Written by AJ Leale, Sr. Director eCommerce
With the 2019 holiday season behind us, it is time to think about the most notable lessons and moments from the eCommerce space. This new knowledge will help you turn 2020 into a huge success story for your business — so stick around!
In this blog post, we will discuss the major 2019 trends and takeaways, and then head into 2020 planning with some key strategies:
- Anticipated eCommerce holiday trends for 2020
- Technology necessary to up your eCommerce game in 2020
- How to create an extensive, rich calendar of activities for the whole year
- What to keep an eye on during the next holiday season
2019 eCommerce Holiday Trends
Personalization, localization, chatbots, and voice search saw significant growth in the past year, and are predicted to grow further in years to come. Marketers who implemented these features before the 2019 holiday season were rewarded with substantial conversion growth.
Personalization is beneficial both for customers and companies. It improves the customer experience while boosting conversion rates and sales and influencing what people buy.
During the holidays, personalized offers prompt your customers to make shopping decisions that help your bottom line — whether they choose to buy from you or go elsewhere. Receiving an email that leads to an article with personalized gift ideas at the right time is the perfect scenario!
With the rise of omnichannel capabilities, localization is the next step to attract customers. Changing the offer according to the geographical location opens up a whole new world of potential buyers. If an eCommerce store is properly localized, shoppers will be able to:
- Receive location-based recommendations
- Browse the local store and buy to pick up or ship to store
- Instantly see the exact price based on the store inventory, taxes, and shipping
Localization does a lot more for customers, and benefits retailers who wish to expand to various markets and never miss out on potential buyers. We wrote more about this in our piece about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce localization.
Chatbots proved to be an excellent way to provide customer support with limited resources. Only 38% of customers actually want to engage with a human, while an even smaller number of them (14% to be exact) would choose to fill in a website form instead of using a chatbot.
Chatbots provide the answers almost instantly — which is what today’s customers expect. Just think of the relief you’ll experience during the holiday season: while chatbots handle all the minor requests and help the customers, your team can focus on implementing the perfect holiday strategy.
Voice search is gaining popularity a lot faster than experts anticipated, and the trend will surely continue to grow in 2020.
According to this 2019 study, a third of US residents use voice search features regularly, mostly due to the proliferation of voice assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s Bixby. In addition to smart devices with this feature included, such as smart speakers and smartphones, the software continues to spread to everyday household items and appliances such as smart TVs, refrigerators, and cars.
Voice search on eCommerce sites is taking the lessons learned from these voice assistants and enabling customers to browse sites using vocal search terms. This is particularly useful for mobile devices, where typing requires more effort.
What’s one thing that personalization, localization, chatbots, and voice search have in common?
The answer is simple — improved user experience.
So, has UX replaced content as the king of eCommerce?
Let’s just say that it’s time to take a new approach with these 2019 trends: personalize and localize, enable chatbots to answer customers’ questions immediately, and make voice search optimization a part of your strategy — all of which will free you up to stay on top of your content game.
2020 Holiday Trends Prediction
We’re already kind of deep into 2020 — but there’s still plenty of time to get on board with the most important eCommerce predictions for this year. With key holidays months away, now is the right time to consider mobile, social media, and multiple means of sales — and include them in your annual retail strategy.
It’s no surprise that mobile purchases continue to grow year after year. According to OuterBox research, around 40% of all eCommerce purchases during the 2018 holiday season were made on a smartphone. That trend continued in the second half of 2019, with 79% of smartphone users making an online purchase via mobile phones.
Social Media as an eCommerce channel
Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest have come a long way. These days, brands have integrated online stores with social media and made online shopping much easier. With Instagram’s shopping button in particular, all it takes is a click on the image or video of the desired product, and you’re seamlessly rerouted to a cart.
Social shopping stats show that customers like buying this way. The number of US internet users who use social networks to investigate and make a decision about a potential purchase rose from 27% to 36% between 2015 and 2018.
Want to know more? In this blog post, we wrote about holiday eCommerce activities for social media.
Going omnichannel is the best thing you can do to boost your UX (apart from giving away free stuff, that is). Besides, today’s customers expect an omnichannel experience.
Browsing the products via mobile, purchasing on your desktop, and picking your order up in a brick-and-mortar store — that’s one scenario. Or maybe you don’t find your size in the store, but you order the product on the spot to be delivered to your home. The capacity to facilitate a smooth purchase via all possible channels is what’s going to foster loyal customers who won’t go looking elsewhere.
With the best shopping experience in mind, we decided to pay special attention to providing an omnichannel experience. Learn how we do it with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce.
Your Technology Needs and Limitations for 2020
In order to stay up to date with trends and customers’ wants and needs in 2020, you might have to improve the tech stack you’re working with.
Here we have a thorough list of our resources to help you fix, improve, and fill in all the gaps in your tech setup:
- This blog post outlines the questions you need to consider at the beginning of the year to put yourself in a position to face the holidays in the top condition
- How to create a foolproof holiday marketing strategy, and when to start the holiday eCommerce campaigns and preparation
- Creating a holiday content plan
- AI implementation to revolutionize your eCommerce websites
- Benefits of headless commerce
- Opting for PWA stores
- Holiday SEO tune-up checklist
- Holiday UX — mistakes to learn from
- Improving website speed
- Reducing cart abandonment rate
- Creating the best CTAs
- Product page design best practices
This reading list is quite long — but after going through these articles, you can rest assured that you’ve thoroughly examined every technical aspect of your eCommerce, and you will have a game plan!
Setting Your eCommerce Holiday Calendar for Q4 and Beyond
Apart from the regular events and holidays we mentioned here, there are plenty of year-round opportunities to enrich your yearly eCommerce calendar. Don’t make the mistake of focusing solely on Q4 and missing out on the rest of the year.
Try the following ideas!
New Year’s resolutions for year-long campaigns
People tend to forget about their New Year’s resolutions as early as January 19th! Use this Q1 time period to remind them not to give up and to help them achieve their goals.
Most resolutions include getting fit and losing weight, learning a new language, reading more, and quitting smoking. See how your products or services fit in and you can cross-sell or upsell easily to clear leftover holiday stock.
If you are in the fitness industry, the answer is simple: offer special discounts to people who commit to your weight loss challenge. Marketers in other niche areas will have to get a bit more creative. For example, if you sell notebooks, hire a design team to create a special bullet journal to track the completion of New Year goals.
Think globally: include campaigns for foreign countries
Look beyond the US holidays, and you will find almost countless valuable opportunities.
When targeting the foreign market, be sure to:
- Learn about the local customs, events and cultures, so you don’t do anything disrespectful, rude or become a subject of ridicule.
- Localize — we can’t emphasize this too much! Use expert translation, payment methods, relevant keywords, specific content, and products with specific local appeal.
- Revise your ICP — maybe your potential customers are of a different age or prefer other social media channels.
- Offer favorable shipping methods.
Participate in awareness campaigns
Environmental activism and social change campaigns are on the rise all over the world. Improve your brand image by showing that you care about meaningful causes and want to make a better world for everyone.
For example, H&M has a long-lasting global recycling campaign, and many brands have attracted positive attention by going cruelty-free.
International Day of This-and-That
There are a lot of extensive lists of important dates — so just pick the ones that are relevant to your business and create appropriate campaigns.
What to Track During the Holidays
Once your campaigns are all set and everything is on the move, keep an eye on:
- Cart abandonment rate
- Complaints and FAQs
- Content ranking on Google
- Seasonal keyword popularity
During the holidays, it’s important to act fast and improve on the spot — but with all the tips we’ve offered above, we’re sure you’ll lessen the chances of unpleasant surprises!
Or… Leave it to Us
Visionet’s team of eCommerce experts is at your disposal.
We can refine your global strategy and help you achieve success in 2020, so boost your Q1 momentum by contacting us and asking away!