10 Top Digital Trends To Watch For 2020

As we jump into the 10 digital trends that surround the Local and Vertical movements, keep in mind the many other changes and innovations happening across the digital landscape over the next 5 to 10 years.

Just looking at one major shift in digital, China is poised to become the world’s largest e-commerce market by 2015 (source: BCG), we know there will be plenty of changes afoot in the next few years. Things like China’s business to consumer sales going from $49 billion in 2010 to $159 billion in 2015 as predicted by Forrester Research.

Note: This list is adapted from Sramana Mitra’s recent post of the top 10 vertical and local trends (see Sramana Mitra’s original post).

10 Top Digital Trends

1. Niche E-Commerce:

Just as brick-and-mortar commerce went from general merchandising to specialty retail, e-commerce is moving from mass to specialty. From Amazon or eBay style e-commerce to boutique experiences like Blue Nile (diamonds), Blinds.com (window blinds), and Jack Threads (young male lifestyle). This trend will continue, and it will spread globally.

2. Niche Content Apps:

While the content industry has imploded, high-quality, specialized, niche content continues to be attractive. Look at the Economist, the WSJ, and Zagat. But the nature of content is changing, and apps are being introduced to give content more leverage. OpenTable is a great example of a tremendously useful restaurant reservation system that is an amalgamation of niche content and an app. Expect to see more.

3. Niche Community:

Yelp is a great example. A restaurant review and rating community that leverages user generated content and offers a great experience. Same with TripAdvisor and VirtualTourist in the domain of travel. Flickr in photos. SeekingAlpha in stock analysis.

4. Vertical Search:

Kayak (travel), Trulia (real estate), Indeed (jobs), and many others are all going gangbusters. Niche e-commerce sites are often using vertical search effectively. Blinds.com is a good example.

5. Local Search and Services:

We’re often looking for things within 15 miles of our home. Stores, restaurants, hair salons, nail salons, dry cleaners, a Japanese grocery store, a Zumba or Yoga place. Service providers like Fresh Diet, which delivers home-cooked meals every day, are leveraging Google’s ability to hyper-target their offerings to consumers. Groupon has just introduced an entirely new paradigm for local service marketing using the social Web behavior pattern. All this makes it increasingly easy to take an industry that started life as local classifieds to a new level of precision and creativity.

6. Location-Based Services

Of course, local and location-based services are not the same. Often, we find ourselves in unknown cities or remote places without a clue as to where to eat or how to find a good dentist. With the penetration of GPS technology, as well as local online communities, for location-based services, it finally looks like their time has come.

7. Personalization:

We are still waiting for real personalization. Not only personalization via local or location-based, but by demographic, psychographic, taste, style, passions, and a lot of other methods that still seem like voodoo. But maybe this decade we will see some real strides. The technology we need for this trend to really take shape involves complex systems, but it will lead to some amazing opportunities.

8. Advertising and Transaction Business Models:

We have overemphasized advertising as the business model of the Web. While we will see other business models start to grow, advertising is here to stay with global e-commerce predicted to hit almost a trillion dollars by 2013 ($963 billion, source: JP Morgan). U.S. Internet advertising revenues hit $6.4 billion in the third quarter of 2010, representing the highest quarterly result ever for the industry and a 17% increase from Q3 2009. The industry is growing steadily and aggressively, with search advertising as its biggest beneficiary. According to S&P Equity Research, online ad revenue will increase by about 10% this year, pushing ad revenue to just over $28 billion in 2011. This trend will continue, as will the strong growth in transaction revenues, as fueled by online shoppers. A JP Morgan report forecasts that e-commerce revenue will grow to $680 billion worldwide in 2011 up 18.9% from 2010.

9. Subscription Business Models:

But as the Web gets more vertical and local, we will find consumers more willing to pay for clean, focused, well-curated, personalized user experiences in the form of subscription revenues. This trend may be just starting out but expect to see it blossom during this decade.

10. Contextual Web:

We will be inching closer to a contextual Web, an amalgamation of Content, Community, Commerce, Vertical Search, and Personalization in Context. In other words, Web 3.0.

As you continue to innovate, we hope you will keep these 10 trends in mind and don’t hesitate to give us a call if you need a partner to help prepare for and design the future.