What will the most important eCommerce trends of 2020 and beyond be? That’s the question that we put to our team of experts, who between them have an incredible amount of experience of advising brands on successful eCommerce strategies.
Companies selling their products online are not only facing increased competition but also have to decide which eCommerce trends are likely to help them gain a competitive edge.
Online shoppers are expecting more and more of their experiences, and brands therefore need to rapidly harness technologies and eCommerce trends that will allow them to keep pace with — and even shape — customer behaviours.
But which eCommerce trends will be the winners?
Barely a day goes by when you don’t hear something or other about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will change our lives in the future. 
AI already plays a huge part in eCommerce, from highly personalised recommendations to visual search. And the AI trend is set to continue at a rapid pace in 2020 and beyond. Gartner , for instance, predicts that, in 2020, a staggering 85 percent of customer interactions will be managed without human involvement.
Thanks to Big Data and ever-advancing machine learning, AI is giving eRetailers the power to offer up product suggestions based on actual user behaviours — increasingly in real-time.
Netflix is a great example of how AI can be used to retain customer loyalty by recommending new shows to its users on the basis of series or films that they’ve previously watched. 
And many eCommerce players are doing likewise in order to give consumers exactly what they’re looking for when shopping, with AI becoming an ever-more useful personal assistant operating through your mobile or wearable device.
The next big thing, of course, is Voice Commerce, whereby shoppers can search for and buy products — four times quicker than they can by typing — via voice assistants while driving or multitasking.
Big Data is another one of those formerly ‘buzzy’ trends or hot topics that is now demonstrating huge tangible benefits to online retailers that want to understand more about their customers and potential markets.
Big Data is central to any Digital Transformation. Technologies like AI and IoT (Internet of Things) are tethered to — and reliant upon — vast and increasingly complex sets of data that help them learn consumer behaviours.
Big Data has a huge part to play in generating considerably more sales for any eCommerce business. 
It can use algorithms to forecast trends and suggest to online retailers what the next best-selling products will be, allowing them to get ahead of the competition (and make your ordering processes far more efficient).
It can help create increasingly personalised product recommendations and shopper experiences. Enhanced consumer experiences can, in turn, lead to a huge reduction in the literally trillions of dollars forfeited to cart abandonment. 
Other benefits of Big Data include allowing you to optimise prices at the right times, and creating efficiencies across all your operations.
So, if your eCommerce business isn’t properly investing in Big Data, it’s basically trying to drive a sports car which has had its engine replaced with one from a family saloon car.
Security is of paramount importance to eCommerce success , and will have to become even more so with the widespread adoption of new technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT that can become big targets for cyber attacks and regular data breaches.
And there’s the elephant in the room — privacy. We’ve written before about how Chinese culture views the concept of privacy with suspicion, but Western culture and governments — and their existing laws — see it very differently.
How comfortable are people in Western culture with the idea of companies knowing everything about them? Or with biometric verification, like fingerprint and face scanners? It will be interesting to see how that plays out, especially if those technologies are abused for scams.
GDPR has quite rightly made companies in Europe clean up their act in terms of data privacy and use, and eCommerce platforms will have to do much more over the next decade to ensure greater security for online shoppers — and themselves.
With all the time that people spend on social media (142 minutes per day, on average)  and the more comfortable they become with the idea of asking friends and strangers (little people in their phones) for product or service recommendations, it’s only natural that online retailers should spot the opportunity to sell to consumers through social.
Social media users are happy to consume content from their favourite brands and interact with them, as well as to search for new products via these channels. And now, because of transactional capabilities being built into social media platforms, the opportunities for brands to tempt their social media fans into shopping are too great to resist.
As our CEO and Founder Luigi Matrone demonstrated in his article China as the trendsetter for the digital economy, China is, of course, leading the way, with 92 percent of retailers in Asia believing that social commerce is vital to their business growth.
And the US has cottoned on very quickly, with one-third of adults already believed to shop through social media.
Facebook Marketplace, Instagram and Snapchat have all introduced eCommerce features directly within their platforms and held their customers there. 
With worldwide social media user numbers expected to grow to 3.1 billion in 2021, we can definitely expect more social media providers to enable shopping directly on their platforms.
If you have a smartphone, you’ll be familiar with mobile wallets and how comfortable people are with paying for products (the first coffee of the day from Starbucks, for instance) with them by tapping on the sensors at the till.
As mobile technologies mature and users grow comfortable with them, consumers are more willing to trust payments operated by mobile devices.
People in the West are very happy to use Apple Pay and Android Pay, while GrabPay and WeChat Pay are used right across Asia.
We’re only set to see innovations in mobile payment continue, and shoppers become more accustomed to using them. The opportunities this trend represents for online retailers are therefore virtually limitless.
These are incredibly exciting times for online retailers, as shopping online becomes increasingly natural to people and online transactions continue to reach incredible new levels (the online shopping market size is predicted to hit 4 trillion in 2020). 
The competition for your potential customers, though, is fierce and comes from unexpected sources.
As with anything, it’s important to not only be aware of forthcoming eCommerce trends but to understand which ones will have the most impact. And, once you have a good grasp of them, create an operational and commercial advantage for your business.
We would recommend a lean, ‘test and learn’ approach to adopting these eCommerce trends, introducing them little-by-little, in an evolutionary way, rather than trying to throw all your efforts at them at once in the hope that they might quickly pay off. If you want to learn more, please do contact us so that our team of eCommerce experts can advise you.
This article was written and created by the eBusiness Institute Team, with expert input from our consultants.
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Originally published at https://ebusinessinstitute.com on February 5, 2020.