The E-Commerce Trends to Watch in 2020, and What They Mean for the Future of Buying

by Janey Zitomer
December 12, 2019

What do pay-what-you-want options, data mining and direct-to-consumer adoption have in common? They’re all up-and-coming e-commerce trends, according to the following NYC managers in wholesale alcohol, finance and martech. 

SevenFifty CMO Adam Van Fossen specifically mentioned the benefits personalization has had on companies’ advertising efforts. With increased visibility into consumer preferences comes greater responsibility. It also provides the opportunity for a tailored approach to service, a benefit that spans industries ranging from real estate to healthcare.  



We spoke to Bluecore’s Manager, Customer Success Joseph Ford about how the retail marketing technology company is changing the way retailers use data to communicate with shoppers by offering a fundamentally different email solution. Basically, they're able to replace manual processes with an intelligent, AI-driven workflow. And according to Ford, increased personalization is just the beginning.


What are the top three e-commerce trends you're watching that are significantly impacting the industry? 

Artificial Intelligence

“The ability to track and store large amounts of activity and customer data creates a need for a smarter, more efficient way to aggregate and disseminate all of that information meaningfully and actionably,” said Ford. “AI can bring that to the table for e-commerce.”



“Personalization is expanding beyond just the historical use of manually creating a customer journey using customer attributes,” Ford said. “By incorporating activity data utilizing AI, businesses can curate the marketing message (content and products) on an individualized basis. This has the potential to naturally increase engagement and loyalty.”


Augmented Reality and Immersive Buying Experiences

“AR use has already significantly grown with furniture, eyewear and makeup companies, but may not be limited to those verticals,” Ford said. “With the ever-increasing e-commerce conversions year over year, other verticals may look to use this technology to assist with increasing purchase satisfaction and decreasing the rate of returned merchandise.” 

Data is stated to be the new oil, but unrefined data cannot really be utilized effectively.’’

What under-the-radar e-commerce trends are you watching?

Data Mining 

“Data is stated to be the new oil, but unrefined data cannot really be utilized effectively,” Ford said. “Companies have been collecting significant amounts of data on unknown visitors, subscribers and purchasers. Tying all the data back together in a strategic way and determining the next actionable steps still presents a challenge for many marketers.” 


One-to-One Predictive Marketing 

“Historically, subscribers have been aggregated within buckets that don’t capture their true individualized behaviors,” Ford said. “Personalized predictive marketing allows the message to get to users based on the individual’s experience and timing, avoiding bucketing them in large groups.” 



Adam Van Fossen, CMO of SevenFifty, told us how the e-commerce trends he’s watching for 2020 relate to the company’s position in the alcohol industry, including an increase in localized spending and a greater emphasis on data to track buying behavior. 


What are the top three e-commerce trends you're watching that are significantly impacting the industry? 

Localized E-commerce

“First, we are continuing to see the rise of localized e-commerce,” said Van Fossen. “Alcohol inventory, availability and regulations vary greatly region-to-region so it’s impossible to take a one-size-fits-all approach to online shopping. Alcohol delivery services like Drizly and Doordash are filling part of the on-demand void, but we are also seeing a rise in platforms that enable local shops to create their own white-label shopping experience directly tied to store-level inventory.” 



“Secondly, the adoption of direct-to-consumer: Forty-four states allow at least some interstate shipping of alcohol from wine, beer and spirits producers,” said Van Fossen. “People are seeking out small-batch, locally made brands so there’s a lot of untapped opportunities to engage local consumers online.” 

We are continuing to see the rise of localized e-commerce.” 

What under-the-radar e-commerce trends are you watching that the industry isn't talking about? 

E-commerce on a B2B Level

“Under-the-radar from a consumer perspective is the digital transformation that is happening at the wholesale level within the beverage alcohol industry,” Van Fossen said. “In the past, new product discovery has been a huge challenge for wholesale buyers. As a result, consumers pretty much saw the same products wherever they went. Now, retailers are engaging in e-commerce on a B2B level and have more visibility into what’s available and what they can purchase online.” 


How will these trends impact the way consumers buy things online in the future? 

Targeted Advertising 

“As it pertains to our business, the rise of e-commerce is just one facet of a digital revolution that we see impacting all parts of the alcohol supply chain,” said Van Fossen. “Brands will leverage market intelligence data and targeted advertising platforms like ours that tap into consumers and will trade online buying behavior. All of this means even more opportunities to add value to the supply chain that currently exists.”


Bread Finance
bread finance

Bread Finance’s content marketing manager Mark Kersteen has a broad perspective of the alternate-financing landscape. And he sees a decline in private-label credit cards and a rise in loyalty programs as major trends this year. Below, he told us why he thinks consumers are looking for a different way to pay. 


What are the top three e-commerce trends you're watching that are significantly impacting the industry?

An Improved Checkout Experience

“One-click checkout and more streamlined navigation are driving up customer expectations and will be a point of increasing competition for e-commerce companies,” said Kersteen.


Alternative Financing 

“Alternative financing will continue to attract debt-wary young consumers,” said Kersteen. “As they leave traditional institutions and payment solutions behind, new fintech players will find ways to tap into their desires and different buying behaviors.” 

“Credit cards are waning in popularity and a fragmented media landscape means that traditional advertising is losing its formerly ironclad hold over customers’ wallets,” Kersteen added. “Shoppers, especially the younger demographic who lived through the most recent financial crash, are wary of accruing more debt and are swayed by more flexible ways to pay for what they want and need. The customer experience is becoming a bigger part of the equation and payment options are evolving to become a bigger part of the buyers’ journey.”

The customer experience is becoming a bigger part of the equation.’’

More Loyalty Programs 

“Loyalty programs are growing,” Kersteen said. “Combining them with mobile payment solutions and wallets will only further embed them in the e-commerce experience.”

“Shoppers are consolidating their wallets and looking for other options instead of store credit cards, like app-based loyalty plans.”


What under-the-radar ecommerce trends are you watching that the industry isn't talking about?

“Pay What You Want” Options

“The real cutting edge of payments in the e-commerce space includes brands like Everlane, who offer more flexible and transparent pricing on select items” Kersteen said.


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