For all the (justified?) hype about voice, AI, New Retail, single view of the customer, take your pick – the most interesting developments in ecommerce are much broader.

Yep, we want to trust retailers with our data, avoid being duped by dark patterns, find some meaning and purpose in all that lovely shopping, as well as convenience, of course.

Oh and we don’t want ecommerce to endanger those enriching high-street retail experiences.

So, what do our experts think? They’ve had a bash. Enjoy!

(And for more, there’s our all-new Ecommerce Best Practice Guide and our Ecommerce Trends report)

Death of the clickbait decade

Parry Malm, CEO, Phrasee:

“Examples of dodgy marketing tactics used to sell more stuff have been around for decades. Think back to the 1980s when White Gold-esque double-glazing salesmen tried to schmooze their way to profit and success.

“While the greasy double-glazing salesman profiteers may have died a death, their spawn survive online. Now it’s a tailspin of clickbait that permeates our daily lives. “There’s only 3 rooms left”, and “You’ve only got 30… 29… 28… seconds to BUY BUY BUY!”, and “Act NOW or we’ll club this baby seal!”

“The problem with race-to-the-bottom marketing is that it’s short-termist. People think, “I need to hit my quarterly KPIs and I’ll do anything to make that happen.” But by focusing on short-term metrics in a post-truth world, you are eroding your long-term brand equity.

“Short-termism and exploiting people’s emotions & vulnerability is SO last decade. The new decade is about doubling down on your messaging and realising that your brand voice matters. Focusing on dwell time with your brand and producing valuable content that engages your audience is the only thing that will prevent you from being the unenviable winner of the race-to-the-bottom.”

Wanted: viable alternatives to cookie-based tracking

James Gurd, Owner and Ecommerce Replatforming Consultant, Digital Juggler:

“…with privacy protection, we’ve seen continued activity from leading browsers to enable better protection in terms of blocking cookies and tracking, with the latest version of Apple’s ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention), which cracked down on ad tracking. 2.1 has also targeted first party cookies, which has impacted analytics data and reporting.

“For what I’d like to see in 2020, I’ll continue with the security/privacy theme. I’d like to see a more open debate about viable alternatives to traditional cookie-based tracking. There are respected ecommerce consultants like Pierre Far, founder of Blockmetry, who are delivering solutions that are designed to work alongside ad and content blocking. It’s an area ecommerce teams need to think carefully about, because being reliant on cookies for tracking, measuring and marketing is becoming increasingly fraught with inaccuracy.”

The online and the offline blur

Nikki Gilliland, writer, Econsultancy:

“In the UK this year, footfall on Black Friday increased for the first time since 2016. This doesn’t necessarily indicate a resurgence for physical retail, but it does show more of a consumer demand for omni-channel (and specifically, online to offline) services.

“Indeed, the lines between online and offline retail became increasingly blurry in 2019. Retailers integrated more digital technology into stores, and started to offer in-demand services like click-and-collect, QR code scanning, and instant checkout. Alongside this, DNVB brands – like AllBirds and Glossier – have been expanding their physical footprint, using brick-and-mortar stores to create interactive and often immersive brand experiences.”

Does PSD2 chime with UX?

James Gurd, Digital Jugller:

“PSD2 is an interesting development to payment security. The requirement for strong customer authentication has raised concerns amongst some merchants that it will kill the user experience and thus conversion rate. However, the payment specialists who have led the way in adopting the new measures are able to help retailers manage this carefully and use exemptions to ensure transactions that don’t need SCA don’t put customers through unnecessary hurdles.”

AI becomes table stakes

Raj Balasundaram, SVP Artificial Intelligence, Emarsys:

“Ecommerce will go from being “reactive” to “proactive”: Ecommerce interactions have always been reactive; however with adoption of machine learning many processes will become proactive. For example: Brands will be able to identify customers who are likely to make a purchase, abandon cart or even return items. Based on the predictions they can personalise their experience.

“Apart from basic “machine learning’ algorithms, collaborative AI technologies will become table stakes. Ecommerce AI algorithms will be working hand in hand with other AI algorithms from CRM and ERP.”

Fast fashion on borrowed time?

Nikki Gilliland, Econsultancy:

“Looking ahead to 2020, we could potentially see consumer interest in sustainability and environmental issues impact fast fashion ecommerce brands. These retailers offer up an undeniable dichotomy for younger consumers who want affordable clothing, but with Gen Z becoming increasingly socially conscious, we are seeing many turn towards second-hand and resale apps like Depop.

“If this continues, it could even turn out to be the year that the mighty Boohoo struggles to maintain its (formerly triumphant) sales momentum.”

GDPR headaches persist

James Gurd, Digital Juggler:

“GDPR has created a few headaches for marketers, as some organisations have taken quite severe action to cull any customer data that wasn’t obtained in a compliant manner, rather than exploring how best to minimise data loss via encouraging fresh opt-in and/or understanding where legitimate interest would be sufficient to enable continued communication.

“The legal line drawn has varied from company to company, with some more risk-averse than others. I still find many people don’t fully understand what legitimate interest is and when you can use it to enable marketing communication without an explicit consent (I’m sure I don’t fully understand all use cases!).”

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