The plans we all had for the start of the new decade, and the circumstances that have arisen as we try and put them into action, still feel surreal even today. Nonetheless, being in eCommerce gives you a fantastic way of embracing the growth of the online shopping industry overall. It’s an industry that has ascended in relevance even faster this year, while also reflecting the consumer uncertainty that has bubbled up since the challenges of our times first began.

5 ways to survive and thrive in eCommerce in the 2020s

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That said, recapping some strategies to win at eCommerce – not to mention getting a few more of the best eCommerce strategies under your belt – will definitely hold you in good stead. As we step into a new decade in which it’s now safe to say almost anything could happen, these tactics just might make the difference between soaring sales and customer loyalty, or mediocre muddling through in a sea of copycat competitors.

Appeal to the eye

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1. Appeal to the eye

People are hugely visual – there’s a reason brick and mortar stores line up their shelves the way they do, accentuating the things they want customers to buy the most. In eCommerce, consumers today want to feel confident in their purchase now more than ever, and demand high-resolution photographs of your goods against neutral white backdrops to let the product do all the talking.

Strategies compiled in an August 2020 report from Forbes detail how your buyers want to see even your most basic of products from a full 360-degree angle, especially on eCommerce platforms where virtually viewing a rotating model of the product isn’t feasible.


Unsplash / Norbert Levajsics

This interactive visual approach does more for customer confidence – and therefore their confidence in adding an item to their basket – than lifestyle shots or fuzzy images weighed down with obstructive text. Let the product copy do the elaboration – for a product image itself, keep it simple, clean and Google Shopping friendly.

A little legwork in effective images before the purchase can avoid plenty of after-sale issues later on, which often arise because customers feel what they received wasn’t what they saw online. This strategy benefits everyone involved.

Maximise your marketing - and your marketplaces

2. Maximise your marketing - and your marketplaces

Online shopping takes away the rapport that talented retail staff can build with customers while selling them a product. In short, the task falls to you to provide that gift of the gab – be that in product copy, an effective email newsletter campaign, or in using data to tailor what you offer to your customers to their personal tastes.

It’s perfectly understandable that this can prove daunting – but it’s all about understanding the message your brand conveys. Even if you exclusively sell products by a recognisable brand, or via an online marketplace, your online store name itself is a brand to which you need to pay attention.

Keyword-stuffed product titles, boasting about having UK stock and promising fast dispatch times are all things left over from early-2000s eBay – and frankly, nowadays customers simply expect fast dispatch and stock held in the same country as them when making a purchase, more often than not.


Unsplash / Claudio Schwarz

Instead, look to email campaigns, marketing support, or even guest blogging to reach out to customers old and new. Don’t think you’re alone in this journey either – OnBuy, the world's fastest-growing marketplace, has marketing features built into its sellers’ package, with a tailored Boost structure that lets merchants increase listings’ visibility and marketing on a sliding scale of investment.

That’s a good example of automating much of the work, or entrusting it to a reliable marketplace itself – and with OnBuy’s Boost strategy, if your products don’t sell, you don’t pay the marketing investment, making it fantastically low-risk.

In fact, take the 2020s as your opportunity to diversify which marketplaces you entrust your products to altogether, reducing the potential points of failure in your business model. With distrust in the larger behemoths rising, to say nothing of the fact that some such marketplaces will eventually become a competitor by selling their own inventory at prices that undercut yours, eCommerce entrepreneurs’ appetite for marketplaces that do things fair and square is practically ravenous today.


Pexels / Bongkarn Thanyakij

OnBuy’s success during the year 2020 thus far, with 600% growth for the second consecutive year and plans to expand into 140 countries and counting, is as illustrative of that seller appetite as they come.

Recognised by many as a unique opportunity among online marketplaces today, OnBuy’s seller community has blossomed despite an uncertain economic climate – not least thanks to key integration partnerships that have let eCommerce traders segue onto the marketplace in a streamlined way to enjoy lower commissions and a whole new customer base.

Make mobile eCommerce your new norm

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3. Make mobile eCommerce your new norm

This is no longer the world of customers poring over a computer monitor and wheeling at their mouse to scroll down to the best deals. While it’s always going to have a place in eCommerce, the PC and Mac have been teetering on the edge of being supplanted by mobile devices for years now, and the 2020s could well be the decade that happens.

Smartphone and tablet commercials that once used their “our device replaces your PC” message as a boast are increasingly able to back up that claim with performance that consumers can’t get enough of. Yet in its comprehensive Future of eCommerce report, Shopify noted how poor optimisation for mobile devices in eCommerce is a hanger-on today that’s simply suffocating your potential.

While almost 54% of all eCommerce sales in the United States alone are projected to take place via mobile in the year 2021, bounce rates on mobile remain astonishingly high. In fact, websites that take longer than an average of three seconds to load simply lose consumer interest, with approximately 53% of people giving up.


Pexels / Emirkhan Bal

While it sounds like a problem that cannot be overcome, and you might feel tempted to simply carry on with business as usual, you may be missing out if you sidestep this challenge. For one thing, technology is continuing to advance, meaning mobile’s current stumbles will be stamped out as the decade unfolds.

For another thing, you can get ahead of the curve now, rather than wait for technology to catch up to consumers’ demands. Using AMP to make pages lightning fast is a fantastic first step, and can help your Google search engine rankings accordingly – the search engine knows what device is being used to access search results and which of those pages load the fastest, and will promote a fast-loading mobile page to your customers accordingly.

Complement eCommerce with vCommerce

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4. Complement eCommerce with vCommerce

Asking an all-seeing computer for the time, for advice or for something to eat or drink is no longer the sole domain of the Starship Enterprise. Voice-activated smart assistants have become ubiquitous in just a few short years – enough so that they’re not only in your customers’ homes in the guise of smart speakers, but in every pocket in the world, thanks to smartphones.

This year and going forward, it’s anticipated that 50% of all searches are going to be made vocally, rather than typed into a search bar – and that’s something for which eCommerce entrepreneurs need to be ready now, if they aren’t making those inroads already.

SEO chart

Unsplash / Stephen Phillips

That means keywords will take on a new form as this decade matures, with far more in the way of long-form keywords and natural phrases that your copy needs to be prepared for. In (quite literally) other words, that means preparing copy that answers the question “Where to find a cheap Nintendo Switch”, spoken aloud by a customer, instead of copy that only relies on them firing off “cheap Nintendo Switch” into a search bar.

You can imagine how competitive the latter option might be – but think how well you could stand apart if you nail that voice search answer instead and steer a growing number of users to your platform before anyone else!

Make trust your customers’ prized possession

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5. Make trust your customers’ prized possession

In the last two or three years especially, spurred by the speed and ubiquity of information available online, customers have demonstrated a growing distrust of brands in general. Naturally, this can make a massive uphill climb for eCommerce entrepreneurs, both new and experienced – even if you’re taking the rest of the advice listed here.

Trust is the golden ticket to long-standing eCommerce success, and we allude to it as such here because it can feel just as rare and difficult to find if you’re not actively cultivating it in the right places.

Strategies and analysis surrounding this conversation have been circulating for years, as has the advice that understanding the ways in which your customers socialise is a crucial part of how they see your products – and whether they want to buy them.


Pexels / Plann

Yet despite how many of the best practices in creating trust have been discussed and exemplified, many eCommerce competitors of yours simply haven’t put ideas like user generated content, compelling social media conversations or good old-fashioned reviews into action.

That rising and influential challenger marketplace OnBuy is able to present its ethos of transparency, accountability and fair play as a comparatively unique alternative to business as usual is a strong example of how much reassurance both customers and online merchants require in today’s climate.

Yet OnBuy too has seen the benefits, as have its sellers, of promoting user generated content as part of its ongoing investment strategy. Put plainly, OnBuy began redesigning its product pages, all of which are contributed by eCommerce sellers, to feature reviews from customers.


Pexels / Andrea Piacquadio

As strategies go, it’s an oldie but a goodie, with customers feeling far more confident in buying from sellers on the platform thanks to highly visible positive affirmation from fellow buyers – the strategy summoned positive net results for the business and its seller community almost the instant it went live.

Naturally, there are plenty more ways of fostering customer trust, yet the key takeaway is that, while you can shout about your virtues until the sun goes down, it’s the voices of fellow consumers that your customers are likely to listen to most. Make that work in your favour, and the hard work is largely done for you.

The tenacious twenties

Pexels / Christina Morillo

The tenacious twenties

The new decade has ushered in an age of almost unprecedented uncertainty, yet eCommerce seems to be one of the few industries left unaffected, if not flourishing, in the aftermath.

As you prepare your business for what lies ahead, keep in mind the twin pillars of customer trust and advancing technology – these are the key components that will help you stand apart in an increasingly crowded space. Hopefully, with these tips taken in, you can plan ahead with confidence, whatever tomorrow brings.

Our last and most lucrative tip yet is to start selling with OnBuy. With 600% year-on-year growth (for the second year in a row) and plans to launch into over 140 countries by 2023, starting with 40 sites in 2020, sign up today and start benefiting from incremental revenue gains!