Online trends in 2020 that are shaping the future of retail

2020 has completely reshaped the way the world does retail. The first half of 2020 saw a drastic shift online. For a time, the industry struggled with demand, yet today it is thriving with innovation and new opportunities the digital space is bringing. Over 25% of the world’s entire population are online shoppers, at a staggering 2.05 billion – this number is only predicted to increase in the coming years.

Digital Buyers Online Retail Trends ZigZag


With 80% of online shoppers agreeing that new technologies and innovations improve their experience, tech trends are emerging fast. In this article, we will explore 2020 retail trends that are helping pave the way for the future of retail, both for sellers and consumers worldwide.

Shopping Tech Online Retail Trends ZigZag


Online Retail Trends Shaping the Future

Customer-care comes first

The customer is always right.” If you have ever worked in a customer-facing role before, you’ll surely be familiar with the saying. However, today this means so much more than siding with the customer. Brands now advocate for the customer.

CX Online Retail Trends ZigZag


What does this mean? It means retailers are championing consumer needs over their gain. They are pro-active in getting customer feedback, rather than reactive to complaints, identifying unused subscription services and highlighting them to customers, and much more. It is helping them win brand loyalty and retain customers long-term.

Prime Membership Online Retail Trends ZigZag


We are not only seeing this trend in the way brands are communicating with customers but also how they are handling their information. Ever since European GDPR compliance came into effect, customers are so much more aware of how their data is handled and who they give it to in the first place.

Brands have had to adapt their data strategy to not only manage data with the customer in mind but also to reassure someone they are using it correctly and in a way that would only benefit them.

On-demand services are growing

Services like Netflix and Spotify have given so many people access to precisely what they are looking for as quickly as they can type it out. However, what does this mean for retail?

An omnichannel experience has now jumped from 20% to 80% as brands focus on being a few clicks away from wherever their customers are. Long-gone are the days of only being reachable by email or phone.

However, these touchpoints need to be rapid. Sprout Social found 40% of consumers expect brands to reply within an hour on social media alone. People are expecting the same urgency with responses as they get with their services.

It does not stop at customer care. On-demand services translate to delivery times, and even page load speed. 53% of mobile visits are abandoned if a page takes more than three seconds to load.

Systems and processes need to be as optimised as possible if you are hoping to win and retain customers. If you are not giving someone what they want quickly enough, they will look at your competition instead.

People want personalised experiences

Today, 74% of consumers feel frustrated when an online shopping experience isn’t personal, and 91% of consumers say they’re more likely to shop with a brand that provides relevant offers and recommendations. There is no questioning it, consumers are looking for a more personalised shopping experience, and they are willing to trade data for it.

Data is front, back, and centre of this initiative and this is precisely the way brands should be using consumer data – to benefit the shopping experience.

Think of ways you can collect and use data to your retail business’s advantage. It does not always need to be with paid tools. Google Analytics, social media, and even quizzes can be a great way of collecting and using data that benefits everyone.

Breadbrand Online Retail Trends ZigZag


What you need to be cautious of is how accurate your data is; an astonishing 71% of people studied that were shown data about themselves said it was only 0-50% accurate. Consider using some best quality data tools to ensure all of your customer data is accurate and helps create personalised campaigns that sell.

A focus on quick deliveries and returns

On-demand services and customer-care combine forces here for quicker deliveries and return options than ever before. Alongside post-COVID tech to ensure a safer offline shopping experience for customers, tech is advancing to provide a safer online experience.

How can people possibly be at risk when shopping from their own home? Businesses are finding solutions to deliver and return goods that are minimal risk— contactless drop-offs, coronavirus tracking, all of these things are ensuring the safety of everyone that comes into contact with a parcel along the way— while remaining fast and efficient.

A rise in “reCommerce”

Sustainability is becoming more apparent than ever, and notoriously high-turnover fashion retailers need to embrace consumer cries for a more sustainable world of fashion.

In the final quarter of 2020 and leaning into 2021, we will begin to see retailers offering ways to resell barely used products. We already see it with apps like Closit, Poshmark, and Vinted, but this trend will move more mainstream in the years to come.

Recommerce Online Retail Trends ZigZag


AR and VR tech expands

 Stasia predicted that the retail industry would see a drastic increase in reality technologies, jumping sales to $7 billion worldwide in 2020, helping to keep people safe and at home.

Retailers are now looking to minimise returns and capitalise on this technology by giving buyers as accurate an overview as possible of products and reducing returns that are currently sitting at a predicted 25% of all online purchases.

AR and VR technologies are ever-expanding. Brands like L’Oréal, Kendra Scott, and Suitsupply are already exploring creative ways to use the tech and get their product in the consumer’s hands, pre-purchase.

AR VR Online Retail Trends ZigZag


Bot services find new routes

The future is here, and Will Smith was right— it futures robots. We’re all used to chatbots by now helping to lift our site experience, in fact, 47% of organisations are expected to host a chatbot in 2020.

However, bots are now taking to the streets, as retailers begin to explore bot-supported deliveries. Amazon drones and Starship street delivery robots are among the first to reduce delivery times, emissions and provide contactless delivery options in the UK and US.


A push for reviews

Gen Z is savvier than most. They ae the most informed generation for their age, with the entire world at their fingertips and modern technology coming second nature.

However, what does that mean for retail? It means this next generation of buyers is empowered to make their own decisions, understand great marketing rather than fall for it, and have an attention span shorter than ever before.

A huge part of marketing efforts will now fall on reviews, and reviews from verified buyers— as well as supported by video or images. In 2020, brands will be pushing their buyers to leave reviews of their products. Word of mouth has always been one of the strongest forms of marketing, and now more than ever, that is the case in retail.

Reviews Online Retail Trends ZigZag


In-app opportunities

An app is a product any big retailer should be always be improving. For as much as you can optimise a mobile website, you can do so much more with an app. Apps allow brands to give someone a truly personal shopping experience, and the smoothest checkout possible.

What do brands need to include in their product requirements document for an app to stay ahead of trends?

  • Reviews
  • Video & images
  • Social shares— including private messaging channels
  • Checkout options
  • Wish Lists
  • AR & VR options
  • Notifications
  • Location-specific campaigns
  • UX, UX, UX

Nike Online Retail Trends ZigZag


Continuing to support local businesses

The 2020 crisis saw people around the world rally to support small businesses. Some of the most creative branches of our commerce community are in these small to medium stores, and it was inspiring to see so many begin buying from smaller stores to keep them going. We even saw social media giants make supporting easier than ever before.

LuckyShrub Online Retail Trends ZigZag


Building on this, if brands really want to get ahead of the game, then it is likely collaborations between smaller influencers, designers, and local businesses with mainstream stores will become more commonplace. Big stores will begin to sing about how they are collaborating and supporting local people to keep micro-economies afloat and retain customer’s loyalty.

TikTok and shop

TikTok has swept the nation, it’s the most downloaded app in the Apple store, and 41% of its users are between 16-24. While the algorithm still finds its feet, people find worlds of new content they would never typically search for. In turn, people are discovering products they never knew they needed.

TikTok Online Retail Trends ZigZag


While TikTok influencer strategies are still being fleshed out by many, it is certainly something to watch out for in the years to come. Right now, the platform feels organic, which means it is selling products. Whether that remains the same or moves over to the #ad and #sponsored heavy Instagram aesthetic is yet to be known. The US may still go ahead with removing TikTok from app stores, which will halt future new downloads.

Eco-Anxious buyers

67% of the world is worried about climate change. The situation is real, and the panic around it is massive. Consumers are torn between wanting new products quickly, while at the same time wanting to do minimal damage to their carbon footprint.

It is a tricky place to be in, and businesses need to find a middle ground to please both parts. Amazon is doing it well with an option to group items into as few deliveries as possible. The Kind Store is also doing it well leading with its ten principles for a sustainable business. More and more brands are now beginning to follow suit, and meet consumers’ cries for help.

TheKindStore Online Retail Trends ZigZag


Wrapping it all up— plastic-free

There is no questioning there are big things on the horizon for retail brands in 2020 and beyond. We are moving towards a more customer-centric, eco-anxious, and rapid world of retail. It will have its pros and its cons, but one thing we can certainly all agree on is it is an industry where innovation is at its finest.