6 Ecommerce Trends Every Brand Should Know for 2021 (and Beyond)

Until 2020, the evolution of ecommerce had been on a relatively consistent trajectory. The percentage of shopping done online was increasing annually at a predictable rate. The number of retailers prioritizing mobile commerce was steadily growing, as was the number of brands investing in social media advertising.

Then suddenly, as physical retail locked down in cities around the globe, online sales skyrocketed, surging by more than 30% and reaching levels not expected until 2022. And with millions now stuck at home and working remotely, time spent on connected devices grew by 25%.

In response to these massive changes, retailers have had to completely transform their approach to the shopping experience, resulting in the emergence of the following ecommerce trends.

Expansion of Total Commerce

In a study from IBM and the National Retail Federation, 71% of consumers reported shopping whenever the mood strikes them. Dubbed “micro-moments”, these are opportunities consumers take to shop while performing other activities, such as watching TV or exercising.

Consequently, rather than expecting consumers to go somewhere specific to buy your products, you must situate your brand in the myriad of shopping channels available.

This is the core tenant of total commerce, which involves creating a seamless omnichannel experience across your entire shopping ecosystem—e.g., in-store, marketplaces, mobile, social media, and your website. Embracing total commerce allows you to capitalize on micro-moments and inspire shoppers to buy.

Data-Driven Personalization

Ninety-one percent of consumers claim they’re more likely to shop with brands who provide customized offers and recommendations. And 72% of shoppers report they only engage with personalized marketing content.

In other words, you must leverage data in your marketing campaigns.

Data-driven personalization is at the heart of total commerce. Understanding where and how your audience shops as well as what motivates and influences their purchasing decisions enables you to create holistic customer profiles supported by more than just basic demographic details. In turn, you can serve targeted marketing content with product suggestions personalized specifically for them.

Acceleration of Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) Selling

Thanks to the ever-increasing number of shopping channels and fulfillment services providers, the biggest barriers to engaging in D2C selling have been all but eliminated.

Selling directly to consumers offers two major benefits:

  1. higher profit margins since there’s no marketplace taking a cut of sales, and
  2. access to additional data since you have insight into the entire customer journey.

D2C selling also makes it easier to build brand loyalty because you have control over 100% of the shopping experience. This means you can utilize personalization strategies and offer custom rewards for repeat purchases, such as promo codes and exclusive sales.

Arrival of Discovery Commerce

New shopping features within Instagram and Facebook coupled with increases in both social media adoption and screen time are driving the next generation of ecommerce -  “discovery commerce”.

A term coined by Facebook, discovery commerce is centered around recognizing the shift in how consumers shop—i.e., products need to find people, not the other way around. It involves seamlessly incorporating shopping into consumers’ everyday consumption of digital media via technology like shoppable Instagram posts and Facebook Shops.

Implementing a discovery commerce strategy empowers you to interact with shoppers where they are and take advantage of the fact today’s always-on consumers are always ready to make a purchase.

Frictionless Shipping and Returns Experience

What differentiates brands with loyal customers from brands who rarely see repeat purchases? Commitment to a quality shipping and returns experience.

More than ¾ of consumers say fast shipping speed is a top element of a great shopping experience. And over half of shoppers aged 18-35 reported a negative returns experience led to them never shopping with that retailer again.

How you manage dispatching deliveries and accepting returns can’t be an afterthought. You must be transparent about order processing times, when a shopper can expect items to be shipped and delivered, and what they’ll need to do if they decide to return anything.

Supply Chain Diversification

In 2020, retailers discovered that surviving global disruption is possible, but only if they prioritize business and supply chain continuity, and develop a strategy for mitigating threats to both.

You must understand each element of your supply chain, including the entities and functions involved in each step and the impact an issue in one part of the network can have on the rest of the process. Then, you must identify ways to diversify your supply chain.

One example is dual sourcing, in which you receive identical products from two different suppliers—preferably one local and one international. Since this significantly reduces the risk of being completely without certain merchandise, it helps you avoid lost revenue.

Ultimately, your goal is to be wherever your customers are when they are ready to shop. If you capitalize on these ecommerce trends, you can look forward to capturing every revenue opportunity and driving customer loyalty and repeat purchase.

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