Though the growth of e-commerce has been accelerating for years, a new decade promises to bring about innovative strategies to capture consumer interest.
According to digital marketing firm Bazaarvoice, shoppers themselves will be driving many of the changes to the e-commerce experience in 2020.
Feelings beat facts
Consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of the information that brands feed them through advertising. In fact, only one-third (33 percent) of surveyed shoppers said they trust the claims brands make.
Conversely, the vast majority (86 percent) of consumers trust reviews from other shoppers. Bazaarvoice analysts believe that brands will seek to harness the power of reviews and user-generated content (UGC) in 2020, making those elements the primary touchpoint for shoppers.
While detailed product information was once the most important sales driver, research shows that will take a back seat to photos and testimonials in the new decade.
Visual UGC is especially important, Bazaarvoice chief revenue officer, Joe Rohrlich said on a webinar Thursday.
Augmented reality technology being used by companies like GOAT, a hub for dedicated sneakerheads, helps consumers visualize product in their own environment—and even on their own feet.
Using these advanced tools, along with AI and machine learning, can help brands personalize the consumer experience and infuse it with an enticing convenience factor.
Everyone is a marketer
As the resale phenomenon continues to blossom with online marketplaces like The RealReal, ThredUp, Poshmark and GOAT growing in popularity, consumers are replacing brands as merchandisers and marketers.
Shoppers reselling their worn or unwanted wares are developing more advanced skills and expertise around marketing them. Artfully staged photos and detailed product descriptions are some of the ways that resellers are infusing their own spirit into a brand’s voice.
“They’re telling the brand story, and that enhances brand value,” Rohrlich said.
The “social shopping” craze also stands to grow this year, he said. Shoppers value the opinions of friends, family and members of their community, and are increasingly looking to connect with them throughout the shopping process.
Chinese marketplace Pinduoduo has tapped into that compulsion, allowing shoppers to band together to unlock discounts on purchases. The group shopping model has underscored the platform’s success, bringing 430 million monthly active users to the site.
Omnichannel on the rise
Omnichannel approaches are transforming the way that consumers are thinking about shopping, and opening up new avenues for brands to do business.
Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have begun to expand their online offerings, as well as programs that offer convenience and flexibility in the way that orders are fulfilled.
Buy online, pick up in-store options (BOPIS) are working wonders for department stores like Nordstrom and big-box retailers like Target, Rohrlich said. Both retailers have doubled down on the BOPIS offering, with Nordstrom dedicating more in-store storage space to online orders and target touting the convenience feature in its communications with consumers.
According to Bazaarvoice research, half of shoppers now say they prefer BOPIS to other shopping options.
Mobile shopping has also exploded in recent years, with 63 percent of all retail purchases made on smartphones in 2019. That number is projected to hit at least 70 percent this year, Rohrlich said.
In addition to browsing product on their mobile devices, shoppers are engaging with brands on a more meaningful level. Nearly all shoppers (89 percent) copped to reading reviews on their smartphones, and 98 percent open texts from brands. By stark contrast, just 22 percent of emails from brands are opened, indicating a preference for the immediacy—and intimacy—of SMS.
The growing popularity of mobile shopping has been a boon to retail’s new darlings: the direct-to-consumers (DTC).
Digitally native brands are meeting shoppers on mobile with incredible ease, as these brands have managed to leverage the power of social media.
And as these scrappy startups evolve, Rohrlich said, they too will offer more omnichannel options for even greater convenience. At least 850 DTC stores are expected to open by 2023, according to Baazarvoice, and 75 percent of DTCs are expected to offer subscription services.