Ecommerce trends anticipated for 2021 — SwiftERM

If you’re hoping to get more traction for your eCommerce brand, drive more traffic and convert that traffic into buying customers, then it’s important to know the latest trends shaping the industry.

The year 2020 was a massive one for eCommerce given the effects of COVID. The pandemic sped up changes across several verticals, and that acceleration is expected to continue in some capacity as we move into 2021 and beyond.

1. Customers will shop in marketplaces rather than eCommerce stores

Businesses that didn’t even have a website before 2020 have suddenly come online. However, consumer behavior continues to favor convenience. Many newer eCommerce businesses lack the backend infrastructure to cope with an increase in traffic and the requirements of shipping currently being placed on them.

On the other hand, companies such as Amazon and Walmart have the experience and infrastructure required to satisfy today’s customers. Other niche marketplaces such as Etsy continue to grow to accommodate new digital entrepreneurs.

Nick Hayes of RANDYS Worldwide explains,

“As shoppers realize the ease of shopping in a marketplace is easier and more convenient than shopping on multiple eCommerce stores — with the mental satisfaction of 2–3 day shipping and free returns on most items and most marketplaces, consumers will expect the same from all other eCommerce sites. The bar has been set. Big eCommerce companies offer the best of both worlds: they provide value to consumers, low barrier to entry for brands to sell online, and user-generated content that perpetuates both product and content relevance as well as search rank.”

How to take advantage

Think of it as another channel and diversify your brand by listing products on marketplaces.

While it’s important to grow your digital presence through a website or eCommerce store, the most critical thing is your customer’s convenience.

If you’re just starting out or have a brand with low exposure, become a seller on your industry’s top marketplaces. This way, you can take advantage of the high traffic reach, swift shipping and overall experience of these larger companies.

However, be careful not to only rely on these marketplaces. You don’t own the customer data when you sell your products on sites like Amazon which can be a limit for your brand growth. The solution is to drive visitors to your site by offering them limited edition products that create urgency and scarcity.

2. Online buying will not be limited to B2C products

Suddenly food, fashion and gadgets weren’t the only things people could purchase online and have delivered to their doors. Groceries, furniture and even vehicle parts have joined the list.

These changes to buying habits might slow down slightly as people are able to return to their regular routines, but they certainly won’t stop.

The shift of eCommerce from something people became dependent on rather than a simple convenience will mean that brands need to adapt their strategies accordingly.

How to take advantage

Whether you’re a manufacturer, B2B or something else, start selling D2C or D2B.

The products you’re selling can now be bought online. You simply need to make it easier for your customers to buy from you.

You can start by creating an online catalog which contains all of your products. Next, build a user-friendly buying experience by augmenting that catalog with relevant content.

3. Self-service platforms will continue to rise in popularity

Getting started online was once a long and painstaking process. But, 2020 has changed the narrative and shown us how quickly small businesses and solopreneurs can digitally pivot their businesses.

“The trend for 2021 will favor platforms that deploy & sell quickly online, without the need for a small army of developers & consultants,”

… says Chris Byrne, CEO of Sensorpro.

How to take advantage

Rather than going the expensive route the first time around with your eCommerce store, search for platforms that can help you get up to speed quickly.

If your brand is already established, consider creating templated content that can help your audience get up to speed quickly with using your products or solving a common problem within your industry.

4. Shoppable video ads on social media

Social media consumption won’t slow down in 2021, and brands will begin to advertise in different ways on channels such as TikTok and Instagram.

According to Digital Growth Initiator Eduard Klein,

“Zoomers spend hours scrolling TikTok and Instagram feeds. Merchants are in seventh heaven; video is the perfect channel for reaching the curious young target audience. Gen-Z can make buying decisions literally from their social media feed, and videos let them shop straight away.”

Brands have already started to get a lot of value from placing ads in stories on apps like Instagram and Snapchat, so this is just the next step in the evolution of social media selling.

This year we’ve seen Facebook launch Instagram Shops and Shopify partner with TikTok. In 2021, we’ll see what brands can do with these changes.

How to take advantage

Video provides another dimension when it comes to marketing your products. If you’re a D2C brand, then record videos of your top-performing products and place them on the social media platforms where your audience can be found the most.

Your videos can vary from unboxing videos to tutorials or explainer videos. Product images can even be converted into a slideshow and user-generated content can be reposted to capitalize on the video frenzy.

5. Omnichannel selling will be the norm

Lauren Davis of Just After Midnight put it this way:

“Omnichannel selling will become the new normal. We’re really seeing this with the public cloud platforms moving into this space with tools like Amazon Personalize and Pinpoint. This could potentially be disruptive in an interesting way, but the bottom line is omnichannel selling, and those kinds of capabilities will be cheaper and more accessible. 2021 will be the year this moves from something some are doing to something most are doing.”

Most businesses are already aware that customers want to view content in multiple ways. Tablets, mobile phones and desktops are just the beginning. And like we’ve mentioned in other trends, brands are discovering new ways to sell their products through social media.

Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon Personalize are two products from Amazon Web Services (AWS) that enable brands to improve the customer experience and communicate with customers across multiple channels.

How to take advantage

Start by doing a deep dive into your customer and understand the things that matter the most to them and the channels they frequently visit.

Today’s customers are seeking a cohesive buying experience across multiple channels. To facilitate this, brands need to use headless commerce architecture that delivers content and products to any screen or device with the help of APIs.

It can be enticing to want to be everywhere, but you should start by focusing on the channels where your customers go the most and sell to them there.

6. Analytics will flourish

In the world of eCommerce, customer data will continue to gain value. Many brands focus on the basic, but vital metrics provided to them, such as click-through-rate on specific campaigns and conversion metrics that indicate where the bulk of traffic and sales are coming from.

However, as we roll into 2021, many will uncover data capabilities and get even more granular.

Vanhishikha Bhargava of Contensify explains,

“Segmentation is going to go beyond just one-time sales and loyal customers. It’s going to be a lot about how they interact with your eCommerce business. Knowing who your price-sensitive customers are. Knowing which one of your customers would rather buy full-price and who are more likely to abandon carts, and so on.”

How to take advantage

See what data you currently have available about your customers and your eCommerce stores. Are you able to gather enough insights from it? If not, see if you can upgrade to another tier that enables you to really drill down into the data.

If you can’t, see what other analytics platforms can help you as better data can yield better results, such as:

  1. Segment your audience by geographical location, age and gender, buying habits, total spendings, and more.
  2. Determine which channels led your customers to your store.
  3. Understand which content leads to the most conversions.
  4. Generate ready-made reports.
  5. Integrate with your CRM, CMS and more to gain a 360-degree view of your eCommerce business.

As Bhargava points out, “This will take the ability to personalize campaigns to a new level. You can apply the same to products. Knowing what’s trending, what’s not, what’s refunded or returned the most, is a great way to timely pick up on changes in consumer needs. Getting to save up on inventory holding costs, will give eCommerce businesses more mileage and resources for marketing and growing their business.”

Originally published at https://www.swifterm.com on December 30, 2020.

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David Swift

Founder & CEO of SwiftERM the personalization SaaS. Microsoft partners.