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6 New Online Shopping Trends & Forecasts for 2020 to Watch Out For

Category: B2B News

Competitive pricing, ultimate convenience and fast delivery are fueling the blistering growth of online shopping. For this, many well-known brands paid the price. Yet the signs show that these new breed of businesses are just starting. Hence it pays to know where these online shopping trends are heading.

This is true no matter if you’re the intrepid entrepreneur breaking new grounds in this exciting industry or you are the new avid fan of online vendors.

We are actively watching where the future trends in online shopping are heading to provide you the essential signposts that you should not miss. Below we list the ones we believe should top your list. With the big picture on the goings-on in the online shopping space, you can plan your strategy more meaningfully.

online shopping report

It’s hard to blame online sellers who think they own the world by the palm of their hands. In the first place, their main man is now the richest person in the world, showing distinctly what lies ahead for many of them. The growth of online shopping, which shows no sign of slowing, will further boost the assets of the men leading the charge.

Secondly, there’s barely anything that they have to worry about, except for the trifling matter of slow-loading web pages that irk spoiled purchasers. With the faster internet rolling out everywhere, they have good reasons to complain, too.

Of course, there are also valid challenges that they have to deal with. Foremost among them is the tendency of online buyers to abandon shopping carts. There are solutions, but getting down those shipping costs will most likely do a lot to lessen the abandonment of carts.

Another is that there is still a sizable percentage of people—56% of them, in fact—who prefer the tactile availability of physical stores, though that might be getting smaller any time soon.

Top reasons why shoppers still prefer in-store shopping

PERCENTAGE

Want to see items they want firsthand

Want to try on items before purchasing

To see if the product does not look different in person

Source: Global Online Consumer Report

Designed by

Beyond these, the recent move by the US Supreme Court to tax online sellers will certainly create long-lasting effects down the online shopping road. We will get back to it in an instant, too. And for more engaging information about the online shopping juggernaut, our online shopping statistics is the fix you’re looking for.

1. Physical retailers’ loss is online sellers’ gain

With the likes of Forever 21, Gap, Chico’s and Payless headlining the 8,600 brands closing stores in 2019, it’s easy to conjure up images of doom and gloom for the economy in general.

Yet the world or the US economy is not going down from the collapse of these businesses. If anything, the US and global economy march on, seemingly impervious to what’s happening among their constituents. The US economy, for example, is on target for a 2.3% growth rate. For the world, that would be 3.6%.

If all these seem counterintuitive, consider that online shopping and ecommerce very well pick up the slack of the physical retail meltdown. Or they’re basically taking over the shopping landscape, having fired the shots that whacked these physical stores in the first place.

More brick-and-mortar stores will likely close shop, but online stores will be there to pick up the buyers. However, there’s an unexpected twist: online store giants like Amazon and Alibaba are opening strategically located physical stores. What gives? CNBC explains it in a nutshell: collect more customer data.

Key takeaways:

  • In the face of physical store closures, online sellers will simply take over lost sales.
  • The closure of brick-and-mortar stores has not really hurt the US and global economies.
  • If anything, the US and global economy continue to grow despite the travails of physical stores.
  • In a twist, online stores are opening physical stores but for a different reason: customer data.

2. Online groceries are poised for prime time

After apparel and electronics, the next shelf ready for online shoppers to raid is the one for grocery items.

Who’s going after this market segment that will be worth $1.9 trillion by 2023?

It’s hard to match the leading Chinese players like Alibaba in Asia, but in the US, it’s a free-for-all for the likes of Amazon, Walmart and Target. Oh, and let’s not forget Google too.

They will be fighting over consumers 71% of whom already jumped the ship from brick-and-mortar stores to online sellers.

The stakes involve around $24 billion at 2018 figures, which is set to balloon to $59 billion by 2023.

Amazon already took direct measures to gain a sizable portion of the pie. One of these measures is the purchase of Whole Foods in 2017.

In fact, Amazon is quite busy these days, as this Amazon trends amply describe.

digital grocery shoppers

Key takeaways:

  • After apparel and electronics, online grocery is prepped for the next big stage.
  • In Asia, much of the action involves Alibaba and local players.
  • In the US, the action is going to be among Amazon, Walmart and Target. Google is going after the market too.

3. Brace for more consumer activism

It used to be that people associated environmentalism and sustainable consumerism with Greenpeace and consumer rights groups. No more.

With doom forecasts from climate scientists occupying the headlines, the likes of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion advocates and sympathizers have rallied even closet activists to come out and force irresponsible state and economic forces out of the social equation.

These green sleuths will subject any type of product to their stringent social ethics test: carbon dioxide footprint, waste disposal system, use of harmful substances, treatment of endangered animals or the use of minor-age workers, among others.

The price to pay could range from negative reputation and loss of sales. Offending vendors could expect to see their brands dragged in the courtrooms of social media too.

When this happens, they would find it extremely difficult to put off the wildfire.

Worse, they could be facing outright investigations, which may end up with them paying with the ultimate price of instant closure.

On the other hand, the emergence of strong consumer activism paves the road for green brands everywhere to make a dent in the markets.

For example, Ikea is already capitalizing on its green credentials, as do others like Patagonia and Keurig.

Key takeaways:

  • More consumers are taking environmental values seriously.
  • They demand to see people in positions to reflect their own values.
  • Online sellers can use this new challenge as an opportunity to transform markets.

4. Social media digs deeper into online shopping

Social media platforms and the social media management software solutions they breed are already critical pieces in the vendor-customer connection puzzle. The pieces could be about customer support, social media listening or product reviews. Up ahead, it will mostly be about selling.

Admittedly Facebook and YouTube are already into it. Facebook, however, has done nothing really major to push the envelope—yet.

Tne year 2020 and beyond could change all that.

Facebook and Instagram already connect users straight with individual sellers or business retailers. Pinterest and Snapchat started setting up retail experiences a couple of years back.

At the moment, 25% of business owners already sell through Facebook. On the other hand, 30% of consumers are willing to buy directly via social media platforms.

Once these social media giants manage to seamlessly integrate payment gateways as dedicated retailers do, consumers will get better options on their hands.

Leading media sites for online shopping

Facebook

%

YouTube

%

Twitter

%

Instagram

%

LinkedIn

%

Others

%

Source: Socialnomics 2018

Designed by

Key takeaways:

  • After apparel and electronics, online grocery is prepped for the next big stage.
  • In Asia, much of the action involves Alibaba and local players.
  • In the US, the action is going to be among Amazon, Walmart and Target. Google is going after the market too.

5. AI is taking over merchant content copywriting

Many—especially—creatives, did not see it coming: a robot or more technically an AI or a chunk of computer codes producing 20,000 lines of merchant content a second.

If you’re like Alibaba, however, it’s that or nothing. As these ecommerce statistics show, the staggering volume of products and services offered by Alibaba partners have gone to such an extent that humans simply could not hope to handle the volume of SKUs mounting up exponentially.

Activating the smart tool couldn’t be easier for brands and advertisers too: all they have to do is feed it the link to any product page. When that is done, the AI—which also passed the Turing test—takes over. It uses natural language processing technologies and deep learning models to generate the copy.

AI is not writing product descriptions over at Amazon and other major ecommerce players, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own AI automating tasks now beyond the reach of humans.

In the case of Amazon, it employs its own AI engine to help merchants produce real-time product recommendations when they use the AWS console. Similarly, Adobe and Stokes have their own AI systems do the same for them.

With consumers pushing online sellers to increase their catalogs, it would only be a matter of time before we see the increasing employment of AI software solutions to take care of the humanly impossible task of writing the copies for these merchant product lines.

AI copywriter for Alibaba

Alibaba has employed an AI to write the product descriptions for its merchants, like this one.

Key takeaways:

  • The vast volume of merchant SKUs is now virtually untouchable by humans.
  • In Asia, Alibaba is already employing AI—robots, some say—to write the catalog details for its merchant partners.
  • After Alibaba, it’s a toss coin among the other major players who will come out with their own AIs to function as Alibaba’s AI.

6. The taxman finally catches up with online sales

June 21, 2018 will live long in the memory of online sellers, at least for those with US operations. On this day, the US Supreme Court decided that states can collect sales taxes from online businesses even if they don’t have a physical presence in the state. The ruling overturned the Court’s 1992 decision.

Unless you are living in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon, you can now expect to see an additional line in your takeout page for the state taxman.

It’s a vindication of some sort for the physical stores that have either folded up or are currently struggling from what they see as unfair competition from their online counterparts who, until the ruling date, enjoyed the distinct advantage of offering lower prices because of the absence of sales tax.

While it could be a consolation too late for the fallen brick-and-mortar stores, it is a toss-up whether it would actually help the cause of the physical stores now.

What is clear is that it’s game over for the online buyers who previously enjoyed tax-free deals from their go-to online retailers.

The bigger question now, of course, is whether this landmark decision will have a domino effect for the rest of the world.

Aside from the immediate effect on consumers, the US Supreme Court move is seen to affect SMB online vendors negatively the most.

Compiling and computing for taxes put an immense burden on individual vendors who already have a lot in their hands with stocks and sales matters.

Not all is lost, however, with the presence of these leading tax software programs to make this task less complicated than it could be.

More powerful accounting tools also integrate many functions that should help these small businesses handle the new tax law.

supreme court ruling online tax

Key takeaways:

  • It’s game over for tax-free online purchases at least in the US.
  • The US Supreme Court made the landmark decision on June 21, 2018
  • Online buyers can now expect to see an additional line on their takeout pages.

Goods at your fingertips

At Comdex 1994, Bill Gates once made the line “Information at your fingertips” reverberate throughout the world. Twenty-five years forward and we are all the living embodiment of the fulfillment of that phrase. And more.

Now, we may be ready to push another line to replace that: “Goods at your fingertips” will certainly resonate with many in the global population, from Asia to Africa. And the likes of Amazon and Alibaba investors would be smiling ears to ears with that too, along with their die-hard fans and supporters.

On planes, ships, trucks, cars and motorcycles, goods are traveling the length of the planet to deliver goods even to the most far-flung places people could manage to get their orders online.

The Passing of the baton

Information may be good for the spirit, but goods take care of the rest of human needs. Thus, from one line to the next, we are seeing perhaps the most natural progression of the human love affair with technology.

Together, information and goods are becoming too pervasive to the point of an outright deluge. But whatever we take them for, there is no doubt that they are ushering us to a level of opportunities unmatched in any period of history. And we are just starting.

Opportunities everywhere

If you are the enterprising type, there is in this development more than enough to whet your appetite for a lifetime. These days, social registers are humming incessantly from adding another batch of young millionaires to the club.

Whether you look to getting your name there or just want to get busy with your next planned online purchasers, it pays to maintain a sense of compass on how our highly disruptive age will play out in the immediate and long term. For that, this series of trends posts will ensure that you get it.

Meantime, if you’re in the hunt for revamping your shopping cart platform or simply curious about your options, our detailed guide on the 12 best online shopping systems should point you in the right direction.

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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