At the peak of the global pandemic, ten years of eCommerce growth occurred in just 90 days.
As both small and huge businesses had to adjust to the new normal and shift their focus to selling online, let’s review some of the top eCommerce trends for 2021 that are still very relevant for your business.
eCommerce a year ago and today
An eCommerce trends report by Divante offers an insightful look at some of the widespread practices last year that are no longer relevant this year.
Some of the key takeaways include:
- Two trends that saw the biggest increase were AI usage in eCommerce and social commerce. Both of them are expected to be of major importance in 2021.
- To purchase new products, customers tend to go to multi-vendor marketplaces and social commerce websites.
- With so many businesses moving online, implementing the best cybersecurity practices is crucial. This applies to your digital files as well.
- The cryptocurrencies trend saw the biggest slump, as it was not able to meet the eCommerce expectations.
In general, according to the Divante report, eCommerce brands should focus the most of their effort and attention on the following fields:
- Social Commerce to increase sales.
- AI for personalized user experience.
- Marketplaces for increased selling options.
- Data security, as 76% of consumers consider cybersecurity as the top priority when deciding where to shop.
Understanding some of the key shifts from last year, let’s continue diving into the specific eCommerce trends that can help you increase your brand awareness and sales.
Trend #1 A shift to online shopping
According to the eCommerce trends 2021 Survey report by SearchNode, 7 out of 10 shoppers admitted that they started to shop more online than they did before the lockdown started.
More importantly, those who developed a habit of purchasing items online are likely to stick to this practice even in the aftermath of Covid-19.
The appeal for online shopping is unbeatable. Compared to regular shopping, purchasing items online is:
- more often than not cheaper;
- clearer, as users can get more insights on product materials, technical information, and more.
With digital shopping becoming more and more common, businesses need to implement strategies that would keep potential customers interested and willing to purchase - ideally, more than once.
To do that, brands should consider the following creative steps together with regular eCommerce practices:
- Offering more in-depth consultations on products. For instance, a cosmetics brand could offer a free 10-minute consultation with a skincare specialist, and a fashion brand could enable the customers to chat with a personal stylist;
- Implementing 3D and AR features to test out and try on products at home. We’ll discuss these latest technological advancements and their main benefits a bit further in the article.
- Live streaming product arrivals to introduce customers to recently added items, as well as live streaming shopping events.
Speaking about live streams, they are already very popular in China. And brands in the US are starting to implement them into their marketing strategy as well.
According to Shopify Plus’ annual report on global commerce trends, it is expected that live stream shopping events in the US will generate over $25 billion by 2023, as Amazon and Facebook are testing live sales platforms constantly. Two of the most prominent examples in eCommerce that have used such a strategy are Levi’s and Tommy Hilfiger.
Trend #2 Delivering a top-notch user experience is indispensable
As an increasing number of people are switching to online shopping, digital stores have to make the needed updates to ensure customers are satisfied with their shopping experience.
In other words, shopping online increased tremendously, and so did consumer expectations.
These days when browsing an online store, users anticipate a digital experience that is:
- desktop, tablet, and mobile-friendly.
It is only natural that those businesses that are able to satisfy these customer needs are more likely to see the best results in sales.
According to Shopify, as of today, only 38% of the largest companies are capable of competing on customer experience.
On the other hand, eCommerce companies that had an omnichannel strategy even before the global pandemic were able to replace 94% of point-of-sale (POS) purchases lost in the first month of the pandemic with online sales.
For your business to succeed in 2021, you’ll need to optimize your selling practices across different channels, including:
- online marketplaces;
- social media;
Doing so will put you among the top players in the market that are able to see an increase in sales even in the overall hard times such as the pandemic.
Trend #3 Mobile-friendliness is key
When it comes to superb user-experience, mobile-friendliness is key.
Did you know that even before the pandemic, mobile commerce accounted for 92% of eCommerce growth?
According to Shopify’s The Future of eCommerce Report for 2021, the trend is only to continue.
Users favor mobile shopping for the following reasons:
- ease of use;
- accessibility at nearly all times.
What businesses have to focus on is ensuring their website is perfectly mobile-friendly - starting from the website loading speed, intuitive design, responsiveness, and user-friendliness.
Improving the mobile shopping experience for your customers enables them to purchase from you at any time and in any place. And that is something all eCommerce brands strive for.
Trend #4 The rise of Augmented Reality (AR) and 3D visualizations
As we dive deeper into delivering a top-notch user experience, online businesses cannot go without implementing AR and 3D technologies.
In fact, in all the reports on eCommerce trends for 2021, you’ll find an emphasis on introducing the latest technology features to your eCommerce strategy.
According to the European Commission, as of today, 42% of companies currently use at least one AI technology, and another 18% plan to adopt them in the next two years.
The benefits of Augmented Reality
What AR technologies offer is the ability to try the products before purchasing them. For customers, it means saving time on deciding whether an item is the right fit for their home and lifestyle.
For companies, implementing AR features sends a message to their customers and competitors that a business is innovative, interactive, and dedicated to delivering top user experience. In terms of the bottom line, AR enables brands to reduce return rates and shipping costs.
3D visualizations for eCommerce
When it comes to 3D visualizations, they are becoming more and more common in eCommerce.
With 3D product visuals, customers can get a better sense of the product’s texture, size, and shape. 3D modeling also aids in creating a better user experience, as customers can observe an item in a 360-degree realistic experience.
Compared to regular photography, 3D visualizations offer a number of benefits:
- lower prices (sometimes up to 10x times);
- better user experience;
- flexibility in reusing digital files (e.g., AR, print, ads, video, etc.);
- brand presenting itself as an innovative business.
Save both time and money by implementing AR and 3D features
The global pandemic has also left us with packed post offices and overworked couriers. Therefore, businesses that offer solutions designed to overcome this issue win.
Brands that implement AR features and 3D technology in their eCommerce strategy are able to eliminate or at least reduce the number of returned items.
For example, Dutch brand Fatboy noticed that including the latest technologies in their marketing strategy helped them minimize costly returns. For bigger items (e.g., Fatboy sells the famous Beanbags), shipping back and forth can cost hundreds. And it is only natural companies strive to avoid such expenses.
Trend #5 Optimize the checkout experience for your customers
One of the key things when shopping online is a great checkout experience. Simply put, if you want to learn how to boost eCommerce sales, make the checkout experience as user-friendly and intuitive as possible.
Some ideas we recommend testing out:
- Connecting your online checkout to POS. It enables the user to choose between different shipping options, including picking the item themselves.
According to the Shopify data, if a user has an option to do a local pickup, they are “13% more likely to complete their online purchase and spend 23% more than customers using regular shipping.”
- Enable customers to buy directly from product pages.
- Introduce the feature that enables users to save their payment and shipping information on your e-shop.
- Offer discount codes to your newsletter subscribers and special promotions to those who buy more.
- Don’t forget the small details, such as Thank-you-for-purchasing messages to your clients. And if you can, offer 10% off on their future orders to keep the clients engaged.
Over the last year, eCommerce saw tremendous changes, and the transformation is only to continue. With changed online shopping behavior, high online shoppers’ expectations, and the increasing role of technologies in marketing, eCommerce retailers will have to act fast and make needed tweaks.
Below are our top tips for your brand to implement to adjust faster to the eCommerce growth trends:
- Improve your product visualization and user experience by adopting the latest AR and 3D technologies.
- Make sure your e-shop is as user-friendly as possible. Think of attention-grabbing colors, pop-ups, notifications, and other features.
- Consider collaborating with influencers to promote your brand on social media platforms.
- Make sure your employees are the best brand ambassadors. More and more brands these days are moving to LinkedIn, and making the most of the platform to promote your business should be a part of your eCommerce marketing strategy.
- If you don’t already, create an email or SMS marketing strategy to keep your current customers and attract new ones.
- Think of creating incentives for your customers.
- Consider engaging in affiliate marketing programs.