2019 saw the retail sector continue to battle to keep ahead in an environment of rapid market, technological and consumer behaviour changes, coupled with disrupted spending habits, rising costs and increased international competition.

Although 2020 will bring a new set of macro-market challenges, retailers can ensure they maintain their competitive advantage by staying close to trends, pre-empting consumer preferences and implementing the right technologies to simplify the purchasing process and increase customer engagement, according to Andy Burton, CEO of digital commerce consultancy, Tryzens.

Tryzen’s team of digital commerce practitioners have outlined key trends that will impact e-commerce agendas in 2020:

Contextual commerce

Contextual commerce is the notion of retailers taking on the relevant concepts that enable consumers to purchase wherever, whenever and however they want. It essentially refers to commerce cues that appear seamlessly in everyday activities and places, whether that’s buying a product while walking by a store window or the second a friend shares it on a social channel.

This includes simplifying the way in which products are found, using the likes of voice and image search, natural language processing and social selling, as well as tools to ensure the right product has been found, such as improved content options, VR contextualisation and size/fit where appropriate.

Sustainable at the core

Nobody can avoid the sheer weight of pressure when it comes to driving a greener, sustainable footprint as an industry. Whether looking at the issue through the lens of the recyclability of packaging materials, shipping distances, sustainable materials in products, energy efficiency or operational ethics, the agenda has changed and digital commerce provides the means to effectively showcase and explain the mission and mandate for a greener world.

According to data from an upcoming Customer Insight Report from Tryzens, 84% of consumers expect brands they shop with to have sustainable practices and 83% expect sustainable packaging. However, it’s not enough just to talk the talk, consumers want sustained change for good.

Componentised commerce

Traditional e-commerce infrastructures are often built around an ‘enterprise software’ all-inclusive platform and, therefore, material change often requires retailers to deploy an entirely new application and /or IT capability which is resource hungry, lengthy and costly.

‘Headless commerce’, or, what we call, ‘API-enabled’ commerce places the focus on a technical architecture driving reusability of common capabilities, time to market benefits for changes, transactional scalability and efficient launch of new channels. This enables retailers to integrate a social, visual and in-store digital touchpoints from the customer-facing front-end to a back-end e-commerce platform, which can be efficiently updated and changed at any point.

Over time, this means that retailers can be much more agile to adapt to changing consumer trends and behaviours and can quickly implement contextual commerce add-ons. Whilst this approach has typically leant itself to large scale retailers to date, leading vendors are making strong in-roads to enable this next generation of capability for retailers of all sizes.

The advance of payment preference

Consumer loyalty is not just limited to retail brands, it is increasingly being seen in the changes in behaviour around payment methods. The shift from the large corporate high street banks and credit cards is seen most clearly in the younger generations today where alternative banking and financial services like Monzo, Klarna and Zip are building their own loyal following across a range of payment services.

To help maximise customer engagement and sales success, retailers need to align with more innovative payment methods that resonate with their customers to help streamline the purchase process, as pre-registration with a payment service simplifies the data capture and authorisation process, reducing time and increasing convenience.

The ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ (BNPL) payment options offered by firms like Klarna and Laybuy increase consumer choice, within the realm of responsible lending. Tryzens Customer Insight Report found BNPL to already be the fourth most preferred payment method, after PayPal, then credit card and debit card.