Key Ecommerce Trends for 2021

Posted in Resources 5 minute read

With the general population staying home for most of 2020, it’s fair to say that ecommerce businesses that capitalised on the opportunity had a profitable year. In fact, retail ecommerce sales completely surpassed expectations to grow by 27.6% – despite initial assessments forecasting just a 16.5% growth.

Despite higher digital adoption, research shows that bricks and mortar shops re-opening in 2021 should lead to a slowdown of ecommerce growth. It’s difficult to predict anything in the current climate, but one thing’s for sure: more people than ever are shopping online.

Google reported a 2x increase in searches around ‘how to shop online’, showing that people seek to educate themselves in ecommerce and begin online adoption. 2021 is the year of ecommerce as the standard – where the majority of people’s spending takes place online. So, what does this mean for your ecommerce business? Here are some top ecommerce trends for 2021.

Multi-channel browsing

A product is no longer just a product. You’re buying into a story, or even a lifestyle, that a brand sells to you across a variety of media. From sponsored posts to third-party reviews, product marketing materials and even YouTube unboxings, it’s this type of experiential marketing that empowers consumers to make choices that suit them.

As an ecommerce business, your job is to represent your brand at each stage of the multi-channel journey. Consider where your audience hangs out online and become a part of those spaces. And that counts for not only owned media but for paid and earned, too. Grow your social media presence, actively engage on TrustPilot, develop your own YouTube channel… the list goes on. Customers research even the smallest purchases, so positioning yourself in their space from the outset is a must in 2021.

Free & faster delivery options

Online shoppers have always valued immediacy – hence the unstoppable rise of Amazon Prime’s next day delivery service. Now, however, lockdown habits have forced delivery expectations to become higher and higher. An ecommerce business should be able to make sure stock is displayed on-site, delivery times are precise, and there are various shipping options to choose from. Free delivery is always a preference – so if you can bake it into a product’s cost, it’s a good way to get ahead.

Local pickup for physical shops

Run an ecommerce business that also has a brick and mortar shop? You could be missing out on big revenue by not offering local pickup.
Fuelled by takeaways and ‘essential businesses’ offering click and collect, online buyers tend to favour the option to collect locally where possible. This will continue in 2021, and Shopify even recommends connecting online checkouts to local POS systems if you have a physical shop.

Social media and shoppable ads

Advertisements are getting smarter and smarter. Thanks to the age of influencers, it’s now possible to advertise products away from the confines of a traditional advertisement. Instead, influencers can wear your brand or use it on video. Invest in social media to help diversify your ads and then get clever with how the ads themselves work.

Influencer and social media marketing in general is wasted if it’s not convenient for the customer to buy straight from the ad itself. Whether you’re producing a normal ad for your own business or working with an influencer, exploring shoppable ads which allow customers to purchase with ease is essential.

Remember: shoppers in 2021 now expect speed, convenience and simplicity – so make sure your ads reflect that or you’re wasting time. Our paid advertisement freelancers can help you, click here to get started.

Optimise performance & purchases

The world’s rapid uptake of ecommerce means that customers have less patience than ever when shopping online. Use a digital marketing or analytics freelancer to ensure your site is optimised properly at every level and has no weaknesses in terms of load speeds, checkout process and bounce rate.

Once your site is as good as it can be, try to improve purchase paths – which means:

  • Better search functions for people trying to find products
  • Stronger filters for finding the right size and colour variants
  • A smooth checkout process for easy buying
  • Multiple ways to pay for a product – consider bank, PayPal, Klarna and other methods
  • A simple and effective returns process ReCommerce & sustainable shopping

As most traditional shops moved online in 2020, the battle for customer attention is more competitive than ever. While this leads to an inevitable price battle, it also means customers can be more selective over who they buy from. So, how do you stand out from your competitors? Surprisingly, 65% of buyers indicated they’d choose to make purchases from businesses that aim for sustainability.

Sustainability also extends to the idea of recommerce – reselling second-hand items through vintage stores and other second-hand retailers has become popular during 2020 and will continue in 2021. This appeals to customers for two reasons: a more sustainable choice and often, a reduced cost versus buying new.

Audit your existing products and see if there are ways to become more sustainable. How are you currently packaging your products? And do your suppliers mirror your values? Could you offer second-hand products?

Investing becoming a more sustainable business may involve a cost but could potentially pay for itself quickly through an increase in customers who want to shop more ethically.

AR integration

Always the bridesmaid, it’s time for Augmented Reality (AR) to be the bride in 2021. As customers begin to blur the lines between shopping, both in-store and online, AR allows you to create digital experiences in a physical space – an invaluable experience during the current climate. AR provides endless possibilities for brands in 2021. 360-degree AR try-ons are already commonplace among opticians; we expect this trend will continue to grow in popularity this year.

Virtual experiences

2020 blurred the line between digital and physical shopping. In 2021, virtual experiences will become more useful than ever for customers who seek to buy online. AI-powered shopping assistants on apps such as Facebook are one example of this. As an ecommerce business, are you creating better virtual shopping experiences for customers? Start with a chat-bot or interactive sizing chart and grow from there.

Cookieless marketing

While the UK may have officially left the EU, GDPR is still a pressing demand on businesses. GDPR rules is incorporated into UK data protection laws, so the same regulations apply as always.

GDPR is just one example of user privacy demands increasing. As technology evolves, businesses are expected to adopt a privacy-first approach, meaning minimal use of cookies or any other behaviour tracking tools. This can lead to challenges with marketing – where many styles of paid ad are reliant on cookies.

To future proof yourself, begin investing in a marketing strategy that doesn’t rely on third-party cookies and instead collects the right consent from the outset. You can invest in first-party data by offering value to customers in exchange for data. For example, you could create a discount code in exchange for opting-in an email address – remember to always include a clear unsubscribe button in all email communications. A strategy like this allows you to build trust with your consumers and prepare your business for a cookieless world.

Stay on top of the trends with Flow

With these emerging trends set to dominate 2021’s ecommerce market, it’s important to stay ahead of the competition. Hire freelancers from Flow to help your business flourish in the ever-changing world of online shopping.

← Back to Flow Blog