E-commerce saw massive growth in 2020, thanks to the nature of the pandemic and how it has forced consumers to do their shopping from the comforts of their homes and with brick-and-mortar stores finding themselves incredibly limited. Online shopping saw a 129 percent year-over-year increase in North America, with an overwhelming 146 percent growth in online retail stores.
There’s no denying that e-commerce is now part of our daily lives, and business owners need to stay abreast of how the pandemic and the recession will shape and re-define it for 2021. Here are some e-commerce trends to adjust to and watch for this year.
Online competition continues to heat up.
Because the COVID-19 crisis accelerated years of growth in only a matter of weeks, global e-commerce growth might see itself slowing down this year before picking up and making a recovery in 2022. E-commerce competition will heat up as global retail juggernauts, legacy wholesalers, and product categories that are not usually bought online drive up customer acquisition costs.
And since many new competitors and smaller businesses are not as equipped to compete with corporate giants in terms of customer experience, companies with more resources will naturally have an edge since they will have more access to immersive omnichannel experiences provide to consumers.
Creating a bond with consumers will take center-stage.
While much can be said about the ethics of brands creating parasocial relationships and emotional bonds with consumers, there’s no denying that personalizing a message to fit a consumer’s values and needs during this time. A study by Smarter HQ found that 72 percent of consumers engage with content with personalized messaging as long as brands don’t cross the line with their data and information.
In the same report, 90 percent of respondents said that they don’t mind having their behavioral data shared if it means they will gain an easier and more affordable brand experience. That being said, remember that having access to consumer information is a privilege and a trust, and their right to privacy should never be violated.
Sustainability will be a value for many shoppers.
Gone are the days when sustainability or green consumerism are only reserved for a few brands. When the whole world is experiencing severe versions of natural occurrences like pandemics and natural disasters, more consumers will be drawn towards brands that care about the environment. Larger corporations like Amazon have already taken steps towards solidifying their commitment to sustainability.
Other e-commerce brands will likely follow suit as consumers decide to reduce waste and preserve the earth’s natural resources for future generations. Conscious and green consumers are also expressing commitment towards only purchasing from eco-friendly stores, with 65 percent of shoppers saying they will only purchase from sustainable brands, according to a Harvard Business Review study.
Your online store can take advantage of this trend by partnering with companies that provide 3PL shipping and returns to help you make use of leftover inventory or stocks that have been returned to you instead of letting them go to a landfill. Use eco-friendly packaging and materials that your consumers can re-purpose and reclaim. When consumers see that your store cares about protecting our planet, they might be more inclined to choose your brand over others.
There will be a switch to omnichannel selling.
Since most consumers would rather view content in more ways than one, brands will be adjusting to this reality by providing them with new ways to shop. Amazon is already ahead of the curve with Amazon Personalize and Amazon Pinpoint, two offerings from Amazon Web Services (AWS), which will allow brands and stores to enhance customer experience and reach millions of customers across multiple channels.
Business owners can take advantage of this by understanding that even though consumers want multiple options to view products and services, they still want a cohesive buying and customer experience across multiple channels. Brands then need to avail of headless commerce architecture that can help deliver products and content to any device or screen and the help of APIs.
The mark of a successful business owner is up-to-the-minute on changing trends and knowing how and when to pivot to take advantage of the circumstance. 2020 will be an unforgettable year in history, and with many business and e-commerce trends continuing over to the new year, 2021 might be just as significant. Take advantage of these trends to grow your e-commerce business this year and let it be a good year for you, for more positive reasons.