Ecommerce Trends 2020

Trending on marketplaces! Top 7 ecommerce trends for growth-minded sellers

Ecommerce is both growing rapidly and undergoing constant transformation. The new decade has brought new trends and changes are happening on many levels.

For example, technological advances and the application of AI have made it possible to combine the best of technology and the human brain to achieve even better results and more streamlined processes. Ecommerce is also taking a new direction with the rise of niche marketplaces, cross-border trade and social commerce.

At the same time, the online sales environment is very competitive. Due to competition, both prices and ecommerce advertising are on the rise. However, high ad costs on some channels, e.g. Instagram, make it necessary for many sellers to select channels with the best ROI only. Merchants also need to explore new markets with lower competition.

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The bottom line: to survive and thrive in this expanding ecommerce environment, marketplace sellers must stay on top of the newest trends.

In this article based on the expert insights from Caroline Ohrn, Product Director at Webinterpret, you’ll learn about:

  • The top 7 ecommerce trends in a marketplace-centric digital economy
  • Facts, stats, definitions and useful data to help online merchants grow their sales effectively & efficiently
  • Expert insights & recommendations to help sellers go with the current ecommerce flow, and much more.

Click the links below to go directly to the ecommerce trend of your interest:

#1 ecommerce trend: niche marketplaces
#2 ecommerce trend: recommerce
#3 ecommerce trend: advertising
#4 ecommerce trend: social shopping
#5 ecommerce trend: chatbots
#6 ecommerce trend: AI & NLP for ecommerce translation
#7 ecommerce trend: global ecommerce

#1 ecommerce trend: niche marketplaces

When it’s difficult to compete in the established ecosystems of marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, niche marketplaces can give smaller sellers a competitive advantage.

Bigger marketplaces are a great way to check out product options in unfamiliar territories. However, they may be unable to satisfy the needs of experienced buyers in search of specific products.

Often it will be niche marketplaces that offer a more complete set of specialized products and hard-to-find items in less demand, especially in fashion, jewelry and health & well-being. Additionally, in-depth knowledge of specialized products can position sellers as an authority in a specific market segment.

What are niche marketplaces?
Niche marketplaces focus on a narrow set of products, from one particular retail category, such as apparel, automotive or electronics. Niche sites focus on doing a few things instead of multi-tasking like “sell-it-all” marketplaces. Thus, their approach is customer-centric and they deliver improved customer experience.

Examples of niche marketplaces are high-end, luxury marketplaces, such as Farfetch or Vestiaire Collective.

Niche sites tend to offer experiential and inspirational shopping experiences, similar to concept stores. This contrasts with ecommerce platforms, such as Amazon, where shopping is often utilitarian, resembling daily shopping in a supermarket.

However, in many contexts consumers are shopping for experiences and ideas rather than products only. Consider the famous Apple advertising slogan “Think different”. It doesn’t encourage consumers just to get or use an Apple personal computer. In reality, Apple customers engage with the brand on a much deeper level, identifying with its philosophy. Many stay loyal for years.

Thus, experiential ecommerce is a great opportunity to build emotional connections with customers and increase brand loyalty. Today this often happens through personalized experiences that involve engagement through all the senses. For example, Fartech’s Store of the Future is an augmented retail solution that “links the online and offline worlds, using data to enhance the retail experience”.

The benefits of niche marketplaces:

  • Increased trust: with better security technology, more and more shoppers are willing to buy from niche sites. Customer trust and loyalty is also earned by specializing in one area.
  • Targeted marketing: instead of concentrating on masses, the focus is on personalization and engagement. Products can be marketed to a specific range of consumers.
  • Improved & personalized customer experience: a focus on a narrow product range means focus on quality, not quantity, which often goes hand in hand with high quality user and customer experience.
  • Standing out from competition: selling on niche sites can make the seller’s unique identity more visible than on large (saturated) marketplaces.

Niche marketplaces: insights from Caroline Ohrn

Today there’s a wide choice of marketplaces where sellers can offer their products. Some marketplaces list products in all sorts of categories; some are famous for deals; some cater to high-spenders’ desires for exclusivity and there’s also plenty of niche marketplaces.

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ecommerce expert caroline 01
As the sheer volume of options may be overwhelming, it’s important to choose your marketplaces wisely. Instead of listing across as many platforms as possible, it’s more sensible to first identify the best marketplace match for your product catalogs.
Caroline Ohrn, Product Director at Webinterpret

It’s crucial to ask the right questions:

  • Do you offer staple goods that are purchased regularly and/or by a lot of people?
  • Do you offer a lot of deals?
  • Do you sell unique, high value items?

Answering such questions will help you better understand where you should sell your products and it’ll help you reach the right buyers.

#2 ecommerce trend: recommerce

The modern drive for sustainability has made second-hand clothing and products “fashionable”. Consumers are increasingly trying to reduce their own consumption. At the same time, they’re interested in bargains and the best deals.

No wonder recommerce is on the rise. It’s growing fastest in fashion retail, but there’s also a growing demand from consumers to gift, share and resell digital content and video.

What is recommerce?
Recommerce (resale / reverse commerce) refers to the buying & selling of previously owned, new or used products (e.g. electronic devices, antiques, furniture or media) through physical or online distribution channels (from charity shops to eBay).

For example, Depop, a peer-to-peer social shopping app, provides a mobile marketplace that enables individuals to buy and sell their items. Other examples are Selency, ThredUp, Poshmark or Grailed.

Buying used items is a choice that is both economical and ecological. Spending a lot of money on a brand new Gucci or Louis Vuitton doesn’t add up when second-hand designer clothes in excellent condition are offered on a resale platform at half the price.

To a large extent, the resale surge is being motivated by societal trends. For instance, in the era of Instagram, some users find it important not to be seen in the same outfit more than once and resale makes their lifestyle more affordable.

Recommerce: insights from Caroline Ohrn

With growing environmental consciousness, retail is going green. According to GlobalWebIndex (2018), 50% of digital consumers state that environmental concerns impact their purchasing decisions. Thus, sellers should strive to create more sustainable & greener practices for their businesses, e.g. by using eco-friendly shipping practices and partners.

For instance, parcel forwarding companies, shipping in high volumes, often consolidate packages, send parcels in bulk and combine several parcels from several customers into one shipment. This way they reduce cost & excess packaging. Sellers can also consolidate orders from the same user into one package.

Sellers should choose boxes that are correctly sized for specific products and avoid oversized packaging. Giving customers a green shipping option at checkout and offering environmentally-friendly products can also help gain eco-conscious customers’ loyalty.

#3 ecommerce trend: advertising

In today’s retail market the battle for customer attention is fiercer than ever. Additionally, being first in organic may not mean that much on marketplaces. As Amazon and other platforms have increased the prominence of paid ads, the first organic result may not pop up until the middle of the page.

ecommerce amazon sponsored products brands

Thus, ecommerce ad spend is increasing: it rose 115% in Q3 2019 vs. Q3 2018, according to Marin Software. This was driven largely by Amazon, a seasonal surge for Prime Day and a strong back-to-school season.

According to Amazon, 76% of Amazon shoppers use the search bar to find an item, and search advertising is a way for brands to stand out among the competition.

What is Amazon Advertising?
Amazon Advertising is a service that works in a similar way to pay-per-click ads on Google: sellers only pay when shoppers click on ads (regardless of whether or not the item sells).

Amazon’s advertising business is growing at a rapid pace, especially as it diversifies its products across its ecosystem. Amazon DSP (Demand Side Platform) has allowed sellers to programmatically buy display and video ads at scale and target audiences on Amazon.com, Fire TV Sticks, IMDb.com, Kindles, Freedive, apps, third-party sites, apps and platforms.

What are eBay Promoted Listings?
eBay Promoted Listings is a service that supports the cost-per-sale funding model. The seller is charged a fee if an item sells via a Promoted Listings action.

The fee is calculated by multiplying the seller-specified bid percentage (between 1% and 100%) by the final sales price of the listing in the campaign. The higher the bid percentage, the more likely the listing will be displayed in eBay buyer search results.

The bottom line: finding the right mix of paid search, social media and marketplace advertising is more essential than ever. Marketplace sellers must be laser focused on getting the right products in front of the right people.

Advertising in ecommerce: insights from Caroline Ohrn

Ads on marketplaces positively impact product page views, transactions and revenue. In general, they’re very effective for a short boost in sales. However, an effective long-term advertising strategy is a completely different thing. For example, the level of competition depends on the time of the year, seasonal events such as Black Friday, and so on.

Sometimes sellers must put in more advertising effort, another time products can sell relatively easily with no (excessive) ad spend. Advertising activities should be adjusted accordingly and a well-thought-out ad strategy is a must.

Unfortunately, many sellers aren’t familiar with the so-called rules of the game or find it too time-consuming to understand how eBay or Amazon advertising really works. This way they can lose both paid and organic traffic.

#4 ecommerce trend: social shopping

Shopping is in its very nature a social experience. Although shopping online is convenient, it lacks many aspects of traditional shopping, e.g. the fun of hopping from shop to shop or sharing opinions.

Social shopping mimics the interactions typical of in-store shopping. On social platforms, users can share experiences with their contacts/friends or receive product feedback/suggestions. Brands, in turn, can engage their satisfied customers, build loyalty and position their products in a real-world setting.

What is social shopping?
Social shopping, or social commerce, refers to any purchase through social platforms. It takes place in social media apps, communities, social marketplaces or can result from suggestions made by recommendation algorithms.

Social shopping differs from social media marketing. You don’t redirect users to an online store, but you offer them the ability to checkout directly within the network they’re currently using. This way purchases can take just a few clicks.

social shopping instagram checkout

Social selling attracts 45% more business opportunities. It’s a cost-effective way to capture relevant traffic as it targets social media where customers spend plenty of their time. The top brands engage in social selling: 98% on Twitter, 96% on Facebook, 85% on Instagram.

Examples and application of social commerce:

  • Mass marketing via Facebook Messenger
  • Having “Like” or “Tweet” buttons on product pages
  • Shoppable feeds and Instagram pages
  • Showing off products through hashtags and tagging customer photos
  • Discounts for visitors who share products on their networks
  • Pinterest’s marketplace featuring hand-picked products from small and emerging sellers
  • Features in social networking apps that allow marketplaces to sell goods directly in the app without the user leaving it, making it transactional. For instance, Instagram’s internal checkout feature, Facebook’s built-in shopping feature.

Social shopping: insights from Caroline Ohrn

Today shoppers want a simpler route to their favorite products. However, many ecommerce purchase journeys are too complex, relying on redirects from one platform to another and/or requiring multiple steps.

Social shopping addresses the problem of a long and slow redirecting process that makes many shoppers exit the window before reaching the checkout. Social commerce sells products directly through social media, making it easy for buyers to complete their purchases.

If you know your audience well, this can be really effective in some product categories, e.g. vintage clothing or lifestyle products, and on some channels, e.g. Instagram. However, advertising, especially on Instagram, can be expensive so you need to consider alternative channels.

#5 ecommerce trend: chatbots

83% of consumers contact a business over messaging to learn about a product/service and 75% to make a purchase. In general, today’s consumers are messaging-obsessed.

ecommerce trends messaging apps by country

Conversational commerce involves messaging with consumers. It enables them to make purchases via platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Alexa, iMessage or Assistant. It prioritizes convenience and personalization.

What are chatbots in ecommerce?
Chatbots implemented on ecommerce platforms allow users to get high-accuracy and immediate responses to their requests via a website live-chat. For example, Etsy’s chatbot provides users with 24/7 customer support to solve their issues, such as account problems, payment/order delays, etc.

How do chatbots work?

Chatbots act as digital attendants and collect, analyze and process the data given by users in a live-chat to provide them with valuable and relevant information. These can be recommendations of suitable goods filtered by users’ criteria, such as pricing, color and item characteristics.

global ecommerce digital assistants worldwide

Chatbots: insights from Caroline Ohrn

Thanks to machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, virtual assistants can collect, process and release information in a smart, fast and relevant way.

Some of them have a hands-free feature with no need for interaction with the smartphone. Instead of clicking, tapping or swiping, users just need to launch an app and say a particular command. The machine will process the input and provide a rapid and relevant response.

#6 ecommerce trend: AI & NLP for ecommerce translation

Ecommerce translation goes beyond finding the best matching words in a dictionary. The best translation from the linguistic perspective may not be what shoppers actually search for online. For instance, “das Handy” is a German word for a mobile. However, when browsing for a mobile, Germans may not enter “das Handy”, but rather “Android”, “iPhone”, “smartphone”, etc.

As a result, it’s important to know which keywords are searched for most often in particular categories and can generate most sales. For example, according to Webinterpret research, items with the word “fancy dress” had a 250% bigger chance of being sold in the UK compared with items containing the word “costume”, which contrasted with the USA.

international seo ecommerce keywords

There’s a lot to consider when translating marketplace listings for foreign buyers. To improve listing visibility & performance, let’s say on eBay, translation & localization should take place according to eBay filters, specific requirements posed by particular product categories as well as sellers’ preferences.

AI can help with automating the ecommerce translation process by combining human knowledge and machine capabilities. For example, Webinterpret’s in-house translation software tool has pioneered the implementation of adaptive machine translation. Our AI-based, natural language processing (NLP) solution and autonomous machine-learning helps to deliver automated human-quality translation and a domain-specialized localization process.

What is Natural Language Processing (NLP)?
Natural Language Processing (NLP), a branch of AI, is the technology used to help computers understand the human’s natural language and how humans communicate. Most NLP techniques involve machine learning.

NLP is the driving force behind language translation apps, such as Google Translate. Also, Webinterpret’s translation system uses innovative NLP technology that allows machines to learn from human feedback in a continuous, self-improving loop. We summarize all product descriptions, extract all attributes and store product descriptions as structured content.

This ecommerce-optimized machine translation differs from standard machine translation as it’s built and trained specifically for ecommerce products in the ecommerce context.

AI & NLP in ecommerce: insights from Caroline Ohrn

As far as ecommerce translation goes, it’s important to analyze product data to establish context in order to achieve the best adapted translations.

For example, at Webinterpret the way we’ll translate ‘face mask’ will depend on whether it belongs to sports accessories or health & beauty categories. We also take cultural differences into account.

Standard machine translation, i.e. not optimized for ecommerce, has its challenges, e.g. overtranslating brands. For instance, the brand “North Face” can be overtranslated into “Nordwand” for German buyers and into “Face Nord” for French buyers.

Further, sizes and dimensions may be translated incorrectly or not translated at all. Such mistakes and oversights can significantly increase return rates and decrease seller ratings.

#7 ecommerce trend: global ecommerce

Ecommerce is growing steadily and on a global scale. According to Statista, retail market sales worldwide will reach $6.54 trillion in 2023 compared to $3.53 trillion in 2019.

ecommerce sales global 2014 2023

The growing number of online marketplaces, buyers and cross-border purchases stimulate the market’s growth. According to eMarketer, 70% of online buyers have recently purchased from foreign sites.

Cross border ecommerce on the increase

Furthermore, 80% of retailers worldwide agree that cross-border trade has been profitable or that sellers have successfully increased sales as much as 1,000% after expanding their marketplace presence.

As a result, a good sales opportunity is to test new/foreign markets, especially when paid marketing campaigns reach a plateau in your domestic/current market. Increasing CPCs further to grow traffic can decrease campaign clicks, sales and the overall profitability. What can help in such situations are less competitive markets that can offer lower CPCs and better return on advertising spend.

ecommerce cpc international markets

On eBay and Amazon you can sell on markets with less competition and more sales potential. These are often foreign markets where local online sellers aren’t able to offer specific products or meet the local demand. The possibility of satisfying the unmet demand abroad is one of the biggest worldwide opportunities for ecommerce retailers.

Global ecommerce: insights from Caroline Ohrn

Most ecommerce sellers focus their sales & advertising efforts on their domestic markets only. This approach, however, limits the merchant’s sales potential in a considerable way. Selling internationally along with a smart advertising strategy is what helps sellers unlock their true sales success.

Advertising, to a large extent, is about striking a balance between investing money and getting results. This usually requires knowledge and experience, e.g. a good understanding of the specifics of a given market or the demand & competition dynamics.

global ecommerce caroline go global

Selling internationally along with a smart advertising strategy is what helps sellers unlock their true sales success. It’s time to go global!

Webinterpret can help marketplace sellers leverage ads on different international markets. With access to data and vast ecommerce knowledge, we can help merchants achieve the best possible ROI. Grow your online sales now!

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