High-Lights: Our Tech PR POV

Highwire’s Commerce Trends and Predictions

Image: Blake Wisz

At Highwire, we work with pioneering companies driving all sectors of commerce — fintech, retail, martech and adtech — which gives us a unique perspective into the industry. However, no one could have predicted 2020’s twists and turns. As the new normal becomes more clear, we’ve compiled our predictions for the industry based on research and the commerce trends we see. What does the rest of 2020 hold?

The rise in virtual tellers

Due to shelter in place orders, consumers have had to rethink even the most basic aspects of their lives, like how they get their groceries, see the doctor or talk to friends and family. Similarly, consumers will now rethink how they handle money. According to J.D. Power, consumer trends are already shifting to digital-first with 20% of consumers increasing in the use of mobile banking and a 17% increase in online banking. We can expect to see traditional financial institutions and fintech companies alike introducing new tools that allow greater access to digital banking.

Contactless reigns at the top

Unlike other nations, the US has remained behind in adopting technology that enables contactless payments. For example, 90% of face-to-face transactions with Visa-branded credit cards in Australia are contactless while a recent Mastercard survey found just 51% of Americans have turned to contactless amidst the spread of coronavirus. This is likely due to contactless being safer than cash or handing cards to cashiers. While contactless cards and mobile wallets will seemingly grow in popularity, we can expect a new crop of innovation from fintech to further provide new ways to make payments for risk-averse customers to handle future payments.

Luxury experiences go mainstream

High-end retail brands are known for their appointment systems and concierge-style customer service. In a world where socially-distanced shopping is the new normal, will non-luxury brands use this as an opportunity to elevate their in-store customer experience? The combination of limited traffic flow and new technology-enabled perks like virtual try-on will enable service representatives to interact with customers in a new way. While we still stand with our initial 2020 commerce trends that predicted mobile-only pickup stores will be a haven for the brand loyalist, this new in-store model could be a welcome change for those tired of the chaotic experience often experienced at large, fast-fashion stores. 

Activism aimed at advertising 

The Black Lives Matter movement raised a groundswell of activism that paralleled the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s, and a new target of the 2020 activism was advertising. While some brands faced backlash for their content and ad practices, Facebook took center stage as the focus of the #StopHateForProfit advertising boycott campaign. Over 1,000 companies including The North Face, Verizon, Starbucks and Microsoft boycotted the platform through the month of July resulting in an estimated $200 million in lost revenue for the company. The formal boycott has since ended, but many consumers remain sensitive to how the brand advertisers they support align business practices with their values and beliefs. With the presidential election fast approaching in November, these concerns about advertisers’ activities and messages are not likely to fade away anytime soon.