8 Essential Ecommerce Trends for 2021
By now we’re all aware of how disruptive COVID-19 has been.
The world is a brand new place, and not just socially and politically, but economically as well. The virus has affected how people shop in such untold ways that commercial vendors are scrambling every day just to stay on top of things.
As for ecommerce, COVID hasn’t so much rocked the boat as sped it up. Trends that were supposed to take a year or more to materialize have been accelerated.
And in order to survive and thrive in the new ecommerce world, you’ll need to jump on board.
Here are 8 essential ecommerce trends to prepare for in 2021.
1. Social commerce
As far as ecommerce trends go, this one might be the worst-kept secret.
Mainly because everyone and their dog (quite literally “their dog”—Google “dog accounts on Instagram” and you get just shy of 100M results) is glued to their phones these days, swiping and browsing.
But the true trend lies in innovations like Instagram Checkout, which are making it easier than ever before for customers to make social purchases by removing barriers and letting them stay on their social app of choice, rather than being shunted off to the site in question, for the entire buying experience.
According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for social commerce, estimated at $89.4B in 2020, is projected to balloon to $604.5B by 2027.
Now 2027 might feel like a long way off, but every year between now and then is slated to see huge growth.
You’d be wise to start exploring omnichannel ecommerce and pumping out those shoppable posts.
Billed as the future of online shopping experiences, progressive web applications alter how your website appears and functions on mobile, turning it from a potentially clunky site to one that, for all intents and purposes, operates like an app.
We all know how important mobile has been to the rise of ecommerce. It’s a trend that’s set to continue: Statista reports that, by 2021, 72.9 percent of all retail ecommerce is expected to be generated via mobile.
It only makes sense to give your mobile customers a seamless experience. Engaging a PWA and turning your mobile site into one that feels like an app is more than a nice-to-have, it’s a must-do.
Check out this article on Medium for 15 examples of ecommerce PWAs.
3. Set-and-forget subscriptions
Do you offer a cyclical product? One that your customers usually purchase repeatedly, maybe even at regular intervals throughout the year?
Think of Dollar Shave Club.
Customers sign up for repeat deliveries of shaving products like razors, aftershaves, creams, and soaps. The more they buy, and the more often they want deliveries, the more they save.
The reason for offering those savings is that “subscribe and save” options let you better calculate your quarterly and annual revenue projections, which means you can fearlessly commit money to growing your business.
Savings for the customer and reliable revenue for you? Sounds like a win-win ecommerce trend to us.
4. Environmental sustainability
Ten years ago, “sustainability” might have seemed like a passing fad, a buzzword that only a small portion of your customer base cared about.
Today, and in 2021, it’s something that can’t be ignored.
And not just because it’s the right thing to do to help ease the pressure on our planet’s finite resources, but because customers are demanding it… and choosing products and companies based on it.
To wit, Nielsen found that 75% of global consumers say they would definitely change their consumption habits to reduce environmental impact.
When the same study asked millennials if it was important that companies implement programs to improve the environment, 83% of them said it was “extremely” or “very” important.
BigCommerce has a couple of ideas on how you can adopt this ecommerce trend (that’s looking like it’s actually here to stay):
- Update your brand ethos.
- Implement sustainable shipping.
- Reduce packaging.
- Create recycling policies.
- Reduce energy waste.
- Add products that support sustainability
- Create an offset service charge at checkout.
- Consider an ecommerce marketplace to resell your used merchandise.
5. AI-powered personalization
Countless stores have closed their doors. The ones that remain open have salespeople in masks under orders not to engage too much.
Now more than ever, people are craving that personal experience that COVID has taken away.
Luckily, your ecommerce site can replicate it.
By engaging in natural conversation and analyzing searching and filtering behaviors, AI-powered tools like Automat learn from your customers to offer tailored product recommendations and personalize your site exactly to their needs.
The demand for personalization is an ecommerce trend that isn’t going away.
You know what is going away? The online businesses that don’t offer it.
6. Headless commerce
Salesforce explains what headless commerce is:
In its simplest form, headless commerce is a separation of the front end and back end of an ecommerce application. This architecture offers brands freedom of expression to build whatever and however they want. Most importantly, it enables brands to enrich the customer experience.
As an ecommerce maven, you know how tough it can be to keep up with the latest tech and best practices.
Headless commerce makes it easier. It reduces the time your IT guy/girl/team has to spend updating your site and lets you make the improvements and get back online more quickly.
Updates no longer have to be rolled out system-wide, allowing you to move faster and remain competitive in a rapidly evolving ecommerce landscape.
It’s the equivalent of working smarter, not harder, and it’s an ecommerce trend that you should be looking at for 2021.
7. Diversify your payment options
We’ll keep this one short and sweet.
Your site should be equipped to handle any and all types of payment. From PayPal, to Amazon Pay, to Apple Pay, to Shopify Pay… the list goes on.
Offering payment options removes friction from your store experience (see No. 3 here), something you should always be striving to do.
Customers like options. And when it comes to getting paid, business owners like them too.
8. Don’t sleep on voice
Voice commerce is a thing now. And in 2021, it figures to be a big thing.
As smart speakers become more and more ubiquitous, and the general population’s comfort (and dependency) on them grows, voice commerce is positioned as the next major retail disruptor.
Global strategy consultants OC&C found that, in the States alone, voice commerce will account for $40B worth of retail sales by 2022, up from just $2B in 2017.
We’re not mathematicians, but isn’t that an increase of 1900% over five years?
Trends come and go, they morph and change all the time. And that’s true for ecommerce trends too, but as far as the next year of your business is concerned, the 8 above are worth committing to.