The new decade is about to start and will bring with it numerous digital innovations and fresh e-commerce trends. In particular, online traders and marketers should not oversleep, but should have them on screen in good time - in two senses of the word. While older studies already show the trends in retail 2025, we take it a little slower and present you the most relevant trends in e-business for the coming year. Let's get started!
1. Do it like Sephora! - AR & VR for product presentation
At the top of the trend list is an imminent paradigm shift towards augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) supported purchasing processes. According to a current Gartner study, 100 million shoppers will order and buy their products digitally and analogously using AR by the beginning of the year. The exciting thing about this is that AR technology not only enables interactive product presentation, but also allows goods to be integrated directly into their future environment at will.
In addition to IKEA with its IKEA Place app, the French cosmetics chain Sephora is also a clear pioneer in AR commerce. The beautycompany already offers potential buyers the opportunity to virtually test various realistic make-up products on their own faces. Whether it's lipstick, eye shadow or foundation, the Sephora Virtual Artist app allows customers to try different looks and make-up trends in 3D without having to leave their bedroom or invest a lot of money in finding the right product. Make-up fans who enjoy experimenting can benefit from exact ideas of the goods and retailers from faster purchasing decisions and decreasing returns. In addition, this realistic presentation and almost haptic application of the products triggers a true shopping experience, especially for customers.
In addition to detailed product images with zoom function and 3D views in online shops, VR and AR solutions will also be used in the future to visually convince consumers of the quality of the product.
In line with this, PWC study results show that the German virtual reality market has long since outgrown its niche and that the turnover generated there is growing rapidly: Thanks to market growth of 38%, VR products in Germany already generated 116 million euros last year. Furthermore, according to a study by Next Media Hamburg 2018, every third German was already in possession of virtual reality glasses once.
Conclusion: An investment in VR- and AR-supported marketing will certainly pay off.
2. With 5G to the Internet of Things (IoT)
According to the World Economic Forum, we are already on the verge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will be accompanied by significant developments in Internet and mobile technology. The introduction of 5G technology plays a key role in this and will transform e-commerce as we know it. 5G is the fifth generation of the mobile communications standard, which is based on the existing "Long Term Evolution" standard and is intended to become the fastest network in the world in the future. Currently, many mobile operators are planning to invest in the upcoming standard and are already preparing the transition to 5G technology. The largest smartphone manufacturers have already introduced new models that are compatible with the fast mobile Internet. In contrast to Japan or the USA, however, Germany's infrastructure is still deep in the test phase of the 5G construction.
This future trend is particularly decisive for e-commerce operators, as the number of mobile users who shop online continues to rise. The growth of mobile commerce in Germany can be illustrated by the fact that 38% of all online purchases were made from mobile devices as early as 2018. With the development of 5G, consumers' favorite shopping experience will increasingly shift to their smart devices. Underestimating this trend can have fatal consequences for online business.
In addition, the new mobile Internet standard is regarded as a basic prerequisite for widespread implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT). The latter comprises collaborative information and communication technologies that connect and communicate physical and virtual objects within the framework of a global infrastructure. This is to be made possible in the long term by 5G, as large amounts of data can also be transmitted directly and without delay on the road. For e-commerce operators, complex visualizations, interactive AR/VR tools and HD videos will also pay off for mobile marketing in the future.
Conclusion: Although the commercial launch is already scheduled for this year, online retailers in Germany still have some time to prepare for the nationwide installation of ultra-fast mobile communications. In the coming years, thousands of base stations will first have to be set up by the network operators. By adapting now to the mobile Internet of the future, retailers will gain a clear advantage on both the German and international markets.
3. More than Alexa and Siri - Voice Commerce revolutionizes online commerce
Voice-controlled assistants such as Amazon Echo (Alexa), Google Assistant or Apple's Siri have been involved in discussions about data protection and privacy for several years. On the other hand, the impact of Smart Speakers and Co. on e-commerce is rarely discussed. Voice Commerce or vCommerce is the integration of voice search and voice-controlled everyday helpers into targeted product searches and online shopping.
A recent Microsoft study shows that the acceptance of voice-activated shopping continues to grow and that 34.9 percent of respondents have already placed at least one order using voice assistants, which they would rate as positive. In addition, as many as 52 percent of participants use voice commands in everyday life to control a smart speaker. A ComsCore study goes even further, stating that by 2020 every second search will be a language search.
It is also interesting to look at the average situations in which voice commands are used: As expected, the living room and the office are located here. Surprisingly, however, the cinema, the fitness studio and public toilets are also common places of use.
For consumers, voice search is particularly attractive because it provides a result that is individually tailored to their needs in a short time and requires less effort in researching or viewing search lists.
Conclusion: vCommerce is already in the fast lane of e-business: giants like Lieferando and Amazon are actively relying on the power of language assistants and are thus drawing many of their colleagues under their spell. This means that an increasing number of users can be expected in the future, as well as continuous optimization of the language assistants. The coming year, for example, will offer online merchants who have not yet integrated voice search a good opportunity to expand their shops with smart voice searches.
4. Social shopping as the future of e-commerce
A large part of the everyday life of Generation Z takes place on social networks: Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube write the largest active user numbers in 2019 and accompany up to 73% of Germans like a smartphone in their pocket. While orders and payments via social media platforms in Germany are increasingly being met with scepticism for security reasons, they have long since become a matter of course in China, for example. Social shopping, or social commerce, is a special form of e-commerce that is based on active participation and personal relationships between users.
In addition to the usual suspects mentioned above, Pinterest, Snapchat and Mydealz are prominent examples of social commerce portals that pursue very different sales strategies. For example, Pinterest benefits from its visual search, while Snapchat uses a combination of augmented reality and shopping with its "Shoppable AR" function. The most important keyword here is the direct and convenient shopping experience. The displayed product proposals are to remain a subordinate part of the mostly image-based entertainment on social networks and thus encourage spontaneous and direct purchases in one's own interest. The focus here is on customer participation in design, sales or marketing through authentic user-generated content. This means, for example, that other consumers evaluate or recommend purchased products and share their experiences.
The occupational image of the influencer has developed within the framework of the social shopping paradigm especially for the growing generation. Thanks to its reach and strong presence on social networks, the influencer can market selected products influentially and interactively. This e-commerce trend includes not only the shift from the classic online shop to purchases via social media channels and influencer marketing, but also functions such as the Shop Now button. With this, users can purchase products displayed in line with the fast-moving news feed with just one click. Customer benefit, customer experience and the convenience of a frictionless and fully integrated payment option play a particularly important role here.
Conclusion: Customers for such next-level social shopping are not only to be found in China, but also the younger generation Z is already looking for social media platforms with integrated shopping and payment options. Social commerce and its opportunities will continue to grow as globalization progresses. This makes it all the more exciting how this future trend will change digital buying behaviour. For the marketing and sales of the future, social platforms offer promising and innovative opportunities to optimize one's own e-commerce presence.
5. The Ultimate All-in-One Shipping Logistics
Another move towards the future that companies should jump on before it's too late: the revolution in shipping and transport management. There are numerous challenges and increasing customer demands which make it considerably more difficult for e-commerce operators to find logistics that are perceived as efficient. Amazon is also setting the bar very high in this respect and, with "Prime now" for example, offers a possible fast delivery from local dealers within just one hour of receiving an order. In the long term, the Group wants to assume the position of a predictive retailer and thus use generated user profiles to determine in detail with which products, at what time and at what interval customers want to place their orders again.
In addition to classic just-in-time delivery, there is also just-in-sequence dispatch, which is intended to make the stressful logistics of everyday life easier for the customer. In the future, online merchants will be faced with a growing dematerialisation and automation of delivery logistics, as conventional parcel services will no longer be able to cope with the increasing volume of parcels. However, traditional shipping options are still popular with German customers and still count: The faster and more comfortable, the better.
In the logistics sector, there must therefore be a clear rethink in order to continue to guarantee customer satisfaction and thus also sales strength. For example, the digital provider Sendcloud, which has developed an all-in-one shippingsoftware for online shops, is making a start. This makes it possible for retailers to comprehensively automate the shipping process with just a few clicks. The creators of the tool themselves even advertise with an integration time of less than two minutes. With Sendcloud it is possible to control all logistics steps after connecting your own online shop. These range from importing orders, label printing and e-mail marketing to automatic shipment tracking and the organisation of returns.
Conclusion: As an e-commerce operator, it makes more than sense to optimize your supply chain and shipping logistics with an intuitive dashboard or all-in-one shipping tool in order to adapt to upcoming market developments. Alternative shipping options as well as packaging technologies will experience an additional high in the coming year - subscription services, scannable packaging or drone suppliers are just a few examples.
One thing should have become clear: Digitization and upcoming e-commerce trends will shape the near future of online shopping and retailing. In the USA, Scan & Go technologies already make it possible to conveniently stock up in grocery stores and pay automatically when leaving the store. What further innovative shopping experiences and technologies the future holds for us will remain exciting to follow in the coming year.