Sometimes products become popular out of nowhere, and then they fade out of popularity just as quickly. Remember slap bracelets? At this point, they might as well have never existed. More recently, the fidget spinner enjoyed explosive popularity in 2017, and just a few years later it’s been all but forgotten.
And then there are products that are simply made obsolete by advances in technology. For example, cassette tapes were replaced by CDs, and now most music sales are digital.
Every once in a while, you should stop and take stock of what’s popular at that exact moment. Even if it’s too late to jump on a trend now, evaluating what’s changing and what has stayed the same will help you predict where the industry is going in the future.
When measured by the percentage of Amazon shoppers who purchased at least one product in a given category, the following categories were the most popular of 2019:
While big-ticket items such as televisions, laptops and smartphones are often purchased online, it’s the less expensive accessories that make the electronics category so popular. Consumers sometimes prefer to comparison shop in-store before committing to a large purchase, but they won’t think twice about ordering smaller items such as phone cases, screen protectors, portable chargers and headphones.
Online shopping in general provides customers with more options than whatever’s available in any brick-and-mortar store, and this is particularly pronounced in the fashion industry. That helps explain why the clothing, shoes and jewelry categories are so popular. Shoppers often have a specific look they’re going for with their clothing purchases, and they’re more likely to find it online than in-store.
While brand recognition and marketing always play a large role in sales, sometimes the sheer innovative usefulness of a new product is enough to grab people’s attention.
In 2019, the following new products stood out as the most impressive:
Electronics is the most popular category on Amazon, and virtual reality (VR) is the hottest trend within this category.
Fictional depictions of VR go back almost 100 years, from the 1933 short story series “The Man Who Awoke” to popular films such as “The Matrix” and “Ready Player One.” Now, the fantasy has finally become a reality.
The Oculus Quest is the most advanced VR gaming device yet. Unlike previous VR models, it’s a wireless, standalone system that doesn’t need to be connected to a computer. This product is so remarkable that it earned an Editor’s Choice designation and an Innovation Award from CNET.
As the technology advances, computers take up less and less space. The first computers were as big as an entire room, and now they can fit in your pocket. The displays have shrunk as well, from the bulky CRT monitors of the 1990s to the LCD flatscreens of today.
The Samsung Space Monitor, another new addition to the electronics category, represents the next step in space-saving computer tech. It has an adjustable stand that can be raised up so the monitor is flat against the wall, providing users with 40% more space on a standard-sized desk.
Many exercise enthusiasts like to make their own protein shakes. But, the dirty dishes that result from these shakes can be difficult to clean, as protein powder tends to get stuck in corners. Many protein shake products also rely on a mixing ball or mesh grid to thoroughly blend ingredients, and these must be cleaned separately.
With its capsule design, the ShakeSphere is able to mix ingredients without any separate ball or grid, and there are no annoying corners to clean. This innovation earned ShakeSphere a place in the Men’s Health Fitness Awards 2019.
A recent Glocalities survey found that the percentage of people concerned about the damage humans do to the environment rose from 71% in 2014 to 77% in 2019. This presents an opportunity for companies to attract eco-conscious customers by going green and developing sustainable products.
Styrofoam is an affordable, lightweight insulator, which has made it a popular material for coolers. But manufacturing styrofoam causes air pollution, and the finished product is non-degradable.
So this year, Igloo released the world’s first biodegradable cooler, the RECOOL. It’s made from recycled tree pulp, and with its low price point customers don’t even need to pay up to feel good about what they’re buying.
As noted above, the popularity of the electronics category is due in large part to accessory sales. For example, the release of the Apple Watch in 2015 generated a thriving market of smartwatch accessories.
The INTENY Sport Band was a particularly notable smartwatch accessory released in 2019. Listed as one of the “Best Cheap Apple Watch Bands” by Macworld, the INTENY Sport Band is durable, comes with dozens of color options and is a fraction of the cost of the official Apple Sport Loop.
This is an excellent example of how you don’t need to necessarily invent something new to offer something new to customers. It’s OK for your product to be similar to other products — if you can make it more affordable without sacrificing quality, that’s just as good as being unique.
The mattress company Casper found a clever way to diversify its inventory with the Casper Glow Light. This is one of the many “smart” devices that have been released in the past few years, which means it can communicate with other devices.
The Casper Glow Light has an appropriately sleek design for 2019. Not only is it wireless, it doesn’t even have any buttons. You turn it on by flipping it over, and you adjust the brightness by rotating it.
From your phone, you can set a time for the Casper Glow Light to wake you up with a flood of warm light. This is certainly a better way to start your day than being jolted awake by a blaring alarm!
The Wyze Bulb is another notable smart device released in 2019. Named a CNET Editor’s Choice, you can adjust the brightness and temperature of this bulb with your smartphone or with your voice, and it’s more affordable than similar products. In addition to adjusting the settings manually, you can also set it to turn on and off on a schedule.
Here’s one more smart device for your consideration: the Ikea FYRTUR Blackout roller blind, which can do much more than go up or down on command. You can set them to open and close on a schedule, and with their advanced sensors, they can even automatically adjust to the level of outdoor light or amount of activity taking place in a room.
In addition to smart devices, another prominent trend is personalization. For example, Care/of (founded in 2016) is a popular subscription service that delivers vitamins and supplements tailored to each member’s health and diet goals.
Sunday is doing for lawn care what Care/of did for vitamins. By taking soil, climate and satellite data into account, Sunday is able to optimize the mix of non-toxic fertilizers sent to each of its members.
Cannabinoid products have popped up in every industry from food to beauty to pet supplies. There’s a good reason why these products have become so popular: CBD has been shown to effectively provide relief for conditions such as sleep disorders, anxiety and chronic pain.
Inevitably, CBD made its way into the ecommerce industry. BigCommerce launched a service specifically for CBD sales in August 2019.
The Dosist Dose Dial is an especially attractive CBD product. This dispenser is as sleek as an Apple device, and there’s some personalization with the CBD lozenge tablets being available in six different varieties (Sleep, Calm, Relief, etc.).
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is held at the start of each year at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This event is attended by hundreds of thousands of people annually, and it’s where many companies show off their latest and most exciting products.
If a product generates a lot of buzz at CES, that’s a good sign it will be popular once it’s released. Therefore, you can expect the following CES 2020 standouts to quickly reach high sales figures after they’ve been made available to the public:
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold is the world’s first laptop with a folding OLED display.
One of the most significant trends in ecommerce is the mobile revolution. Since 2015, mobile devices have been a more popular way for people to browse the internet than desktops.
But there are some drawbacks to using a smartphone or tablet instead of a bulkier laptop. A full-size keyboard makes it much easier to type, and laptops have a larger storage capacity as well.
The X1 Fold combines a convenient, lightweight mobile-like experience with the size and power of a laptop. This innovation led to The Verge naming the X1 Fold “Best in Show” at CES 2020.
The eye-catching modular design of the Insta360 ONE R is as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing.
This camera allows you to switch between three types of lens: the 4K Wide Angle Mod that can be used as a GoPro-like action camera, a Dual Lens 360 Mod for 360-degree 5.7K footage and a 1-inch wide lens that’s capable of taking 19-megapixel stills. With this versatility, users will have a high degree of freedom when deciding how they want to capture images and video.
Like the Igloo RECOOL, the Hydraloop is a product designed for eco-conscious consumers. Of course, with a price tag of $4,000, it’s a much bigger commitment than a $10 cooler.
Named the “Best of the Best” among the products featured at CES 2020 by Engadget, the Hydraloop is a household water recycler that is able to reduce household water consumption by up to 45%.
And while it is a considerable expense, the Hydraloop does allow users to save a lot of money through lower water and energy bills.
While the Hydraloop was named “Best of the Best” by Engadget at CES 2020, the Razer Kishi won the award for “People’s Choice.” More than 20,000 people voted in Engadget’s poll, and 21% selected the Kishi as their favorite product. This device plugs into your iPhone or Android smartphone and allows you to use console controls for your favorite mobile games.
Some of the hottest products of 2019 were smart devices, and you can expect the same to be true for 2020.
The Colgate Plaqless Pro Toothbrush was one of the most impressive smart devices featured at CES 2020. This brush has advanced sensors that help the user locate and eliminate plaque buildup. It also works with the Colgate Connect App to analyze the effectiveness of the user’s brushing sessions and provide tips for improving their technique.
The NURVV Smart Insoles do for running what the Colgate Plaqless Pro Toothbrush does for brushing your teeth.
With 32 high-precision sensors that are able to capture data from the user’s feet at a rate of 1,000 times per second, the NURVV Smart Insoles provide you with valuable feedback on your balance, cadence and other aspects of your running technique. With this information, runners can train more effectively while avoiding injury.
Instead of locking and unlocking the door to your house with a key, what if you could use an app?
The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is another noteworthy smart device. It’s similar to August’s previous model, the Smart Lock Pro, except for two significant improvements: the Wi-Fi Smart Lock is 45% smaller, and it doesn’t require a separate bridge device — the wi-fi is built into the lock itself. This addresses the two biggest complaints about the Smart Lock Pro, which were that it was too large and the required bridge device was inconvenient.
This lock only takes about 10 minutes to install, and then you can use it to secure, monitor and manage access to your home from anywhere in the world.
Grilling is often more frustrating than fun. It’s not like an oven where you can just turn the dial to the right temperature, so it’s sometimes difficult to get the results you want.
The Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub gives you more control over the grilling experience. This device uses probes to monitor temperature, and it works with the Weber Connect app to guide you through the cooking process. With this device, you’ll be the hero of the cookout.
The latest version of the Pockettalk translator represents a significant improvement over the previous model. Now, the Pocketalk is a smaller device with a larger screen. And most notably, the new version can translate written text in addition to speech.
Like the most successful products, the Juno Chiller provides a new, uniquely effective solution to a common problem.
Let’s say you have some company over, and you want to open up a bottle of wine. But then you realize that you forgot to chill the wine, so you need to stick it in the freezer, where it would take an hour to reach the ideal temperature.
That’s where the Juno Chiller comes in. This device is capable of completely cooling down a bottle of wine in just five minutes (and it can cool down a can of beer in under a minute). Basically, it’s like a microwave that makes things cold instead of warm. It’s a game-changer.
No matter what it is that you sell, the ecommerce technology that’s now available has made it easier than ever to maintain your online storefront, manage shipments and keep your customers happy.
Order fulfillment services eliminate the need for you to maintain your own warehouses. Automated chatbots give you the ability to provide 24/7 live support without the expense of full-time customer service staff. And drag-and-drop page builders allow you to create your own custom landing pages, product pages and blog posts without hiring a web designer.
In 2020, you won’t need to invest a fortune in building out your own capabilities in order to run a successful ecommerce store. With the quality and quantity of third-party services and online tools that are out there, everything you need is at your fingertips.
Adam Ritchie is a writer based in Silver Spring, Maryland. He writes about ecommerce trends and best practices for Shogun. His previous clients include Groupon, Clutch and New Theory.