Marketing

Essential eCommerce Trends: From Facebook Shops to Chatbots

Future-proof your retail marketing strategy with the biggest trends taking over the world of eCommerce.

Portrait for Lachean Humphreys By Lachean Humphreys
Posted 15 Jul 2020
eCommerce Trends 2020

Trends in the eCommerce industry have been steadily gathering steam, as brands explore the intersection of retail and technology to enhance the customer experience. And, in the midst of a global crisis, eCommerce has raced ahead once again—as Forbes reports, recent months have hugely accelerated its growth. You can now window shop from your browser, your social media live stream, and with voice technology and augmented reality.

With new announcements like Facebook Shops, and some of the world’s biggest retailers leading the way for sustainable packaging and drone and robot food delivery, keeping ahead of the wave of eCommerce developments is becoming less of a trend to follow than a must-do to survive.

From understanding voice commerce to nailing the basics of conversion and personalization, here is our roundup of eCommerce trends for 2020. 

01. Facebook and Instagram Shops

Facebook shops
Facebook Shops

In May, Facebook announced its latest move into the world of eCommerce with Facebook Shops (you can see how it works in this video). Essentially, it’s a simplified version of an online store that runs through the Facebook and Instagram apps.

The benefit is that the apps are already optimized for any platform and any device—you only need to customize (colors, layout, etc.) your dedicated “shop” section on your Facebook page or Instagram profile, and customers will be able to browse, save, share, and purchase. This massive move for small retailers facing the challenges of Covid-19 is now being rolled out in the US and should be available elsewhere in the coming months. 

In the meantime, up your game on Facebook and Instagram, and create content that will help attract future customers. For example, try Memphis Store Promotion Templates by spacestudios, which features nine customizable posts to develop cohesive sales collateral. For social media templates, including posts, banners, and ads, browse Envato Elements.

To get a head start on your shop, you may also need product mockup imagery to populate it. Placeit has a huge range of ready-to-use mockups, for everything from fashion and accessories to stationery and tech.

If you’re a new business and still setting up a profile, or you're re-prioritising and refreshing your Instagram presence, head over to our recent roundup of Instagram Trends for 2020 for inspiration.

02. Offline to Online

Towards the end of last year and into the first few months of 2020, we were starting to see a shift as traditionally online-only brands went offline too—in the way of pop-ups, collaborations, limited displays, and events. Brands such as Glossier (which closed its London pop-up store in March but announced it would be looking at new ways to connect with customers, such as ten-minute FaceTime appointments), Amazon and Goop are some of the most high-profile returns to bricks and mortar in the last few years.

However, recent months saw them shifting with the tides along with everyone else, and heading back online. Beyond this, traditionally offline-only brands seized the opportunity to get on board—and in many cases rapidly expanded and improved their online stores to future-proof their businesses.

Multinational eCommerce giant Shopify recently pledged to redirect investments to help its vendors through global lockdown via online selling. With an upturn in subscription revenue and many new merchants joining the platform, the company’s revenue growth has boomed in the first quarter of 2020. It has diverted spending away from brand marketing and into improving sales channels and its fulfilment operations—making for a streamlined, direct-to-consumer operation.

But more than simply creating a pain-free online transaction, brands have been looking to live events, live streaming, and social media to fill the void of in-person brand connection (more on this in point four).

To try your hand, bzplayer Pro is a live-streaming WordPress plugin available on CodeCanyon that will help with branching into virtual events. If you’re launching something soon, nothing builds anticipation like a countdown, so why not add The Countdown Pro to a content or sidebar area on your page. And to publish compelling Instagram Story content to promote your events, use templates like this Instagram Stories pack by motionbeard.

03. Video Content Boosting Conversion

Most of us look to reviews before purchase, and increasingly we’re looking specifically to product review videos before we buy. In fact, research suggests that 62% of customers watch product review videos before making a purchase, and 84% have been convinced to buy a product or service after watching a brand’s video.

Why is this? Well, it’s an engaging and easy-to-understand way to answer questions, explain, or recommend. For examples of doing this well, look to organizations in the software space like Headspace and their introduction to their app, or to this promotional video for Duolingo.

Many marketers also report videos are the most effective form of content they produce, in terms of increased conversion, increased organic traffic, and high levels of positive engagement—but that they’re also the trickiest piece of content to get right. If this sounds like you, and you’re struggling with execution ideas for your own videos, find inspiration in our video trends.

To use templates to create your videos, look to a hype reel like Mini Promo by Colorama or a product promo template like Fashion Shop by MotionMediaGroup. Or add call-outs with this template by flikmotion, or experiment with explainer templates like Explainer Hands by Premiumilk.

04. Technology and eCommerce

It’s no surprise that in 2020 we’re seeing better capabilities, smarter products, and improved customer experience all the time. And there are actually a few different pillars of tech that are reaching into the eCommerce world:

Voice Commerce

There have been murmurs of all the things that voice tech will be doing for us in the years to come. Loup Ventures recently released figures that estimate 28% of US households had a smart speaker by the end of 2018. By 2025 the company has forecasted that 75% will, accounting for 100 million households. From Google Home to Amazon Echo to Apple HomePod, voice shopping is going to be a big thing—and definitely one to keep your eyes (and ears) on.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality has begun to infiltrate many areas of marketing, and eCommerce won’t be left out of this picture. AR (and VR) give retailers the ability to enhance the virtual shopping experiences they have on offer, and in a global climate where physical stores are having to rapidly adjust, it’s likely we’re about to see what some of the world’s biggest brands are capable of. As a taste of what could be to come, Ikea’s app lets users test furniture in a customer’s space, and supermarket retailers in the UK have trialled a virtual store tour.

Drone Delivery and Robot Delivery

In the US, DoorDash has been experimenting with robots to deliver food to customers. If you haven’t seen robot delivery in action yet, take a look at this video:

Groceries and food deliveries have also been slated as the first goods to be making their way to you via drone—in Mobile, Alabama, a local Buffalo Wild Wings has recently announced a trial delivery program for takeaway food. But drones for dropping medical supplies and delivering library books to school kids have also been buzzed about.

05. Chatbots and Personalization

When chatbots go wrong, they go really, annoyingly wrong—we’ve all experienced it. But chatbots and automated personalized services are getting better all the time. Beyond simply executing a question and answer service, some of the better chat services work by giving live personalized recommendations. 

Personalization in general is not new—it essentially means providing anything more than a single, catch-all experience. This means harnessing data to target shoppers based on their browsing behaviour or any other details they’ve provided through past interactions. 

Think Amazon’s product recommendations or Spotify’s account customization. One of the more impressive examples can be seen in UK clothing retailer Very and its weather personalization strategy. It works as it sounds: based on the weather in a customer’s local area, Very will recommend appropriate clothing. 

Try personalization out on your existing page or platforms with the WordPress Facebook Chat Plugin by Elfsight on Envato Elements. Or head over to CodeCanyon to check out Support Board, a chat plugin for WordPress, Speaker, a page-to-speech plugin for WordPress, Acquire’s AI powered chatbot or XeroChat, for multichannel use.

06. Diversity and Inclusion

These terms are bandied about a lot, but it’s high time that all brands took to incorporating a diverse and inclusive approach in their products and their marketing as standard. 

In the beauty industry in particular, the last few years have seen a reckoning, with some high-profile campaigns leading the way. Rihanna’s cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty, for example, backed its approach to inclusive marketing by highlighting previously underrepresented women and cultures in its launch trailer. Girlfriend Collective is another example, making diverse representation a rule in their approach (alongside ethical manufacturing and using recycled materials).

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More broadly, at Envato we're seeing increased demand for images that illustrate an inclusive and diverse society. For example, searches for photos containing the word ‘senior’ are up 45% across our photos marketplace and subscription service.

To incorporate this with your own photography needs, browse through our collections over on Twenty20, where stock photos are distinctly un-stock looking; rather they’re curated for real-word authenticity. For example, if you’re looking to talk about a social issue and need an impactful visual to accompany it, take a look through Twenty20’s Activism collection

07. Sustainable eCommerce

This is a trend that encompasses many sub-trends, but there is no industry untouched by sustainability—as a trend, ethos, and expectation. In the world of global citizens, your commitment to sustainable goals needs to be authentic and ongoing. 

Sustainable eCommerce encompasses all parts of the process, from product creation to delivery. This starts with ethical sourcing and is followed by eco-friendly supply chains (including aiming for zero waste and using 100% renewable energy). 

Minimalist packaging comes into this too, and for this the Envato Elements library of product templates can help, with a range of packaging mockups for everything from coffee packs and burger boxes to sock packages.

Going paperless is also turning into a given—and that means more chance for getting creative with your digital receipts, emails, and newsletters. Browse Envato’s library of email templates such as MyBag by Psd2Newsletters and ESHOP by williamdavidoff.

For the overall impression your brand is making, incorporating an eco look and feel can be part of your brand’s communication around change—or a way of championing your sustainable ethos if it’s always been there.

Take a look through some eco-themed illustrations, like the Sustainability Icons Pack by vidzhut or the Zero Waste Vector Clipart Pack by telllu, to enhance existing pages or assets. Or for an overhaul, look to web templates like Recycle, an environmental and green business WordPress theme, or Renergy, a solar and renewable energy WordPress theme, both available on ThemeForest. 

08. More Demand for Mobile Apps

Lastly, we’ve recently seen an increased demand for both mobile apps and related tools in our CodeCanyon library. It could be thanks to restaurants turning to online sales and deliveries, a boom in virtual communications, or many of the innovations in eCommerce at large.

In the UK, for example, research unsurprisingly showed huge increases in the use of communication apps such as Houseparty, WhatsApp, Skype, and Teams over the last few months. Whatever the reason, mobile apps remain a linchpin for selling products or services.

As a result, development tools for creating apps to run on multiple platforms—Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry—are proving popular. Over on CodeCanyon, check out the React App Builder, a SaaS mobile app builder you can use for an unlimited number of apps, or something like Fluxstore Pro, a Flutter eCommerce app which is compatible with top eCommerce frameworks including WooCommerce, Magento, and OpenCart.

If you need to start with an eCommerce website rather than an app, then take a look at Menzone - Modern eCommerce Template Kit by deTheme, which has been a particularly popular option over on Envato Elements.

So there you have it, eight trends that we believe are having a big impact on eCommerce in 2020. For more top trends, check out our recent roundups of this year's latest mockup trends, font trends, and Instagram trends.