BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

Consumer demands for a frictionless, personalised experience which caters to their lifestyle needs are becoming ever more pressing. The result is retail trends in 2020 that will focus on creating a customised experience that supports and enhances shopping in the virtual environment, facilitating the buying journey.

Derek Cikes, Commercial Director at payment fintech Payflex, shares the top 8 online retail trends for the year ahead.

1. Omnichannel Retailing
As shoppers expand their touch points with a brand, the online and bricks-and-mortar channels will increasingly merge into a seamless omni-channel experience within the brand ecosystem. In order to facilitate this, merchants need to provide shoppers with an integrated shopping experience across all channels that allows shoppers to browse, shop and return items across in-store and online channels.

2. Pop-up Shops
2020 will see pop-up shops expanding beyond brand awareness to provide shoppers with a curated shopping experience. Leveraging the scarcity and exclusivity principles associated with these temporary storefronts, shoppers will have access to novel or limited brand items.  Brands in turn will have the opportunity to engage one-on-one with their customers while collecting shopper data.

This intimate connection will also enable pop-up stores to take on a new position of facilitating brand experiences rather than only focusing on the commercial aspect of a retail pop-up store.

“By providing a compelling pop-up experience, brands are able to differentiate themselves and establish a unique relationship with their target market,” says Cikes.

3. User Experience
User experience will be optimised by levering online channels. Simplicity is the key, enabling the user to effortlessly navigate the website and find and acquire the desired items.

This includes reducing the number of steps needed to complete a payment transaction such as the seamless single click checkout process which can dramatically increase sales conversions. “Our experience has shown that the Payflex 1-click checkout process can reduce cart abandonment by a whopping 40% –  a huge benefit for e-commerce merchants,” says Cikes.

4. Online Security
Concerns about online security and privacy are one of the key challenges to growing online sales in South Africa.  To provide comfort to shoppers, 2020 will see a focus on creating a secure online infrastructure and being transparent about the use of data, so that shoppers feel comfortable sharing their financial information.

5. The Customer Journey
The year ahead will see online stores optimising the customer journey through each touchpoint with the brand.  This will translate into establishing a strong online communications infrastructure, supporting customers through a variety of online and social media platforms throughout their purchasing journey. This optimises the shopper’s online experience, allowing the next steps to follow naturally – increasing conversions, customer retention and eventually brand advocacy.

6. Payment Choices
Consumers are increasingly wary of incurring debt to purchase lifestyle goods, which has opened the door to alternative non-credit pay-later solutions, such as Payflex. “Customers want more control of their spending, encouraging the online retail industry to incorporate payment experiences which meet their needs, such as the free spending solution from Payflex which can boost sales by 20-30%,” says Cikes.

7. Online Ubiquity
The increase in social media retailing demands a pervasive online brand presence where shoppers can engage in a seamless experience with the brand and buy products directly from social media channels in a contained, accessible environment such as Instagram.

8. Machine Learning
The year ahead will leverage the capabilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide more personalised shopping experiences. By using data and search history, merchants can curate products and services specific to the shopper’s needs and likes.   This results in being able to customize each shopping experience such as with sites like Amazon, where automatic suggestions are made in addition to the purchase or music sites such as Spotify or Deeza which leverage machine learning to provide a personal playlist based on a user’s data and online search and listening history.

The inter-relatedness of consumer demands and technological innovations creates one of the central themes of online retail in 2020 – a symbiotic relationship between shopper and technology. “This will play out in new avenues of innovation which meet consumer demands while leveraging technology to create a meaningful online experience, moving shoppers further along the customer journey to facilitate successful conversions,” concludes Cikes.