Our ecommerce predictions for 2020
We’re nearing the end of 2019. A year where ecommerce broke new records, entered new territories, and, well, generally evolved super fast and as ever-changing as ever. We can’t really be surprised by the breakneck pace anymore, but we can, and should, look to take as many of the lessons learned with us from 2019, and into 2020. Which is what we’re doing here. With a month left of the decade, I thought I’d give my thoughts on what the landscape of ecommerce will look like in 2020. So, let’s get to it.
1) Brand marketing will get a lot more attention
Ok, so we’ve seen bottom funnel marketing grow to be one of – if not the – most predominant methods of ecommerce marketing. Channels such as Google Ads, remarketing and SEO have gained enormous traction and success, and for good reason too. It allows brands to communicate with both high relevance and precision and provides control of the customer journey all the way from click to purchase.
While I strongly believe this is an opportunity all brands should pursue, we also have to recognise that established brands cannot scale their businesses and build their brands solely through bottom funnel digital marketing, and that’s where I think we’ll see a lot more focus on brand marketing.
Bottom funnel marketing is here to stay, but...
It’s not to say that bottom funnel marketing will have a negative impact on your business - quite the contrary. But we’ve started to see the limitations of it, especially the consequences of allocating too much of your budget towards it. Adidas has recently stated that they’ll be returning to a more balanced marketing strategy after realizing that they’d focused too much on performance. It is within this balance that I think we’ll see a lot more emphasis on brand marketing – on long term goals, where the synergy between all aspects of marketing will be extremely highly valued. We do digital performance audits all the time, and we keep highlighting the need for balance. There’s a limit to how many people are searching for your products and increasing spend on channels like remarketing will often not result in more sales, UNLESS you are attracting new customers through other marketing disciplines simultaneously.
Analytics maturity means synergy is measurable
We are steadily advancing in the analytics maturity and it is now possible to evaluate the brand building effort much better than in the past. Imagine you run a Youtube campaign for a travel company targeting cruise guests and you are able to document a large lift in branded search after the campaign. These are just some of the more brand focused cues ecommerce marketers must tap into to fully unlock their potential.
But these advancements also calls for a bridging of disciplines such as performance marketing and brand marketing as they work in tandem and affect each other in numerous ways. I think that the frontrunners of 2020 will be able to understand this and organise their teams, KPI’s and partnerships with agencies based on an alignment of common goals.
2) Headless ecommerce and microservice architecture will gain strength
Consumers now have more choices than ever when it comes to digital shopping. When we couple that with increased adoption and use of mobile and non-traditional devices, retailers today need agile solutions to respond to new trends and market needs, and much quicker than they’ve been used to so far. We are currently seeing a huge increase in the implementation of a new ‘breed’ of ecommerce solutions called Headless eCommerce which allows retailers to innovate faster than ever.
Headless over monolithic
Instead of using one large monolithic enterprise solution to run the entire ecommerce tech stack, the headless approach involves stitching together a more customized package based on ‘best in class’ solutions from multiple smaller decoupled solutions.
We see that retailers and brands are moving in this direction to get more freedom around the frontend of their site and how their products and product information is presented. This effectively allows brands to build more personalized and well-designed user experiences than traditional ecommerce templates allow.
The future’s ecommerce is API-led
The Headless approach suits different types of retailers in different ways – with content-focused and heavily brand-focused websites being the obvious use case. In a traditional commerce solution, the storefront would have to call to retrieve information all the way back to the platform which can be time-consuming. The headless approach ‘de-couples’ the two and uses API calls to retrieve that information instead. This, in turn, allows developers to customise digital storefronts with a lot more ease as the back- and frontend no longer rely heavily on each other through code. In 2020 we will see several big retailers launch lightning fast and innovative shopping experiences with API-led commerce.
3) Digital B2B sales will explore and match the B2C customer experience
Let’s be bold and state that 2020 will be the year many of the old B2B ecommerce solutions will be replaced. Customers will no longer settle for commerce experiences that look outdated and difficult to navigate - even when they are ordering B2B.
B2B commerce leaders are therefore no longer competing solely with their own peers in their particular industry, but are instead competing with – or at the very least being compared to – the best B2C ecommerce experiences across all industries. We are talking Netflix, Amazon, Nike – the list goes on, and consumers have been shown how smooth the experiences can be, and ecommerce expectations are only getting higher, for both B2B and B2C.
Self-service and self-sufficient
It’s important to note that we also see the key decision makers in the B2B process are getting younger and many now prefer a “self service” and “salesperson free” research process if possible. In some cases, millennials will be more than halfway through the buying process before they even contact someone at your business – if they contact you directly at all. This highlights the need to provide the best possible customer experience going all the way from research to purchase to support a ‘self-directed’ customer journey.
Google’s B2B data demonstrates that 57% of the vendor selection happens even before reaching out to to a particular vendor.
Personalisation is finally showing up
Personalisation, that fancy buzzword we all heard a lot about a few years ago, is finally starting to mature into real solutions for customers. In Adapt, we are actively working with brands to use CRM data to personalise websites, apps, and digital marketing. In our opinion, the B2B players have the biggest ease and advantage to gain by leveraging these techniques due to the rich customer profiles they are able to build, when they connect the dots in the customer journey.
Closing the gap between B2B and B2C
The shift in focus for B2B companies to provide engaging digital customer experiences will also provide new metrics for their ecommerce and marketing teams such as site speed and mobile bounce rates. Overall we already see the gap between B2B and B2C commerce is rapidly closing, and that will continue in 2020. The businesses who are present and relevant in all parts of the customer purchasing journey and provides positive moments that are helpful, service oriented and personalised, will undoubtedly gain an edge over their competitors.
Klaus Jespersen Colding