China’s rising digital influence, in-store facial recognition, and in-fridge delivery among top eCommerce trends for 2020



eCommerce revenue now represents 10.7% of U.S. retail sales. With 47% of eCommerce transactions (or 5% of all U.S. retail sales), Amazon has surpassed Walmart as the world’s largest retailer. Globally, online’s share of total retail sales is now 16.4%, with eCommerce accounting for more than three-quarters of overall retail growth. Fueled by digital, retail is, in fact, growing.

Absolunet unveils the top 10 eCommerce trends to watch for in 2020, developments that brands and retailers need to consider to bridge the gap between how they sell today and what their customers expect in the digital economy of tomorrow.

Since 2015, Absolunet‘s 10 eCommerce Trends report has predicted the following year’s eCommerce Trends with an impressive 87.5% accuracy rate.

“After years of innovation and technology selection, brands and retailers are now competing on speed, efficiency and simplicity of experience – all the while juggling increased data, accessibility and privacy concerns.” says Charles Desjardins, Absolunet Executive Vice President. “Commerce has transcended physical and digital channels, the “e” in “eCommerce” is becoming superfluous. We hope the 10 eCommerce Trends report helps retailers, manufacturers and distributors gain valuable insight and helps them choose the right strategies and partners to bridge the eCommerce gap.”

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The Ten eCommerce Trends that will define 2020 are:

    Cracks are starting to appear in the eCommerce conglomerate’s previously impenetrable armor.

The days of Amazon breaking into or simply breaking industries without supervision or oversight may be numbered. As anti-Amazon sentiment grows, talks of antitrust issues get louder and brands begin to question the value/cost of working with Amazon.

In November, Nike announced it was ending its association with Amazon and removing all Nike products from the platform. The AAFA, an association that represents over 1,000 brands, including Adidas, Gap, and Target accused Amazon of creating a black market of counterfeit goods.

    Out with the tired park-and-shop formula, in with the modern interaction and experience-based destination.

Digitally-savvy malls are becoming foodie destinations as chef-driven food-halls, sushi bars and premium coffee shops now represent 25% of the square footage in Class A malls. Now located in malls, office space, gyms and schools offer proximity, convenience and experiences.

    Facial recognition and device tracking transform in-store visits into valuable data as merchants get closer to true omnichannel.

Physical retailers are bridging the gap between online and in-person data collection with cameras, facial recognition, tracking beacons, Point-of-Sale (POS) data and traditional digital measurement and analytics.

Just as online retailers can understand the movement of users on their site, brick-and-mortar locations use WiFi, sensors, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) beacons and more. The goal is to identify high-traffic areas in the store, overlooked products, dwell time – even product movement from rack to fitting room.

    Fast & free shipping will be an option for every merchant.

2020 will be a tipping point for “fast and free shipping” as Amazon’s logistics and shipping business aims to disrupt the courier and postal industry; the eCommerce giant will move from client to competitor for virtually every major carrier. After the US Postal Service, UPS and FedEx, consumers can expect to see Amazon’s logo on vehicles delivering parcels.

    The Rise of Privacy by Design + consumers choosing which brands can access their information.

Consumers have been trading data for access (social media) and rewards (loyalty programs) for decades.

Consumers know their data (in-store movement, online browsing, geo-location) is being used. And for the first time, they are coming to the bargaining table, ready to negotiate. Brands and merchants will move from trying to capture as much user data as possible to engaging in an exchange of value.


The world leader in digital commerce will unleash its shoppers and technologies on the world.

42% of the world’s eCommerce transactions happen in China, up from 1% in 2005 – a market larger than the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany and Japan combined. In fact, at $1.94 trillion, it is three times bigger than the US market. Their mobile-savvy population has enabled payment, ordering, fulfillment, automation and personalization technologies to develop at breakneck speeds. Whereas 65% of US mobile users are still reluctant to use mobile payment, China boasts a 100% adoption rate. And now, Chinese consumers and technologies are expanding beyond the Great Wall.

As Chinese tourism booms, tourists bring their devices, digital habits (QR code payment!) and expectations with them, encouraging merchants worldwide to adopt and integrate Chinese technologies, platforms and interfaces, fast-forwarding many merchants’ degree of digital sophistication. Combined, Wechat Pay and Alipay have 1.7 billion users, 10 times more than Apple Pay.


Fulfillment, order management and logistics are the new battleground for the digital consumer.

By having merchandise available in strategically-placed, robo-staffed and courier optimized warehouses, merchants are now competing on simplicity of experience, process, and functionality. Warehouse construction has grown 29% annually for the past 5 years, much of it attributable to eCommerce and fulfillment.


Brands and retailers start looking beyond the Google/Facebook duopoly

Overwhelmed consumers are becoming harder and more expensive to reach through traditional, interruption-based, pay-per-click/view campaigns.

Non-traditional, more native and embedded brand exposure is becoming increasingly common. Brands and merchants are creating content and experiences that get talked about – simultaneously gathering data and creating direct connections with consumers, instead of relying on the “walled gardens” of Amazon, Facebook and Google.


Merchants take delivery into people’s vehicles, households, and appliances

After “free”, two-day, one-day and same-day shipping comes shipping directly into the trunk of your car / in your garage / in your refrigerator. As the shipping wars escalate (Trend #4), carriers and merchants are looking to increase the convenience of deliveries by going into people’s homes and cars thanks to remote access technology.

Aside from convenience, these methods of delivery aim to make grocery shopping easier/possible/safer (avoiding thawing or melting ice cream, for example) as well as reducing package theft which, in turn, may reduce the cost or anxiety of delivering/receiving valuable items, such as consumer electronics or jewelry.


The inbox is the new browser. Consumers and buyers will do everything from choosing product sizes to browsing carrousels, opening menus, choosing colors, leaving ratings and reviews, etc. – without ever leaving their inbox, the email or mail app. Brands and merchants can make emails significantly more interactive, browsable and actionable, including media-rich formats like video.

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