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2019 in Review: eCommerce Trends in America

December 30, 2019 4 min read
One of the big trend-setters for fashion, entertainment and even sales behaviour. The United States is a rapidly changing place when it comes to eCommerce.
Unlimint Experts
Your payment experts
Unlimint Experts
Your payment experts

For a long time, the United States has been a trend-setter in more ways than one. In the world of retail, some of our biggest sales holidays have come from the US such as Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

But as we enter 2019, we’re seeing much more competition on the battleground of trends, and even more evolution when it comes to the world of eCommerce. As retailers and consumers alike enter 2020, it’s worth taking a look back at some of the trends that merit some deep consideration.

Top eCommerce Platforms in the USA

Walmart – 321 million MAUs

eBay – 1.1 billion MAUs

Amazon – 2.4 billion MAUs

Digital and Mobile Payments

While holiday sales like Thanksgiving and Black Friday have been dominated by physical payment methods like cash, credit and debit cards, this year saw an uptick in people getting online.

For Black Friday, both online and in-store payments are mostly settled with cash or card. However, where it gets to be interesting is looking at the wide array of digital payments and how popular they are.

More than 70% of payments online were made up of a range of digital payment systems including Klarna, Paypal, Apple and Google Pay. First of all, this shows that there’s a real diversity of alternative payment methods that consumers have grown accustomed to. The other is the flexibility that they offer, which we’ll delve into shortly.

Google and Apple Pay bring up an interesting point too – the rise of mobile payments. Over the course of Thanksgiving, the day’s sales reached $4.2 billion, 45% of all sales coming from mobile users. While Black Friday retail broke records from 2018 thanks to more than 30% of sales happening on mobile.

Going into 2020, digital payments are going to be a growing force to not only be reckoned with but embraced by businesses looking to the future.

Intuitiveness, convenience, comfort and more are nudging buyers online, and it’s the companies that get set up with an easily navigable digital/mobile stores that will be able to really benefit.

Instalment and Recurring Payment services

While some of the more popular payment methods out there are still Cash and Card, there’s a greater pull towards payment flexibility. This isn’t just in the kind of payment methods people use, but also in how they pay.

Consumers are always on the look-out for more convenience, and paying via instalments is just one of the breakout ways to do it, with six out of ten consumers being highly positive about its use. A further four out of ten would seriously consider using it for everyday items like groceries.

The big drawback is a lack of access to this at the moment. But for Debit cardholders and those reliably making payments online or via mobile, payment through instalments is a system that retailers should consider in 2020.

Along with instalment plans, the subscription economy has gone from strength to staggering strength over 2018/19. Companies like HelloFresh, Netflix and Dollar Shave Club have exploded onto the market with their subscription models.

According to a McKinsey report over this year, more than 46% of people surveyed are already signed up to one or more subscription-based services. The convenience of services like these makes them an easy sell for customers that want one less thing to worry about.

Ethical Buying

With the most active generation online being millennials by a large margin, they’re far more attentive to businesses that offer more ethical products and solutions, and that’s something to keep in mind.

88% of consumers want businesses to be as socially, environmentally and ethically conscious as they are, according to a report by Futerra from 2018.

But does this ethical consumerism translate to success for businesses that keep it in mind? If the UK market is anything to go by, it absolutely does. From a market which carried a total value of only £11.2bn in 1999, Ethical Consumerism has since increased to £41bn in 2019.

US consumers will actively switch over and pay more for ethical products, with three-quarters of millennials placing it at the forefront of their buying habits. Businesses that are able to make better choices and act on them will be sending out a big message to a very active audience.

Not only do millennials make for a very powerful audience, but they’re also a highly talkative one. Seven out of ten being on social media means that any business that’s: online, active on social channels AND environmentally and ethically conscious is going to make millions of new supporters and consumers.


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