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7 biggest trends that will drive commerce success in 2020

It’s 2009. You have the latest phone with a keyboard; you are sending tweets through SMS; online shopping is for books on Amazon; Facebook is only used by students; Toys R Us remains the go-to for black Friday shopping (#RIP). Fast forward a decade, consumers can open an app, buy a car and go to a car vending machine to pick it up. 

10 years ago, consumers (and business leaders) alike could never imagine how ingrained the digital world would be in our lives at the dawn of the next decade. As 2020 rapidly approaches it brings a new set of challenges and technological developments; consumers have spent the last decade creating new standards that brands and retailers struggle to keep up with and meet. Businesses who are forward-thinking and implement innovative omni-channel experiences will not meet the same fate as some of the most iconic brands across the world have in the 2010s. 

That begs the question, where should we be investing our energy and resources to deliver the next best digital experiences and maintain relevance? 

Augmented Reality & Artificial Intelligence Enabled Shopping Expands 

Augmented reality

When Wayfair launched their augmented reality tool allowing shoppers to “view furniture in 3D” in their home using the online retailer’s mobile app in 2018, it showcased how AR could be leveraged to create a more trustworthy shopping experience on digital channels. Other industries are taking note and running with the idea: L’Oreal announced the expansion of their new virtual try-on capabilities that unites the digital and brick & mortar experiences by encouraging shoppers to try on different lipstick shades, whether they’re in-store or in the comfort of their own home.

Buy Online Pick Up in-Store Will Continue to Grow

Canon Camera Selector

Sometimes shoppers don’t want to wait for 2-day delivery, but they also don’t have time to peruse a store for hours looking for an item. Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) solves this conundrum for consumers, and helps retailers maintain a strong footfall in an increasingly digital world. Consider how the largest hardware store in the US, Home Depot, had nearly half of their online orders fulfilled under this model in Q4 2018 with the 94% of customers rating the ease of BOPIS with in-store lockers as a 5 star experience. For retailers looking to maximize omni-channel experiences, BOPIS is a strategy that they’ll be remiss to dismiss. 

Conversational Search to Overcome Choice Overload 

With an overwhelming amount of product options in any given category, consumers experience choice overload every time they search online. The outdated expectation that shoppers should self-navigate thousands of products to select the right one is largely ineffective and leads to frustration and often abandonment. Brands must take responsibility for guiding consumers to narrow search down. Conversational search solves that problem by enabling brands to use natural language processing and artificial intelligence (AI) to create guided experiences that empower consumers and help them make the correct purchase decision. 

Voice Search Optimization is Critical 

According to a recent report released by Braze and e-Marketer, 4 in 10 shoppers will look to their smart speaker to make a purchase inquiry or decision. This requires brands and retailers to translate the features and specs of their product range into human language that allows consumers to search using voice command. If a consumer asks their device to help them find the perfect camera for their family vacation, brands and retailers need to be able to respond and make conversational search a pillar of their marketing strategy. 

Digital Native Brands Open Brick & Mortar

How does a digitally native brand know they are successful in their niche? Opening their own brick & mortar stores. While legacy brands shut down their physical spaces, D2C brands that have won the hearts and wallets of their audience are growing rapidly. In the next 5 years, digitally native brands will open up over 850 permanent locations and continue to experiment with experiential pop-ups to drive awareness and interact with their customers in person for the first time. In 2020, legacy brands and retailers should take note on how DTC brands create memorable moments for shoppers by leveraging their customer-centric mindset. 

More Consumers will use Social Commerce

social commerce


Don’t sleep on enabling social shopping–almost 12% of Instagram users (130 million) tap on shopping posts on the platform. As consumers take advantage of fast check-out on the platform, brands will need to differentiate their products by developing informative and interactive content experiences to win over the social commerce shopper. With more investment in AR and AI, Instagram is beta-testing the virtual try on capabilities with brands like MAC, Nars, Ray-Ban, and Warby-Parker to help drive consumer confidence and create innovative experiences customers crave. Adding social commerce as a priority in 2020 enables brands to take advantage of fast and growing revenue streams and adapt to new updates and capabilities as soon as they are available.

Customer-First Strategy Wins Every Time 

At the center of each trend for driving success in 2020 is becoming truly customer-centric. Consumers are overloaded with options and they become loyal to brands and retailers who consider their needs and create cross-channel experiences that are authentic, relevant – and simple. If there is one concept to guide all marketing strategy in 2020 and beyond it’s: consumers want to be presented with the right product for them and brands need to be obsessed with delivering that the moment wherever and whenever a consumer shows intent and begins to search.

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Caroline Egan is the Global Content Team Lead at Zoovu with a background in content marketing and e-commerce technology. She is passionate about educating businesses about modernizing their approach to the intersection of e-commerce and brick & mortar and how to delight customers with unique digital experiences. When not working, Caroline can be found at early morning work out classes, cooking, and sharing a bottle of wine with friends.