Businesses are never static. Keeping an eye on eCommerce trends allows you to keep your brand competitive and accumulate a positive brand image and increased conversion rates. To be specific, here are some reasons you should watch eCommerce trends:

  • It will help you stay on top of competition
  • You get to plan how you want to market and sell products
  • It will give you a head’s up in case you want to launch a new product
  • You can plan your next moves against perceived challenges for 2021

Looking at eCommerce trends will help you assess where the market wave is headed and therefore improve and align your strategies accordingly so that you will see big returns at the end of the year.

Below are the 6 eCommerce trends that we’ve spotted this 2021.

1. Changes In Consumer Behavior

ecommerce trends

One of the biggest eCommerce trend in 2021 is the changes on consumer lifestyle and spending habits brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online purchase demand in product categories such as home essentials, groceries, health, and hygiene has surged worldwide because consumers are wary to shop in-store. The pandemic has also resulted to the amplified people’s desire for immediacy, simplicity, and convenience

ecommerce trends

Statistica surveyed online shoppers about what they think would be good reasons to choose online shopping over in-store shopping. Take note that the participants were asked to multicheck anything that applies to their consumerism behavior.  63% said that they shop online due to direct home delivery, 57% do it because of more affordable prices, 54% say that it is a more convenient way to shop, and 50% said that they shop online because it is available 24/7. 

Not only do people want to shop online where it’s convenient, they also expect brands to have their product delivered fast. And there are indications that this shift will remain even after post-COVID. Based on a consumer survey, from the consumers who said they bought from various online brands during the pandemic, there were 60% who expected to continue buying from these brands even after the pandemic recovery. 

There is also a slight possibility that people’s online shopping habits will persist but not the same degree during the initial phases of the pandemic. It will depend on the satisfaction of their customers with regard to their online shopping experience. 

In order to stay relevant, brands need to reinvent traditional shopping experiences. Brick and mortar stores suggested to operate online via marketplaces like Shopee and Lazada. They should also upgrade people’s checkout experience by giving out vouchers, coupons, freebies, as well as quick shipping. Meanwhile, eCommerce sites can integrate one-tap checkouts for a faster transaction. They can also provide instant gratification to consumers through the “buy now, pay later” solution. 

After satisfying people’s need for fast and convenient shopping, your brand can make a bigger impact by incorporating personal connections with your customers through eCommerce live streaming. Viewers will be able to chat and interact with hosts and then purchase items in a single click. 

Also, experiment with AR (augmented reality). If your business involves showrooms or anything that places importance on visuals, you can incorporate AR through 3D modeling. With that, you will be able to create intimacy between customers and your products through 360-degree digital experiences. 

2. Omnichannel Selling Will Be The New Normal

Omnichannel marketing will become one of the biggest eCommerce trends in 2021 and it will arrive mostly in the form of video content. Based on a Social Media Today statistics, people spend one-third of their time online watching video content. 

Videos have an incredible ability to convey information about a product. Hence, people who saw a product through a video will be more inclined to make a purchase rather than if people only saw it from an image.

We already see video ads and eCommerce live streaming gaining a lot of traction. In the near future, we will see brands closely monitoring video-sales success across multiple channels.

As part of omnichannel marketing, there will be greater emphasis on building a community. One of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on society is a feeling of disconnectedness. According to Polling Firm Gallup, the age groups most affected are 18–34, and that this impact would most likely last beyond 2021. 

Alicia Thomas from PostScript believes that these feelings of disconnectedness will entice people to have higher expectations from brands in terms of customer experience. 

In terms of omnichannel marketing, brands will strive to build a sense of community. One possibility would be inspiring people to participate in campaigns that pushes charity or providing donations to a certain group. 

One example of a brand that utilizes this kind of marketing strategy is Purpose Jewelry. Purpose Jewelry employs survivors of human trafficking and artisans. And in an email campaign, they included the hashtag #SparkofHope along with direct quotes from the artisans they work with. With that, customers will see the impact they make on these artisans for each purchase made which inevitably gives them a sense of community. 

3. Voice Commerce Will Emerge

Voice shopping is one of the eCommerce trends that brands need to watch out for this year. It has began since late 2018 but it will become more mainstream this 2021.

People are becoming increasingly reliant on voice assistant devices such as Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, and Alexa to do everything for them not just in terms of searching for products online but also in everyday functions like waking up, calling a number, and sending messages. So, it’s not surprising that they’ll be opening doors for eCommerce as well. 

According to Voiceboat 75% of US households are going to have smart speakers by the year 2025. As a matter of fact, upon the emergence of voice commerce, there is an anticipation of $40 billion dollars by the end of 2022. 

Another reason that voice commerce is on the horizon is due to its convenience for users. Even Amazon and Google are already pushing regional languages in their voice assistants to aid us towards more convenient online shopping. 

If you have an eCommerce store, we encourage you to optimize your top-level conversion funnel content and answer your customers’ FAQs (frequently asked questions) about either your product or market. 

By providing this kind of value to prospects, they will be in your conversion path for when they decide to buy further down the line. 

4. Customer Fulfillment Will Be More Challenging

Brands currently have a 4-pronged consumer fulfillment mandate namely: fast, free, sustainable, and branded shipping. 64% of consumers in the global sense want their orders shipped for free while meeting same-day shipping cutoff times. The second and third acceptable shipping times are next-day and third-day deliveries. 

At the same time, there are also 72% of global consumers who expect their products to be shipped in sustainable packaging. Consumers developed a  preference for brands that are environmentally conscious. As a matter of fact, some of them are willing to pay a premium to have their products shipped in a sustainable manner. 

In this sense, the focal point is on using materials that are used, reused, and recycled. Consumers also expect minimalist packaging with reduced package sizes. 

According to the Global Web Index, 41.8% of global consumers want brands to be socially responsible. World Business Council for Sustainable Development conducted a similar survey on multiple countries and have gotten following responses:

Consumers Who Have A Propensity To Buy From Companies That Are Socially Responsible

China – 67%

Sweden – 47%

Australia – 52%

Japan – 40%

Netherlands – 35%

Canada – 34%

Italy – 33%

Brazil – 32%

Russia – 32%

Norway – 30%

Germany – 28%

Great Britain – 27%

France – 23%

Spain – 18%

At the same time, consumers also expect their products to be custom packaged or have branded packaging. Due to the rise of unboxing videos, prospects will most definitely be aware of how your brand packages products before they make a buying decision. 

5. Marketplace Dominance Will Post Challenges To Individual Brands

Half of all eCommerce sales globally occur in marketplaces. The sheer volume in marketplace participants challenge independent brands to also participate. 

About $2 trillion are spent on the top 100 marketplaces and little by little, our top retailers are jumping into the bandwagon. Target has launched its very own marketplace. Google is trying to lure merchants from Amazon. Even Walmart is trying to scale its current marketplace. 

One of the reasons marketplaces are popular among sellers is that it makes it easy for them to scale globally. Marketplaces are also of big help to small businesses because it allows them to fulfill orders easily and more efficiently. 

But a lot of big brands are resistant towards marketplace selling. This is simply because while marketplaces drive sales, it also tends to pressure margins. 

Some brands who have entered marketplaces have always had a concern about risking customer relationships due to the use of marketplaces. And it looks like this might become a reality soon. In 2020, Amazon received accusations of using the data of their merchants as a way to launch competing products. 

Here are some other issues that certain brands fear in marketplaces:

  • Marketplaces take a cut of revenue from brands
  • Inconsistent consumer behavior among several marketplaces
  • There is a lack of detailed insight in consumer behavior
  • Customer relationship is dominated and managed by the marketplace not the brand
  • Private white label creates added and biased competition for merchants

Despite the flaws in the marketplace system, marketplaces still help a lot new brands and merchants because it is a gateway for brand discovery. Still, when consumers come to marketplaces to make a purchase, they don’t usually do it in search of a brand. Instead, they come because they are trying to find a solution to a problem. 

According to analysts, search has become the new brand. So, if you have a good search rank, you have a bigger chance of converting viewers into customers.With that, brands will have a lot of competition. 

We can see an example of this complexity in Amazon. 70% of Amazon searches do not include the brand name. And 90% product views on this marketplace result from search and not from branded merchandising or ads. 

Marketplace dominance and consumer behavior are two of the biggest challenges of big brands in terms of business development and customer acquisition. And then there’s also consumers’ growing demand for brands with a higher purpose. 

Consumer values have become a determining factor in purchase decisions. Approximately 40% of global consumers are willing to pay a premium for products and brands that align with their beliefs such as sustainability, recycling, and donating a percentage of revenue to certain charities or ethnic groups. 

There are still a huge number of buyers who prefer buying branded items due to good product selection and product reliability. But since the start of the pandemic, so many customer journeys have started to take place in marketplaces. Independent brands simply do not have the necessary data to provide consumers with personalized experience that is required for purpose-driven selling. 

Strong brands recognize that they need to get customers from a marketplace to their own properties so they can create long-term customer relationships. Brands need to re-evaluate the branding potential of marketplaces and create a strategy to recreate customer experiences in their own properties. 

6. There Will Be An Increase In Advertising Uncertainty

There is going to be an increase in ad spend this 2021 which will inevitably lead to advertising uncertainty. But apart from that, there has also been a massive decline in consumer trust when it comes to digital ads for the following reasons: 

  • Some consumers think that digital ads have become intrusive
  • Some consumers are becoming annoyed about how their online search history is being used to target ads

As a matter of fact, Google recently announced its plan to phase out cookies from the chrome browser by 2022. There are also reports that Apple will be releasing future iOS updates that will result in a 50% decline in Facebook’s audience network advertising system. 

In the US, there is also an antitrust case against Google. This means that if you run a Google Ads campaign and you rely heavily on third-party data, you will potentially have to pay charges which will impact your ROI. 

One of the eCommerce trends that will rise in 2021 is the experimentation of various channels to serve as a marketing alternative. Various channels include:

  • Messaging apps
  • Voice shopping
  • Video commerce

But exploring these alternatives can also put a hamper on advertising uncertainty. And if messaging apps, video commerce, and voice shopping do take the place of digital advertising, some brands are curious to know if there is a way for them to own the customer relationships so that they can still be recognized as an individual brand. 

That being said, brands are highly recommended to focus on increasing their retention rates this 2021. With that, even if you don’t get to attract new customers through digital advertising, you will not feel the decline in sales because you have consistent revenue from loyal customers. Here are some pointers in increasing and maintaining your retention rate:

  • Identify your best and most loyal customers
  • Rank customers by value
  • Provide vouchers (marketplaces)or loyalty points (eCommerce store) to customers based on their value
  • Sell products that customers cannot find elsewhere

Can you think of other eCommerce trends that will prove to be impactful for online brands and sellers this 2021? Let us know in the comment section. 

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