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Consumers on apps and the web to do business demand speed and efficiency to do their stuff. Meanwhile, the pandemic has amplified consumers’ growing desire for convenience, immediacy, and simplicity. Consumers, to be sure, are drawn to brands that offer fast, free, and sustainable delivery. New research and purchasing habits are leading brands to personalize themselves with a human touch. 

Retention has moved beyond acquisition and conversion is a top priority for companies. Historically, improving customer loyalty by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%, and 78% of consumers in the United States say a loyalty program encourages them to buy more from brands. (1

Trend #1. Augmented reality and virtual reality will boom 

Not only applicable in the context of eCommerce trends, but AR and VR are also increasingly present in the lives of consumers. Augmented reality refers to the mixture of the physical and virtual worlds. With your phone, specialized glasses, headphones, etc., you integrate digital elements into your world.  

Virtual reality aims to immerse you entirely in a new world. Again, you can access it with special tools like helmets or special goggles. Applications such as Pokémon Go and Ikea make it possible to assess the attractiveness of consumers for this type of technology. It allows you for example to preview the products. In the case of Ikea, this technology is useful to the consumer, who can be sure of his correct purchasing decision. 

Trend #2. E-commerce boom fuels record competition online 

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, 10 years of e-commerce growth occurred in just 90 days. E-commerce reached a record high of 16.4% of total global retail sales. It’s not just Gen Z and Millennials that are driving this trend – older shoppers have moved online as well. According to a global survey of 11 marketplaces by Shopify, 84% of consumers have shopped online during the pandemic. (2

Although global e-commerce growth slows before resuming in 2022, e-commerce sales are at an all-time high after the pandemic accelerated years of growth in just a few weeks. Record-breaking competition in e-commerce, fueled by old wholesalers, global retail giants, and product categories not traditionally purchased online, are driving up customer acquisition costs. 

Trend #3. ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) 

ROPO refers to the action consumers take when they inquire about a product online, before buying it in a physical store. This is one of the eCommerce trends, but not only, since it is omnichannel and therefore also applies to offline businesses. 

This action thus serves the omnichannel strategy of merchants with a physical store, as well as an E-Commerce. In particular, this saves time in the store, by letting the customer take the information, rather than asking the salesperson. When the customer searches the internet before buying in a physical store, they are also relying on any social proof they may come across. The details of your product are not enough, that’s why integrating customer reviews on your product sheets and your business will allow you to increase your conversion rate. 

Trend #4. Flexibility and scalability through cloud commerce 

Due to increased investments in the retailer’s infrastructure, shop systems in the cloud will continue to play a decisive role in 2021. Whether for beginners or professionals – for a long-term successful future in online trading, retailers are optimally positioned with complete systems of shop software, operation, maintenance, and support. The scalable shop system is adapted to the growing number of customers, the individual needs and requirements of the shop at any time. A strong performance is thus guaranteed. In addition, the seamless interaction between software and operation ensures that all important components are optimally coordinated and that project times are short during implementation. 

Trend #5. Eco-responsibility, ethics, and authenticity 

Consumers are increasingly demanding eco-responsibility and ethics from merchants. Transparency and the carbon footprint have now become very important subjects and must be highlighted in order to hope to reach a majority of consumers.  

The ecological responsibility of the e-trader does not only go through the products sold and their production process but also through delivery. The means of delivery are not all equal when it comes to eco-responsibility, and some of them pollute more than others. Eco-responsibility is not only one of the eCommerce trends for 2021 but represents a turning point in general consumption. 

Trend #6. New consumer behaviors are reshaping the future of retail 

With consumers still hesitant to buy in-store, the demand for online shopping in new product categories has increased worldwide. Here are the reasons to buy an item online: 

  • Direct delivery to my home 
  • A cheaper price 
  • A more convenient way to shop 
  • Available 24 hours a day 
  • A wider range of products 
  • More comparison possibilities 
  • More product information 
  • Undisturbed purchasing process 
  • I prefer online shopping in general 

Consumers around the world are shopping for items rarely purchased online before the pandemic, such as groceries, health and hygiene products, and basic necessities. The pandemic has amplified the consumer’s desire for convenience and immediacy. The permanence of these changes will be determined by how satisfied consumers are with online experiences. Unlocking the future of retail means offline and online innovation that enables consumers to shop wherever they shop, try your products with augmented reality (AR) before they buy, and design products. virtual versions of retail shopping experiences 

Trend #7. Fulfillment appears as a competitive differentiator 

Today’s brand has a four-pronged enforcement mandate: fast, free, durable, and branded shipping. Set free shipping thresholds to protect profit margins, as consumers around the world expect fast delivery for online orders. Turn order fulfillment into a competitive advantage by bringing inventory closer to customers, automating returns, and offering flexible options like a curbside pickup. To the question, which of these things do you most want brands to do? 41.8% want brands to be socially responsible. (3

Globally, 64% of consumers want their orders shipped for free, while cutting-edge e-commerce and strict same-day shipping times have made it difficult to meet growing customer demand. And 67% of U.S. consumers expect same-day, next-day, or two-day delivery, while 72% of global consumers want brands to use sustainable packaging. With order processing costs soaring, brands need to make fulfillment a strategic asset. Order processing needs to be smarter, closer to the consumer, and automated. 

Trend #8. Brand building challenged by market domination 

Half of all global e-commerce sales take place in markets where consumers are looking for solutions rather than brands. Building a brand has never been more important or more difficult. The good news is that socially conscious consumers are willing to pay a premium for brands with purpose. Brands need to transform their in-market product pages into rich, immersive experiences while delivering unique personalized products through their own channels. 

In a world where markets dominate and search is often unbranded, branding has never been more important or more difficult. Half of all global e-commerce sales occur in marketplaces, and volume alone compels brands to participate. The most popular online marketplaces in the world in 2019, based on gross merchandise volume (in billions of US dollars). 

  • Taobao – 538B 
  • Tmall – 472B 
  • Amazon – 339B 
  • JD.com – 295B 
  • eBay – 90B 

Trend #9. Retention becomes a top priority as acquisition costs rise 

Customer acquisition costs are rising worldwide across all channels, with rates on Facebook rebounding to pre-pandemic levels. Globally, consumers and regulators are wary of big tech, leading Google and Apple to consider making it more difficult to target channel ads. To combat rising acquisition costs and advertising uncertainty, brands are experimenting with new channels such as voice purchases. They also prioritize retention, rewarding, and enticing existing customers to spend more. 

Even though overall ad spends are expected to decrease by 20% in 2020, digital ad spend is expected to increase by 13%. The drop in customer acquisition costs caused by the pandemic was short-lived. Costs on Facebook have rebounded and are near or near pre-pandemic highs. At the end of 2020, paid search increased 17%, and paid social advertising increased 24%.(4

Competition, fueled by the shift to e-commerce, is accelerating the growth of digital advertising. Industry data shows increased spending on paid search, social media, and TV. Confidence has also plummeted among consumers: a third of consumers think digital ads are too intrusive, and users in the US, UK, China, Brazil, and Germany are upset when advertisers use their history. 

What are the new channels? 

  • Voice commerce will reach $ 40 billion in the United States by 2022. 
  • By 2024, more than 110 million, or nearly 84%, of all American households will have a Smart TV. 
  • Video commerce is also growing on other screens. 

Trend #10. Data security and reinsurance elements 

Always at the center of consumers’ concerns, online security and trust are once again among the most important elements to take into account, as an e-merchant.  

Security does not only take into account protection against online attacks, for example but also elements of reassurance for consumers. Among these elements, we can find: 

  • trust badges (such as secure payment methods) 
  • the customer reviews (reassuring the quality of your products) 
  • cookies 

Trend #11. Push or social commerce through new shopping functions on platforms 

Social commerce remains on the rise. Thanks to new shopping functions and the optimization of the platforms, product purchases via social networks continue to gain momentum. For example, Instagram is about to roll out a direct order with checkout directly in the app, and YouTube is also testing new social commerce functions. With the introduction of shopping carts on WhatsApp, users can view product catalogs from various brands, collect different products and pass the full selection directly to the shop in the chat. New social commerce functions offer retailers not only additional interfaces to customers but also new sales opportunities.  

Trend #12. The share of mobile commerce continues to rise 

A long-running favorite and now a must-have for successful online retailers: Mobile commerce will also be one of the top topics in e-commerce in 2021. By the end of the year, it is even expected that around three-quarters of all eCommerce purchases will be made via smartphones and tablets. For online retailers, the agenda for 2021 is clear: Mobile usability must be integrated and sharpened even more into corporate concepts. Your own shopping app is no longer music of the future, it is clearly within reach! 
 

Conclusion: stay tuned 

One thing is clear, eCommerce will continue to grow in many industries in 2021. The right technological infrastructure and fast implementation decide who can keep up with the big players. 

The focus of the eCommerce trends 2021 is primarily on further development. The potential of already known eCommerce technologies is far from exhausted. The digital world is fast-moving and online retailers have to deal with constantly improving themselves and breaking new ground. What works well today may be outdated tomorrow. 

To stay on the ball, a reliable and active system partner is worth its weight in gold. A flexibly scalable shop system supports retailers in meeting the upcoming requirements. 

To know more on how we can help you fulfill your eCommerce needs, get in touch now! 

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