The State of Internet Retail and Future of eCommerce in 2020 & Beyond

It is the phase of eCommerce where resurrection is all-prevalent across the ecosystem of commerce. Change is happening all around the retail space, be it online or brick and mortar.

 

Turning the focus towards online retail, convenience matters now more than ever. Online retail pioneers and forward-thinking industry retailers are raising the bar for the rest of the industry. It is 2020, and time to explore convenience, what it means today, and how retailers can position themselves to take on the challenge in the year ahead.

We are at the cross-section of cutting edge digitally native brands experimenting with voice commerce, to testing augmented reality-enabled online-to-offline (O2O) experiences. It is time for headless commerce and progressive web applications (PWA) where the world is becoming a storefront while the brands enable commerce via smart mirrors, video games, and live streams.

Even in the offline retail industry, the  second and third tier shopping malls are being resuscitated as experiential destinations with theme parks, ski hills, and water slides. Even legacy manufacturers and CPG companies are reinventing themselves by selling direct-to-consumer (DTC) to boost growth.

How does the horizon look?

Consider the return on assets or ROA, which is a common view of profitability and efficiency of retailers, and it will showcase a unique pattern that stands out which began in 2012. At the time when economy was in boom, the retailers saw major reductions in their return on assets. Even now when you check the statistics, median ROA in retail is at a point lower than the dips that took place during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009.

What is the reason for this change?

If you look closely at some of the most prominent mainline retailers, the ROA decline showcases a merger of competitive factors which puts considerable pressure on their profit model. Today, retail is at an all-time high in total sales. But this comes with a blow. It costs more to execute and deliver today than it has in the past.

Major factors challenging the existing paradigm are:

Return On Assets is on the down-hill because profitability is being suppressed across the entire value chain, since many retailers try to figure out how to win battles on multiple fronts. 

However, considering the silver lines across the horizon, the future of online and offline retail looks bright. Here are some of the trends that will shape the future of shopping for customers:

Direct-to-consumer Selling & Private-labelling

According to statistics, in 2019, e-retail sales accounted for 14.1 percent of all retail sales worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 22 percent in 2023. It is not new that manufacturers and traditional brands are repeatedly bypassing retail partners and selling DTC.

The first benefit manufacturers achieve when they sell directly to consumers is the ownership of customer relationships. Brands do not have to depend on retail partners in order to protect and promote their brand. With direct relationships to end consumers, manufacturers get the benefit of receiving continuous support from the customers after the sales.

Another benefit of selling directly to consumers is that you can offer personalised products to them. By selling directly, it positions the brands to provide experiences which were not previously possible with traditional retail stores. Such DTC brands are increasingly enabling shoppers to design custom packaging, mix and match custom assortments, or take part in contests while becoming brand evangelists.

The rise of private-label brands is the key byproduct of DTC selling method.

Consumers have become willing enough to abandon brand loyalty for private-label products. Consumers perceive this as better value for money. Additionally, private-label brands are taking share in both online and in brick-and-mortar stores.

On top of this, consumers aren’t just turning to private-label brands to save money—they’re turning to premium private-label brands. Premium private-label products, the ones that are considered to be of higher quality than branded products sell at higher price points.

The World of Mobile Commerce

According to the research from statista, in 2021, close to 53.9 percent of all retail e-commerce is expected to be generated via m-commerce. As of February 2017, Amazon was the most popular shopping app in the United States with a mobile reach of 40 percent, even ahead of local competitors Walmart and eBay. 

The data also shows that the average value of smartphone shopping orders in the United States as of fourth quarter 2016 amounted to 79 U.S. dollars, compared to 98 U.S. dollars per online order via tablet.

Coming to the point of mobile commerce, just because your eCommerce platform theme offers a responsive site doesn’t necessarily mean that you as a business owner are providing a great mobile experience. Even today, the conversion rates on mobile are less than half those of desktop. 

Mobile bounce rates are around 10–20% higher than desktop even today.

In order to offer the maximum beneficial mobile experience to consumers, most brands today are opting for progressive web applications (PWAs). They can live on a user’s home screen and load instantly regardless  of whether the user is online or not. 

PWAs are a major part of headless commerce strategy which helps teams collaborate and work on the front- and back-end systems together to improve mobile performance further.

Productivity Boost with Automation

Industry pioneers and business leaders are constantly putting operations on autopilot and will continue doing so in the coming years. Automation will be extremely beneficial to brands expanding internationally that requires operating multiple stores and larger inventory and fulfillment networks.

eCommerce Automation:- eCommerce automation rules out a myriad of the manual, repetitive, and time-consuming tasks which reduce productivity. It helps in simplifying cross-border commerce to a great extent, reduces the risk of human error in managing multiple stores, and offers a best-in-class shopping experience to the customers. 

Warehouse robotics:- Major brands who operate their own warehouse are and will increasingly consider robotics to slash down on costs and become more efficient. You will find more than 3,000 robot-enabled fulfillment centers around the world today.

Sustainable eCommerce

Consumers easily connect with and want brands who lead with their values and morals. Previously, brands could align themselves with a social cause and that would work out for them. However, that is not enough these days. Consumers want companies to act as good global citizens, they want them to use green manufacturing practices, eco-friendly supply chains, and reduced waste packaging.

Sustainable manufacturing:- Distributed Manufacturing Systems are being implemented in order to realise sustainable and environment friendly manufacturing. What these systems do is that they are basically decentralized networks of adaptable and flexible mini-factories. When you put manufacturing closer to the end consumer, it highly reduces the emissions by cutting transportation requirements. 

It also helps in stimulating regional economies which can benefit from jobs produced for the locals. When you decentralize the manufacturing process, it also improves flexibility and positions your brand to reconfigure faster if consumer taste or behavior changes rapidly.

Voice Recognition based Purchase

Pertaining to recent advancements in smart speaker technology and intelligent personal assistants, many consumers today are able to reap the actual benefits offered by science fiction robots, without the threatening personalities. Devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo pair with intelligent personal assistants such as Google Assistant and Alexa to execute commands, search the web, and control other smart devices.

According to statistics, the market revenues in this industry is eclipsing 11 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 and market revenue projections of over 27 billion in 2022. The two most popular brands in the smart speaker market are Amazon’s Echo/Alexa and Google Home/Google Assistant followed by smaller brands like Alibaba, Xiaomi, and Apple, whose HomePod made its debut at the beginning of 2018.

Data says that everyday household items are the most common products to be purchased via voice these days. On top of that, buying apparel items is nearly just as common. Isn’t this a clear indicator about the next path to purchase being voice? It also states that consumers are inclined to purchase more of what they need via voice in the future.

Brands or manufacturers in future will explore the home assistant market with Amazon Echo Dot users.  They will be compelled to create, say for example an Alexa “skill,” which are programmed commands like “Alexa, ask the Toy Corp what kind of Toys are available,” or “Alexa, checkout,” the assistant in return can search your store for products and even make voice-powered purchases.

Conclusion

Understanding and analysing fresh trends is like a breath of fresh air. It brings in immense possibilities and all-new ideas to get a headstart in this ever so competitive world. Most importantlyBusiness Management Articles, these trends mark a new era growth for someone like a WordPress or Magento development company who can easily plan well in advance for upcoming requests from their clients and customers.

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