Roundtable: eCommerce Trends 2019

Roundtable: eCommerce Trends 2019

We joined UK Fast and personalisation company Nosto in a roundtable at eCommerce Expo, looking at eCommerce trends in 2019 and beyond and how retailers can capitalise on the opportunities they present.

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Jonathan Bowers, Managing Director Enterprise, UK Fast
Rob Burns, Managing Director, 9xb Limited
James White, General Manager, Nosto

Trend 1: Personalisation

Driven by Amazon and other online retailers, personalisation is now expected when consumers visit an online store. To keep pace with these expectations, retailers need to understand what is driving behaviour on their sites so they can learn from that data and adapt to meet needs. As a result, we are seeing the rise of many data platform providers in the eCommerce space.

Reading this, may make many smaller retailers role their eyes. How are you supposed to compete with the likes of Amazon? We are seeing examples of smaller businesses - Cox and Cox and Gill Marine were two stated - who are punching above their weight when it comes to personalisation, taking a holistic view of the site and personalising surfaced content based on buyer intent.

Cox and Cox, still a fairly niche player online, took ten orders per second last Black Friday and continues to offer exceptional user experience.

Some of the personalisation techniques we’re seeing include:

  • Product recommendations
  • Shop the look
  • Segmented pop ups based on demographics
  • Pay later messaging for repeat visitors yet to purchase
  • Bespoke menus based on purchase history

As well as focusing on a great customer experience, businesses are starting to use personalisation for their own benefits, for example, only showing higher margin products.

“We are still only scratching the surface with the possibilities that personalisation presents. The more data we have, the more exciting it will get.”

Trend 2: Speed is of the essence

Not only do consumers now expect a personalised and seamless user journey, but they also expect speed, both in terms of website performance and reliability, and fast order fulfilment. More and more online retailers are offering next day or even one hour delivery. One 9xb client, Euro Car Parts, delivers 75,000 orders per day, all within one hour.

Both technology and data play a huge part in achieving the right product in the right place at the right time, and retailers will need to have a tight grasp of their logistics and operations in 2020.

Trend 3: B2ALL

B2ALL is the rise of businesses who traditionally have sold to other business, selling directly to consumers. It is becoming very easy for companies to set up a direct to consumer operation to test the market, and more and more are realising that B2B and B2C consumers are actually the same people. There are also significant financial benefits from selling direct to the consumer rather than through a third party such as a wholesaler who takes a large chunk of the margin.

The move to B2ALL does come with its challenges. Transporting pallets and containers of goods is very different to transporting individual boxes to personal addresses. However, in terms of user experience, the two buyers should be treated the same, for example, there’s no reason why retailers can’t upsell to B2B buyers based on what other customers are purchasing, just as they would for B2C buyers.

Some businesses are going one step further, offering personalised store fronts, product recommendations and categories dependent on a user’s login.

Online B2B sales has been a huge growth area in 2019 and will continue in 2020, as businesses realise the opportunity to reduce the cost of sale through digital. B2B buyers are now savvy tech users who expect the same great experience whether they are shopping for business or pleasure.

Trend 4: Social Media

“Consumers who arrive at a site via social media spend 32% more than those who come via organic search.”

The reason for this is the importance of social proof. Social platforms have become very adept at collecting data to understand their users needs, creating communities of similar users who engender trust.

This social selling will become more prevalent, with sites such as Instagram now allowing users to shop the brands they follow and tag products to encourage others to purchase them.

Trend 5: Technological Innovation

Several technology advances are forcing changes in eCommerce. One example is single page applications (SPA). Single page applications are apps that work inside a browser without the need for page reloading during usage. Although native apps are still being used by some retailers, particularly fast fashion brands, they can lead to clunky UX and require significant investment. An SPA is easier and cheaper to develop, and allows for a smoother and more controlled user journey.

Combined with growing confidence in mobile online purchases and the rollout of 5G across the UK, we should continue to see this channel outperform desktop, with a focus on more immersive experiences.

Another innovation is the move to headless eCommerce, Headless eCommerce refers to the decoupling of the front end of a website from the backend and enables content to be delivered to different types of users on different devices in different ways. It also makes it easier for retailers to quickly make changes to the design of their store, or to spin up white label sites.

Trend 6: The convergence of online with bricks and mortar

Even up until recently, goods such as cars and carpets and flooring have firmly remained bricks and mortar purchases, requiring a need to see or touch the product in person. This is starting to change. With the rise of video and AR, a trend that will become more influential as we move to headless eCommerce, even these products can be brought to life online.

Physical stores are seeing reinvention as a way for consumers to engage with brands once they have done their research online. We’ve seen some online retailers creating pop up shops as a way to make their brand more tangible and to build brand presence, rather than to drive product sales.  

“The key theme here is the need for better and faster data to drive and validate online strategy. Retailers should never take their eye off what the customer needs.”

Takeaways for retailers:

  • Understand your customers and what drives their purchase decisions
  • Make use of technology to capture as much data as possible and remove data silos from your business operations
  • Test and analyse what shoppers are doing on your site
  • Use the data to offer personalised experiences and make it easy for your customers to buy from you

If you're looking to overhaul your eCommerce strategy in 2020, get in touch to discuss how we can help.

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