From AI to marketplaces we’ve covered a lot of ground. Our own research and immersion in the eCom industry has led to us identifying 7 eCommerce marketing trends for 2020 that should be on your radar. Top retailers are already integrating these trends into their eCommerce strategies, so don’t get left behind.
#1 Selling On Social Media Will Be As Important As Selling On Marketplaces
With more social platforms taking steps into online commerce it’s no surprise that social media selling makes the list of eCommerce marketing trends for 2020.
Back in 2015, Facebook launched their digital storefronts. In 2017 Pinterest launched ‘Shop the Look’ pins. In 2016 Instagram started experimenting with their shopping feature. Following that, shoppable Instagram stories started being tested in June 2019.
UPDATE: In May 2020 Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Page Shops.
There are many social media platforms to navigate, each appealing to different demographics and user types.
Platform choice is key if you’re planning a move into social media commerce in 2020 but Facebook seems to be the platform of choice with 80% of orders placed on social media coming from Facebook.
Customer profiles and market research will tell you the sites your customers are using and how to reach them. After that it’s about the quality of your marketing material and perfecting your social media messages.
You need to be at the top of your game to sell effectively on social media. Instagram for example is purely image and video-based. So, if your product photos aren’t up to scratch it’s unlikely you are going to be causing any waves.
If you’re marketing to digital natives then great visual content becomes even more important. Cutting through the already crowded feed of your target market takes more than just posting daily. Check out this great post by Social Marketing Writing covering how to sell products on Instagram.
Running campaigns across multiple social platforms requires consistency. Consistency builds trust and helps to strengthen a brand. To increase awareness and spark recognition it’s vital to have a strong brand that follows strict brand guidelines.
Having a central system for marketing campaign information like product names, photos, prices and descriptions ensure brand image and product messaging is always on-brand for every channel.
#2 Video and Live Posts Will Catapult Your Social Strategy
At the heart of social media is engagement. Social media is a great way to drive awareness of your brand and eCommerce website. It’s also great for engaging with customers in a more informal manner.
Social media platforms want users to spend as much time using their platform as possible. One of the key trends of 2019, that will certainly continue as one of the top 2020 eCommerce trends, is the success of video posts and live video streams on social media.
Quite simply, videos keep people engaged for longer on social platforms vs text posts and images which is what the social media networks are ultimately striving for.
There have been plenty of tests and announcements proving video gets prioritised in social media feeds too.
Twitter states that “tweets with video attracted 10x more engagements than tweets without video.”
Facebook also publicly announced in May 2019 that original videos that engage viewers for over 1 minute will get priority news feed distribution. This is also true of videos that get repeat views.
When the social platforms make these announcements we should all listen. Video must be part of your 2020 social strategy. If you don’t use it you risk drowning in a sea of static, lifeless content which ultimately impacts your brand reputation and eCommerce sales.
As if you needed any more convincing, Wyzowl found that 85% of marketers using video as part of their social media strategy found it to be highly effective.
When creating video content one key factor is sound on/sound off. Bear in mind that as many as 85% of videos on social are viewed with the sound off. The use of graphics in a video is therefore vital for capturing viewers and keeping them engaged.
Videos should be uploaded to the platform directly rather than being posted via a link to YouTube or Vimeo. Native videos give you better analytics and better visibility in the news feed.
#3 AI Will Become an Unquestionable Point of Difference
AI in eCommerce is well worth noting as an eCommerce marketing trend for 2020. We attended a lot of eCommerce trade shows in 2019 including the eCom Show North and eCommerce Expo. These trade shows provide insider insight on the key market players and emerging technologies.
AI tech was hard to miss at the shows but a solution called Klevu caught our eye. Using a stunning range of AI fuelled features Klevu enhances the online CX using AI. Personalised search, for example is one of their key search-based features. It allows retailers to promote products to customers that they have previously interacted with.
Trending searches is another great feature. Here, customers are prompted with words from popular and trending searches as they search the site. An incredibly useful tool particularly in the fashion industry where it’s crucial for brands to identify and capitalise on trends.
For AI to be a truly successful component in your online strategy you must be delivering what the customer wants in the first place. When shopping online, that’s product information and an original shopping experience.
AI can be used very effectively to help deliver this. AI reporting can identify incomplete product information and mistakes which lead to dissatisfied and skeptical customers. Identifying and fixing issues like these go a long way towards delivering a superior buying experience.
This is further confirmed in an article on Harvard Business Review. It states that the biggest factor in online purchase decision making is how easily customers can gather trustworthy information about the product they intend to purchase. This was also a key factor in getting customers to buy the product repeatedly and recommend it to others.
#4 Millennial B2B Buyers Will Expect a B2C eCommerce Experience
As millennials move into positions of power, the requirements of B2B shopping are changing. The expectation is largely that B2B purchasing experiences should be very similar to, if not the same as B2C buying experiences.
In practice, this means eCommerce websites that are easy to navigate, a simple and straightforward checkout and a personalised experience. This directly relates to pricing, available product ranges, discounts and shipping.
When thinking about B2B eCommerce website design, user experience should be at the forefront of the process. Specky Boy helpfully lists 3 common eCommerce UI trends that eCommerce loves but should hate. It’s easy to design a site that looks stunning but doesn’t convert users because the customer journey hasn’t been thought out properly.
Also important is not underestimating the importance of mobile in the B2B buying journey. During the buying process, the majority of workers use their mobile device.
Of the 80% of workers using a mobile device for work, a staggering 60% use one during the purchase of a work-related product.
This was either during the research stage or to make the final purchase. During 2020 the use of mobile for making online B2B enquiries is set to grow from two hours to three hours per day according to a new Google report.
#5 Marketplaces Will Continue To Drive the Future of Online Commerce
A shift in the platforms B2B buyers are using is worth noting too. It’s common to see new technology and ideas breaking ground in B2C before being adopted in B2B. This is happening with marketplaces, just see Amazon Business. That makes B2C and B2B marketplaces a key e-commerce marketing trend for 2020.
One marketplace platform we met at the eCommerce Expo in London was Mirakl. This innovative marketplace solution allows retailers to create their own marketplaces. Using the marketplace that the retailer has created, consumers can purchase products from other brands as well as the retailer’s own brand. The idea is that the marketplace becomes a ‘one-stop-shop’ where buyers get everything they need.
The significance of marketplace growth is that businesses must explore a multi-channel strategy.
Selling goods on your own website is no longer enough to compete effectively. There are pros and cons to listing your products on marketplaces. However, remember that there are many more than just Amazon and eBay. Research will help to uncover specific marketplaces in your industry or niche.
For those with a large number of products, multi-channel can be a challenge. This is especially true of those without a system to manage and distribute products to different channels.
A centralised system that holds your product information will sure up and simplify what are often complicated, repetitive and lengthy processes. Having a system like this in place means data can be segmented for different channels and distributed effectively. This ensures accurate and complete information is delivered to buyers at every touchpoint.
#6 eCommerce Localisation Will Be More Important Than Ever
The rise of eCommerce has made cross border commerce accessible to millions of businesses. A key challenge highlighted by business leaders in a report just released by Retail Touchpoints is managing product information across multiple markets.
The report says that ensuring product content is suitable for use globally and in local markets can cause headaches.
Leaders operating global businesses with an eCommerce channel will be all too familiar with this problem. Language and translation are the more obvious issues facing global online sellers. However, beyond that there are a whole list of attributes that need to be checked and localised. Pricing and currency, weights and measures, product names and images are just a few.
The value of purchases made by customers from vendors outside their home country is set to increase by nearly 50% to $5 trillion in 2021.
There’s clearly huge opportunity to grow by implementing a well-planned global strategy. An important starting point is defining the systems and processes that will allow you to seize this opportunity.
Multi-sites for different countries and a way to easily localise and distribute product information are fundamental. Without these, the process will likely be time-consuming, stressful and more likely to fail.
#7 Businesses Regularly Reviewing SEO Will Stand Out
Many business leaders selling online understand the importance of Search Engine Optimization. However, it’s still common to hear leaders say that SEO is a one time or once a year activity i.e. not a priority. This view is simply incorrect. It’s a dangerous way to pursue an SEO strategy.
Google changes its algorithms all the time, every day in fact. They also release big updates and publish details of what’s changed and how this might impact positions in the SERPs. Google also release details of some factors that impact where a website will rank.
As experts, your SEO team should know about these and should be constantly making tweaks and changes. Using a specialised digital marketing agency is highly advisable for businesses that don’t have a dedicated SEO team.
To get a site noticed and ranked well on Google still requires creating high-quality content as a fundamental activity. Places that high-quality content can be used on your website include your blog, main website pages and product pages.
Creating high-quality content also gives you material to chunk up and use in your social media content calendar.
For eCommerce websites specifically, crafting unique and detailed product descriptions will help you to increase website conversions. If you’re offering the same information as your competitors or copy and paste information from suppliers, you’re not delivering the personalised and original online experience your customers crave. Fresh and exciting content will help you to drive sales and increase customer loyalty.
In addition, Google isn’t a fan of duplicate website content. This includes descriptions that are copied directly from a supplier’s website. Although it may only be a small factor in where your website ranks, it’s another reason why creating bespoke product descriptions, product titles and product images are crucial for stand-out SEO. It also helps you stand out from competitors and deliver a superior customer experience.
It’s your responsibility as a leader to keep your team updated on the latest eCommerce trends. This ensures best practices are followed when it comes to activities like SEO and social media. It also means you satisfy changing customer needs and stay ahead of the competition.
These 7 eCommerce marketing trends for 2020 should be on your radar, if not in your marketing strategy. Failing to identify trends leads to desperate tactical activities, a race to catch up and ultimately declining sales. How many of these 2020 eCommerce trends have you identified and included in your marketing strategy?