Digital analysts, marketers and industry experts are shouting it from the rooftops: now is the era of eCommerce.
With increasing digitalization and demand for access to anything and everything online, retailers across the globe have a simple choice: Dedicate time to understanding online commerce, or risk losing out on what is potentially your biggest market.
Without further ado, we’re going to remedy any questions you have about running an eCommerce business in 2021, with this handy list of the biggest trends coming your way (and some tips on how to tackle them):
Quick and easy shopping, for everyone
Shopify estimates that nearly 150 million new online shoppers have become active since the start of the Covid pandemic. This poses an interesting challenge and risk for eCommerce businesses. On the one hand, online sales are at an all-time high. On the other hand, you’ve now got to deal with a less tech-savvy user, with a world of competition at their fingertips.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Streamlining your sales funnel:
- Simple, fast check-outs encourage that all-important first buy by new customers. One step too many in the process, and you’ve lost them.
- The omnichannel approach:
- Creating a uniform buying experience from in-person sales to mobile shopping is vital in 2021.
- Retail therapy online:
- Design a shopping experience that delivers the joy of shopping, keeping UX in mind when building your online store.
- eCommerce management platforms:
- Just as your customers enjoy simplicity, make your own life simpler too, with eCommerce management software and widgets. You’ll thank yourself later.
- New demographics:
- Did you hear? Even boomers are shopping online these days.
End-to-end is king
With some retailers selling online for the first time and marketplaces setting up increasingly efficient supply chains, the race is on to provide the cheapest, fastest, most exciting shopping experience. Online buyers have high expectations for an end-to-end service, and brands are rising to the challenge. From warehousing to branded packaging to returns management, order fulfilment quality can make or break your business.
But we’re not all Amazon, so growing eCommerce enterprises can contract retail support companies that take care of these operations and resource management for online stores.
Of course, an optimized buying process starting from that first click is vital, so many are opting to use eCommerce widgets and plugins too, allowing them to easily streamline the visitor journey from initial entry to online sale.
eCommerce and creative tech
We’ve all seen shoppable ads and smart assistants like Alexa. These new technologies are becoming part and parcel of the eCommerce experience. This trend also shows growth in the use of AI to improve the user experience, and AR to allow customers to ‘try on’ products before buying them. All of this points to a strong, competitive creativity with tech in online shopping this year.
How will you impress your site visitors enough to buy?
Customer retention challenges
The strength of your brand is going to come into play in 2021. Marketplaces remain popular, where your brand power is diluted, and you have little direct contact with your customer. Plus, the uncertainty of data sharing laws and third party cookies is sure to push up the cost of customer acquisition, and thus escalate competition.
In light of this challenge, a top priority and trend is to prioritize customer retention and loyalty. How?
- Gather emails:
- Direct communication with your customer is going to be more and more beneficial, so focus on collecting email leads for more reliable retention.
- It’s valuable to reward loyalty and offer targeted discounts. Plus, offering packs or subscriptions can help foment long term relationships. (Plesk Partners, take note!)
- Remember your brand is everything:
- Customers feel more connected, and therefore more loyal, to brands that they trust to communicate transparently. Community building outside of your site or service can work wonders for effective customer retention.
Go green and sustainable
It’s no longer enough to sell a great product. Consumers now demand that brands commit to processes that are better for the planet and the community. The continued rise of ‘Green consumerism’ will bring some noteworthy trends for eCommerce in 2021. Retail styles like second-hand eCommerce (a.k.a ReCommerce) are reaching new popularity, while existing sellers must strive for sustainable delivery and fair, environmental production of their wares.
It’s an analytics game
Change in the eCommerce market is lightspeed. The needs and wants of your customers will evolve from week to week, so this trend is about knowing your customer inside-out. Invest in hyper-analysing user behaviour, social media and offline tendencies. The objective is then to drive change that predicts the market. Techniques like dynamic pricing (i.e. adapting to the demand in real time) remain popular this year, as brands recognize the power of this trend.
Be sure to power your site with robust monitoring and analytics through your eCommerce management software or other extensions.
Phew. So we can all agree that the online world (like the offline world) has greatly evolved since 2019, creating new challenges and opportunities. The key ideas to remember are:
- Customers want a complete service, with a quick and easy user experience from beginning to end of the shopping life cycle.
- eCommerce is making use of the best new technologies to give brands a competitive edge. Pay attention to AI and AR.
- Brand loyalty has never been so important, with a clear necessity for retention strategies and truly connecting with your audience.
What else do you see in the future of eCommerce? Cryptocurrency as a payment method? 3D modelling becoming the best way to present your store online? How will the market respond to the disappearance of third-party cookies? Share your ideas and insights in the comments!