The Future of Ecommerce – Looking at What’s in Store for 2020 & Beyond

To consider how far ecommerce has come, just consider that the very first item ever ordered online was a book, from Amazon, in 1995. The fleet of Amazon delivery trucks we’re now seeing daily dropping off packages – mostly of the non-book variety – is a testament to how large the ecommerce industry has grown. Today, ecommerce has generated trillions in sales worldwide.

Ecommerce has fundamentally altered how, when, and where we shop. As more and more traditional shopping centers and malls shut down – a phenomenon exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic – ecommerce will continue to stake its claim as the preferred method of shopping for the majority of U.S. consumers.

Improved customization, enhanced return policies, and better integration have all contributed to ecommerce’s rise in popularity. Going forward, a number of new and emerging trends will only further enhance the appeal of ecommerce.

Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting and exciting ecommerce trends we’re looking at for 2020 and beyond.

Online Sales Growth Will Only Continue to Rise

Even before most of us became stuck at home, online shopping ranked as one of consumer’s favorite online activities. Online sales have been predicted to grow from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $4.5 trillion in 2021 (Statista). That’s massive growth on the scale of increasing threefold in just 7 years.

As ecommerce sales have increased, so too have the number the ecommerce-only stores. The rise in ecommerce sites can be attributed to a number of factors. One primary factor – the increased level of comfort provided by online shopping. The joys of shopping for new jeans while wearing sweatpants on your couch shouldn’t be underestimated.

However, convenience alone isn’t enough to attribute for how much ecommerce has grown. Technology has also played an important role.

It wasn’t long ago that many consumers felt uncertain about the idea of putting their credit card number into an online form. Now, credit card numbers are stored in our keychains, browsers, and even on our smartphones. We’ve grown more comfortable with our private information being out in public thanks largely to improvements in cyber security and end-to-end encryption.

The buying experience has also improved. Digital shopping carts have made buying and comparing items relatively simple and straightforward. User interfaces have been simplified and streamlined to create a seamless process of “click to buy.”

In a pandemic when leaving the home can literally be a matter of life and death, the inroads made by ecommerce into how we shop will only continue to grow. There’s no going back from the ecommerce revolution. It’s now simply a matter of positioning your business to take advantage of how the majority of consumers today prefer to shop.

The Role of Ecommerce After COVID

Its’s impossible to assess the future of ecommerce without taking into consideration what the ongoing pandemic has done for online sales.

Government shutdowns of non-essential businesses forced nearly all consumers to turn online to find the creature comforts they’d normally have purchased from a local boutique or major box store. The pandemic has forced Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, and other major brands to increase hiring just to keep up with demand generated largely by online shopping.

Ordering your groceries, home improvement supplies, and even toilet paper online and arranging for delivery or curbside pickup is now the new normal. The pandemic may have started this new influx of online shopping, but even a future vaccine won’t cure consumer’s desire to continue shopping through ecommerce platforms. Long after we as a nation awake from the COVID-19 nightmare, having an employee of a major business walk the aisles to complete your grocery/shopping list will still offer significant appeal.

Market analysts predict the ecommerce industry will rank as the biggest beneficiary of the coronavirus pandemic. Penetration rates, which currently reside around 15 percent, are anticipated to grow to 25 percent by 2025 (MarketWatch). That’s a 67 percent increase over just 5 years.

Mobile Remains the Future and the Present

It may have taken some business time to get onboard, but mobile remains king. Since 2016, sales made through mobile devices have increased by 15 percent. By the end of 2021, market experts predict that 73 percent of all ecommerce sales will be made via a mobile device (Statista). The numbers make clear that no successful business can afford to ignore the role mobile plays in generating online sales.

The huge rise seen in ecommerce growth has been driven partly by the use of mobile devices. Consumers don’t just sit down in front of their desktop or laptop when the time comes to make a purchase online. They use their mobile devices to conduct research and to browse before making a purchase.

As consumers have become more comfortable and confident about shopping online, they’re now becoming used to the idea that their mobile device can be their primary buying portal. This is especially true of Millennials and Gen Z, generations who’ve only known life as part of the digital age. Consumers in these age groups are far more likely to use their mobile devices to shop online when compared to older age groups.

Every website should be mobile optimized now. But, have you taken the time to ensure your ecommerce platform works just as smoothly on a mobile device as it does on a laptop or desktop? By taking this step, you’re making ecommerce easier and more accessible for a huge portion of your potential customer base.

The ecommerce industry appears to be an unstoppable juggernaut. While online shopping trends were already on the rise, the impact of COVID-19 has caused the entire industry to jump ahead several years. Check back with the Suresby blog next week as we continue our examination of what to the future may hold for ecommerce in 2020 and beyond.