow and watch. If it is live, then they know that you are a real person, and this will add credibility to you.
Here are the other benefits of videos to e-commerce:
- Boost page ranking in search engines
- Improve conversion rate
- Consumers find videos easier to understand
- Improve clicks and shares
- Consumers will find it entertaining, and they can make impulse-purchases
- Improve credibility and trust
- Create a virtual demonstration of the product
- Fewer product returns
If a customer saw how the product works in action, he is less likely to ask for a refund and also less likely to return the product, the reason behind this is that he will not feel that he was taken advantage of, which commonly happens if they bought an item with pictures only.
3. Email checkout
Today, most people think of emails as just another way to market products. Businesspersons use email for subscriptions, but they do not know yet that they can use email as a way for a customer to checkout and complete the purchase.
The other form of email checkout is email shopping. It is a new trend that will sweep 2020 because customers who use their mobile devices can now shop for products within their email.
On the email checkout, the Buy button is now embedded on the email. If a customer clicks on that, he will be taken to the checkout page, and then complete the purchase. It is so much easier to sell this way because you are simply reminding the customer to complete his purchase.
Here are the benefits of using this feature and why it makes sense to use it in 2020:
- Recover abandoned checkouts
- Create interactive quizzes and surveys in the email body
- Easy checkout inside the email body
- Data gathering is easier since you know who purchased which items
If you are interested in this, you have to check RebelMail. It is a start-up company that introduced this kind of technology. It is called interactive mail, and the founders thought that if we can send follow-up emails to the consumer, why not let them checkout or shop from the email itself?
Originally, Rebel Mail simply wanted to make email newsletters look better. Apart from that innovation, the founders wanted the business persons to be able to track how the email recipients, or the customers, behave or interact with these emails.
With this kind of email service, you can roll your email marketing campaign, cart abandonment strategy, and conversion rate efforts, into one.
4. Expansion of fulfillment centers
A fulfilment center is a warehouse. You send your goods to this warehouse, and once they receive your items, they will catalog your goods. After that, you can now sell your items on the platform, and once an order is placed, the warehouse group will take care of shipping the item.
For a long time, it was only Amazon doing it. The service is called FBA or fulfilment by Amazon. In 2019, Shopify announced that it would create several fulfilment centers in the United States.
With a company like Shopify ready to battle a giant like Amazon, other companies will surely follow this footstep, and then it will become a trend.
The thing about fulfilment centers is that the seller has to pay for the rent of the space where the products are stored. In exchange, he does not have to worry about shipping the items himself. This is exciting, as more fulfilment centers can mean less expense on handling and shipping fees.
Here are the benefits of using a fulfilment center:
- Lower shipping costs
- Better logistics
- Extended reach
- Improved customer service
- Easier to track orders
- Better facilities and fast order fulfilment
- More time for marketing
Fulfilment centers have a special arrangement with shippers. They pay lesser than the average individual because they ship thousands of items per day. Because of this discount, you will also pay less, and your customers will also pay less in shipping.
The logistics, or the actual movement of the product, is also better because they have employees who are experts in this. And because they have a special arrangement with shippers like FedEx or DHL, you can expand your reach and ship internationally.
If you do this on your own, you are not likely to make a sale because you may charge more money for shipping than the actual cost of the product.
5. Second-hand market
What is the second-hand market? It simply means pre-loved items or used goods. This is going to be a trend in 2020 as people realize that not all used goods are bad.
In fact, eBay started out as a place where you can sell second-hand goods. eBay made a lot of money from that model until it became a place where brand new items are also for sale.
Today, selling second-hand goods is making a comeback, and you will typically see this in websites selling second-hand mobile devices. The common practice now is for companies to buy second-hand items, refurbish them, and then sell them online.
So, how will you benefit from this trend? You can either sell these products on your website or do the repairs yourself. If you choose the first one, you can either sell as a dropshipper, or earn commissions as an affiliate.
If you do the second one, you need to invest money buying second-hand goods, repairing them, and then selling them.
Here are some things you need to know about the second-hand market:
- It is easier to sell second-hand goods because the prices are lower
- You are helping the world by recycling items instead of putting them in the junk pile
- If you sell an item previously owned by an actor or actress, you will be amazed at how fast it is going to sell; this is the same with branded clothing
- You are not limited to selling refurbished smartphones; you can sell used books, cars, bicycles, and so much more
The second-hand market is huge. In China, this market has generated 1.9 million users, and more than 80,000 transactions were completed. This market has also generated $29 billion in 2019.
6. Social commerce
Social commerce refers to selling online by using social media sites. There was a time when Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook launched a buy button on their sites. For some reason, they took it off.
But that is not an issue, as you can still sell products on social media without the buy button. Instagram has long been known to be a place where the Instagram star can sell products to his or her followers. Today, Facebook is expanding its operations with the Facebook Marketplace.
Like eBay, you can post your items online, and Facebook will take care of showing it to users who are close to your area. As of now, you can only sell physical goods. You cannot sell food or digital items, but this is ok. Surely, Facebook will allow these items soon.
You can even create your own Facebook Shop. Listing products is free, but there is still no checkout system on Facebook. Despite that, there are many sellers and businesses that rely on social media to make a sale. It is easier to have social proof in social media than building your own website.
Here are the benefits of using the power of social commerce:
- It is free to use
- High engagement from users
- Consistent user growth
- High ranking on search engine
- The social media algorithm will automatically show your products to people within your area or country
- You do not need to advertise your product that much.
Since Facebook and other social media sites have no other way but to grow their user base, you will be able to take advantage of this growing traffic. Even if some people become inactive, they will be replaced with a new breed of young people.
7. Drone delivery
If you think this is just a concept, then you are making a mistake. Advanced trials are now happening, and the leader in this is Wing, a part of the Google group. Amazon is also one of the leaders of this technology, and we can see that once this gets approved by lawmakers, it will easily become a trend.
What is drone delivery? It is the use of small aircraft without a pilot to deliver goods to your doorstep. The person controlling the drone is seated comfortably in an office somewhere, or it can be on full auto-pilot mode.
This technology is important to a company like Amazon because it will significantly reduce its shipping costs. Even the United Parcel Service or UPS already got an approval from the FAA for its drone fleet. The technology is now working, and it only needs little polishing.
If this becomes a trend, it will have an impact on your online business. The only way to go is to use this service yourself. The thing that is likely to happen is that fulfilment centers will go away. Instead, these fulfillment centers will house drones.
Once an order is placed, the drone can drop by your house, pick up your package, and then deliver it. Since the drone flies in the air, delivery will be faster as there is no traffic, and it does not have to stop at every house.
Here are the benefits of drone delivery that will make it a global trend by 2020:
- Reduced road congestion
- Faster delivery time
- No pollution
- Reduced delivery cost
Since drones fly in the air, there surely will be laws around it. But if they start delivering, there will be no need to use a land-based delivery system like vans. And because they are not subject to heavy land traffic, the parcels will arrive faster.
Drones are battery-operated. They do not use fuel, and this will contribute greatly to the environment and reduce pollution. The drones also do not need individual pilots, which means no person has to deliver the product. If there are fewer employees in a logistics company, then the cost of the service will also get lower.
Dropshipping is one of the most popular business models today. It is easy, and all you have to do is to list the products of the manufacturer on your website. If an order is placed, the supplier will take care of shipping it to the consumer.
Now, these same suppliers may cut you, the middle man, from the picture. If they do, this business model is called direct-to-consumer. It is happening now, and the best example of this is Alibaba and AliExpress.
This is not to say that dropshipping will go away. After all, not all manufacturers are good marketers. Many of them also do not want the headache of maintaining a website. All they want is to post their products on AliExpress and Alibaba and wait for dropshippers to pick their products.
This is expected to become a trend, though, and it is likely that only the big companies will get involved. For example, you got Casper, a bed maker that sells its products online and ships the product directly to the consumer. You are not likely to find any Casper mattress in a big box store.
Here are the reasons why direct-to-consumer business is going to boom:
- No middle man; the manufacturer keeps all the profits
- Exclusivity; the product is not available elsewhere
- Quality control; since there is no middle man, each product is not subject to wear and tear or mishandling
Now, while this may sound alarming, it really isn’t. This can actually be great for you. If a company begins to do this model, also called D2C, then it is likely that they need marketers who will bring traffic and revenue to their website.
And this is where you can come in. You can sell the company’s product either as a dropshipper or as an affiliate marketer. Either way, you will earn a commission.
9. Online and offline sales
Online selling is easy to understand, but offline? The offline sale does not refer to putting up a brick-and-mortar business. It simply means you can charge your consumers offline, and then the sales will be recorded in your online selling software.
Why is this going to be a trend? Many people today sell products where they do not keep the inventory. The problem with many platforms is that a customer has to be on the website before he can order. After the order, that is the only time the seller can buy the product from a supplier, and then complete the process.
But what if you can sell to your friends and they do not have to log-in? This is called offline selling. In this method, you talk to people in person, whip out your smartphone, and let them pay through the offline software.
By the time you get back online, you can process the order, and the person you sold it to simply has to wait for the product to arrive.
Here are the benefits of offline selling:
- Process credit card payments even if the buyer is not a registered user
- Sell every time there is an opportunity
- Charge cards even if there is no internet, then process the charges later
- You have more credibility since you are facing the buyer in person
Offline selling is now available on Shopify and other platforms like Square. To be able to use it, you have to download and install the software, and also become a subscriber. Most of the time, this software is called POS or point-of-sale software.
2020 is going to be an exciting year. As a business person, you need to keep an eye out for upcoming trends and if possible, be the first one to use these trends to your advantage. The best course of action is to get started learning now about these nine big trends in 2020, and then take a look at how you can use this for your business.
Remember, the bottom line here is that you want to increase your conversion rate. Not all of these are applicable to your business. Choose only the best for you. For example, there is no need to learn about drones if you are a dropshipper with no inventory, but it is important if you make and keep your own goods.