Ecommerce UK Online Retail Trends for 2019 / 2020

Reading Time: 9 mins

With Brexit looming, the outlook for brick and mortar retailers is uncertain, or even bleak. But ecommerce continues to grow in the UK, and this brings many new online retail trends in 2019 through to 2020.

So what trends can we expect from ecommerce retailers in 2019 and 2020 that continues to shape how we shop online?

Ecommerce Trends for UK Online Retailers to watch in 2019 & 2020

More is being spent online

Ecommerce sales are set to grow 10.9% in 2019 to hit £106.46 billion – which is 22.3% of total retail.

While many retailers are worrying about the prospect of Brexit and the UK’s status within Europe, it seems ecommerce retailers do not have too much to fear.

People will still be spending, and spending a lot online. You just need to make sure your brand stands out online, and that you invest in your marketing to ensure you stay ahead of competitors and grow your ecommerce business.

Voice search and virtual assistants

The Amazon Echo and Google Home device adoption has skyrocketed – which will impact SEO.

Not only that, but more people make use of voice search and voice assistants on their smartphones and other devices.

This means we will see a rise in voice commerce, which depends largely on how Siri and Google Assistant comply with commands which relate to products.

Voice searches are more like real-life conversions, so writing will need to change.

This could have a significant impact on your rankings. And these voice searches tend to zoom in on the number one link, rather than offering options. This means the number one spot is more valuable than ever before.

One big player in this is Argos launching a way to shop using the Google Assistant.

Visual-based shopping

Google now allows you to scan images and it will return results for products. It’s likely we will see more of this in the future.

Many ecommerce retailers themselves offer visual searches – such as ASOS.

Personalised shopping

We are seeing more products that can be personalised – whether that’s shoes, sunglasses, gifts or otherwise.

Notonthehighstreet are a famous example that basically made its name offering personalised gifts. There is nothing revolutionary about the products themselves – but the fact you could order these gifts with personalised aspects is a huge bonus for many consumers.

Thread is another popular fashion site that has experienced growth due to the fact it offers personalised recommendations, and offers suggestions on what you may like, based on what you are looking for or have previously liked on the site.

Shoppable social media posts

More ecommerce businesses now know that shoppers don’t want to leave social media to go to a site to purchase. There will be a significant drop off between this.

Native social selling is on the rise, and reduces the buyer’s journey from discovery of a product through to making the purchase.

This also means the business must be present on social media to answer any queries or offer information.

Social media platforms have attempted to integrate ecommerce directly. This includes Instagram’s “Shop Now” buttons, Facebook’s “Buy” buttons, and Twitter’s product pages.

The highly targeted paid advertising also ties into this – so through integrated ecommerce offerings and paid social ads, businesses can really make a difference to their bottom lines.

The less friction there is between finding a product on a social media platform and making a purchase, the more likely they are to convert.

Mobile ecommerce

In 2019, almost 56% of mcommerce comes via smartphones – but this is set to grow to over 71% by 2023.

Websites need to be faster, responsive and offer the best shopping experience possible.

While even a few years ago, many people would switch to a tablet, laptop or PC for shopping or research, nowadays phones are large and considered a main device.

This means that more people than ever are researching and making purchases directly from their phone – whether that is at work during lunch, at home on the sofa, in bed at night, or on the train when commuting. People are shopping whenever and wherever the mood strikes. Make sure your brand can be found, and make sure the shopping experience is not sub-par.

This is also prevalent outside of European and American markets. China, Africa and Asia have a rising adoption of smartphones, of which smartphones are largely the primary devices. This means in these countries, perhaps where internet connections are not as fast or developed, mobile shopping experiences are more important than even in Western countries.

Subscription services

Frequently used products and services means that subscriptions are a very convenient method of creating repeat purchases.

You’ll have seen this on Amazon – where you get a discount if you subscribe to a product on a monthly basis you receive a discount.

But also, ecommerce businesses have been built around things traditionally purchased individually. Whether that is razors, coffee beans, beer, or otherwise. If you offer a product that is consumed or needs to be replenished, think about how you could offer a subscription service. Would this appeal to your target market?

There’s a benefit to consumers as well as to your business – it makes re-ordering a simple task, and saves them time. However, you need to make the case as to why they should subscribe, whether that’s by saving money or by convenience. Direct debit is seen as a simple transaction, and the idea of a monthly “gift” is an exciting prospect.


Dropshipping has become big business, and is set to grow. This essentially involves your business being the middleman between supplier and customer. Your business never has the product, but takes the order and get it shipped.

Dropshipping is on the rise as entrepreneur-types make the most of social media and paid social advertising, by finding an audience for a specific type of product they have sourced from China or somewhere similar.

However, there is some negative online backlash from time to time regarding some dropship ecommerce stores, as product quality is often deemed poor and not up to the standard shown in ads or on the site. Of course, the dropshipper has never handled or even seen the product, so how would they know? And refunds aren’t exactly prevalent with dropshipping.

Conscious consumers

Eco-friendly alternatives have become very popular, and it’s likely this will impact ecommerce retailers.

Ethical products, whether that is shoes or plastic-based products, have become very popular. Amazon’s over-use of packaging materials has long been a talking point, as you will get a huge box that takes more room to transport for a tiny item.

Consumer values now influence what retailers offer, how they package them, and how they ship them.

If your packaging or products aren’t environmentally friendly or are otherwise unethical, then it might be worth rethinking how you can tackle the problem.

More brands are attempting to go green, and this is set to continue. Businesses will embrace being green, and then showcase this to the public.

Throughout 2019 and 2020, ecommerce will flourish and bring about a number of new trends that change how we shop online.

Which online retailers will keep up, and which will get left behind, is harder to predict. There are a number of businesses that have stagnated, and other surprise success stories. And with the uncertainty of Brexit and how it will impact not only purchasing habits, but how it impacts business and ecommerce itself, it’s going to be an interesting few years ahead.

But ecommerce retailers are safe within the UK itself – it will continue to thrive, if you can keep up with the competition, offer the best possible shopping experience, and ensure your brand gets found with a combination of effective, data-driven digital marketing campaigns. Are you prepared?