What are the "trends" for e-commerce in 2021?
Here are some of my thoughts, along with some insights I've gathered from other experts in e-commerce.
I would love to know your thoughts too! What would you add or expand upon?
Cryptocurrency as a payment option
Going forward, it's important to add more payment options for your consumer. We are all aware of the explosion of cryptocurrency and more platforms are accepting it as a viable alternative at checkout. Modernization is key, if you’re pushing a modern product like a robotic lawnmower, for example, you’ve got to keep up with the times. BitCoin payments in particular are something we will look at going forward and can hopefully adapt here in the Irish market.” - JJ Lee, Digital PR, Atkins
Smart payments via SMS, e-mail, apps, QR codes
"Consumers are no longer limited to paying with a card only. There is an increasing number of payment options that offer ease and convenience. What’s more is that they’re smart. With Payment Requests, a merchant can send a payment link to their customer via SMS, email or a chat app, and there are also QR code payments to be considered, which are slowly but surely gaining increased traction." - Preslav Atanasov, SEO Specialist, myPOS
Authentic, user-generated video reviews as social proof
In the hyper-competitive world of e-commerce, user-generated product video reviews are a powerful conversion tool.
"73% more visitors who watch product videos will make a purchase,” according to HubSpot. Additionally, Kaleigh Moore shares that "video is so effective at the point of purchase that many people take their phones into physical stores for this reason. In-store shoppers admit to using video at a rate of 55%."
Shoppers spent 200+ more hours on product pages
The image below shows how product video reviews are displayed on Grill Rescue via Reeview.
"Headless commerce has already proven itself to be the leading development for the consumer market. As the immense success of Amazon has shown us, decoupling the front-end and the back-end yields endless possibilities for the picturesque e-commerce experience. Because there is no front-end, developers have so much more flexibility for personalization. The Amazon Prime like shopping experience is extremely favored in our present-day so the headless commerce architecture will soon dominate the e-commerce market if brands plan to remain relevant in the years to come." - Kevin Miller, Co-Founder & CEO, GR0
"Not only do more people own smart speakers, but they also rely on voice assistants to complete daily tasks. As more homes adopt these speakers, more consumers will utilize voice search to shop online, order food, and organize their lives. This rise of voice search creates an opportunity for e-commerce businesses in terms of keywords and content." - Nicolas, Win in Health
SMS text-based messaging for cart abandonment and other communication
"Oklahoma Smokes addresses cart abandonment with strategically-timed SMS messages. These texts are sent automatically, and then can use a variety of marketing tactics including reminders that discounted items in their carts will return to full price soon, warnings that items in their cart are almost sold out, or timely discount codes to entice them to return to their carts. These retargeting methods inspire shoppers to take the plunge and make their purchase, and they work much better than when we use the same retargeting tactics through email." - Ashwinn Krishnaswamy, Co-Founder, Oklahoma Smokes
"You can set up workflow-based customer journeys, push button ‘recipes’, and automatic customer targeting allow you to quickly and easily build marketing campaigns to specific segments of your audience. The result is more personable, pertinent, and relevant communications that increase sales frequency, individual order value, and customer retention. - Gee Ranasinha, CEO, KEXINO
After the pandemic-led closure of brick and mortar stores across the country, it’s become increasingly clear that the consumer demand for convenience and immediacy has never been stronger. Instead of visiting physical stores like they would have previously, consumers are now turning to online e-commerce alternatives to pick up their ‘everyday’ items." - Cas Paton, Founder & CEO, OnBuy
"Customers will expect more from their vendors' self-service tools, including features such as quick ordering, simple replenishment, and complete control over account management." - Nicolas, Win in Health
Conversational commerce / live chat / personalization
It's no secret that the generation with the biggest purchasing power, Millennials, want personalization when it comes to purchasing. They also want their needs to be attended to promptly and with little fuss. Conversational commerce, which means placing automated voice chats, chat apps, and chatbots means that brands can now attend to customer’s needs much faster and in a more personalized manner while having more time to focus on growing their business." - Nebojsa Calic, Founder, CyberCrew
"People are searching for a more intimate purchasing experience, where they can ask questions and get the answers they want in real time. Live chat provides e-tailers an opportunity to connect with a customer on a personal level, much like a floor rep in a traditional brick and mortar retail shop. Offering a robust live chat function also allows for increased conversions by quickly addressing concerns and questions. It may cost e-commerce companies more for reps to work their chat system, but it is generally a win-win for e-tailers and customers. I expect live chat to continue to be a major trend as we get into 2021." - John Ross Company, CEO, Test Prep Insight
“We are mainly focusing on dynamic pricing for our online store. As a wholesale supplier working with retailers, we realized that we lose out on so much business because of a pricing model that does not suit our customers – other companies. Our goal is to have a pricing model that will offer the best price to each customer that visits our site by factoring in their order quantity, logistics, and continued business relations. - Harriet Chan, Co-Founder & Marketing Director, CocoFinder
Sustainable / green / eco-friendly e-commerce
"Customers are now hyper conscious of where and what they are buying and in turn, how this affects the environment. The feedback has been clear, less packaging, recyclability and eco-friendly (when possible)." - JJ Lee, Digital PR, Atkins
Free shipping and easy returns
"Consumers have become accustomed to free shipping and easy returns, which can be costly for sellers. Retailers will have to take a close look at their selling channels and inventories to see where cuts can be made to offset the costs of logistics in the post-pandemic world." - Tommy Morgan, Sr. Manager, PR, Avalara
"Omnichannel creates a seamless experience for customers regardless of channel or device. Consumers now engage with a company in a brick and mortar store, online or mobile app, by catalog, or via social media. Every piece of the consumer’s experience should be consistent and complementary. People use multiple devices during a single transaction process. Make sure that you are able to listen and respond to these interactions. E-commerce retailers should preserve items in a shopping cart across devices so if you add an item to your mobile shopping cart, it should still be in your shopping cart when you access the site on your desktop too for example. If you recently bought a pair of pants they can recommend a great shirt or sweater to go with it." - Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
"Quality schema is a trending but still underused tactic. Ecommerce schema can be very helpful for ranking many types of sites. For Ecommerce, schema is good because it helps improve click-through rate and user experience in Google Search. You can mark up multiple products on a page with schema using ratings and product data information. It's also important to use schema for category pages, which has the benefit of helping Google understand what the product focus of the page. Adding FAQs with associated FAQ schema is another great way to answer customer questions and add rich content to search engine rank pages." - Michelle Faulds, Owner, SlyFox Web Design & Marketing
Increased pressure from tax authorities
"Increased pressure from tax authorities – 44 states, the District of Columbia, and parts of Alaska all require remote sellers to collect and pay sales tax on remote sales, including e-commerce sales. As more consumers continue to flock to online storefronts to make purchases, many e-commerce retailers are beginning to trigger tax obligations in new states. The combination of expanding remote sales tax laws and increasing e-commerce sales is putting many retailers at increased compliance risk, while also impacting the customer experience if sales tax rates are not accurately calculated at checkout. E-commerce retailers will need to embrace technology to automate sales tax calculations as online sales continue to climb and their tax obligations expand." - Tommy Morgan, Sr. Manager, PR, Avalara
"With the rise of Substack and the “creator economy” now all the buzz, there is this big trend in media shifting towards memberships and creating paid communities. eCommerce has already experienced its rush to subscriptions moment, with services like Amazon Prime and the rise and fall of subscription boxes. But subscription boxes didn’t have real staying power because they were just transactional, and people would simply compare the value of the products in the box to what they would purchase independently. While Amazon’s scale allows them to offer overwhelming incentives to join Prime which are difficult for others to replicate. In the last few years though, we have this growing importance of identifying with a brand’s mission and feeling part of something bigger that goes beyond the monetary value of products. So increasingly, I think we will see the benefits of being part of a brand’s Community bundled together with products to encourage sales or to be products on their own (as some kind of Membership program) This allows sellers of all sizes to participate rather than just the Amazon’s of the world who offer memberships based on transactional value alone. Sellers will just need to be effective at building communities around their products and their brand." - Greg Dickens, Founder, Epilocal
"From my personal experience and our business expertise, the most important thing in relation to e-commerce CX is having an accessible website and an accessible customer service / customer support process and system. This ranges from making sure your web developers and web designers adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG standards) when creating your website and marketing / promotional materials but also having a range of customer service / support channels – e.g. a deaf person might prefer instant messaging to a voice phone support system. I have a personal preference for booking airline flights online rather than over the phone – for example, in Australia, Qantas lets you book flights and even pay for them over social media whereas lots of airlines force people with accessibility requirements to telephone them.
In my particular field of travel – I love traveling, booking restaurants, but even with any product bought through e-commerce you might need to schedule a delivery slot – so many websites use an inaccessible / completely unusable calendar / date picker – I simply can’t use those annoying graphical date pickers and many of them are very difficult to use on a tablet anyway my sighted wife tells me.
20% of the population, which is 1 in 5, are disabled in some way and lots of them use assistive tech to access their computer – if you badly design and code your website / e-commerce shopping cart then you will miss out on customers." - Dale, Travel for All
The unboxing experience / full-brand experience
"One of the most interesting trends I see this year has to do with shipping and packaging. As customer experience grows in importance, consumers increasingly demand a full branded experience, even when it comes to packaging and shipping. The "unboxing experience" that we've seen on Youtube and Instagram is more important than ever, and it can become a competitive advantage." - Ian Sells, CEO & Founder, RebateKey
Influencers as brand partners
"The popularity of influencers as brand partners. More people have been looking up to influencers and base their personal preferences on what a famous influencer recommends. As a result, more e-commerce companies will tie up with these influencers to endorse their products and services. It is a two strategy in one, spreading brand awareness and persuasion of potential customers." - Martin Seeley, CEO, MattressNextDay
Increased / revamped customer service
"One trend that e-commerce will have to adopt in 2021 and forward is increased online customer service. We saw record e-commerce numbers throughout the pandemic, perhaps suggesting that people (especially older generations) that were not inclined to shop online have now moved into doing so. So, if you have relatively inexperienced and in total more customers flocking to your site, you're going to need to revamp your online customer service presence. In any industry, people are going to have questions and need help completing purchases. If you want to make sure this purchase is made through you, you had better have a strong customer service team ready to assist with every query." - Kate MacDonnell, CMO, Coffee Affection
"An interesting trend that we might see is the uptake in personalized gifts. Consumers spent most of the year in lockdown and may have missed birthdays, anniversaries or other important occasions of their loved ones. 2021 will be a good time to compensate for this and order something more personalized to express their love and appreciation. In the last couple months, we’ve already observed a surge in sales for personalized gifts. Consumers are buying from personalized mugs to personalized curtains and so on. Compared to last year, the uplift in sales for personalized gifts is over 40% on our platform." - Sonu, Gati Automata Limited
Integrated social media
"Following the introduction of Instagram Shop and also TikTok’s partnership with UnitedMasters for shoppable TikTok ads, it’s no wonder that we’re headed towards social media filled with easy-to-access shoppable ads and organic images/videos. We believe that there will be even more of a focus on integrating eCommerce into social media platforms as organically as possible, to the point that it will be second-nature." - Amber Reed-Johnson, Content Marketing Assistant, Giraffe Social Media.
"Personalization for social media is something that is surprisingly under the radar for many DTC businesses, but the reality is you have to make it an interactive, personal experience throughout the customer journey- and not just for your famous, influencer customers. An underused opportunity is the unboxing of products on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Rather than focusing on curated, beautiful packaging for your influencer marketers, apply that same care and aesthetic to packaging across the board. More businesses will be catching on to this, as regular users of these platforms continue to create and share content with their immediate social circles. - Andrey Doichev, Founder, Inc and Go.
Instagram shopping - A set of features across Instagram that let people shop your photos and videos no matter where they are in the app.
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