ECommerce has been accelerated by the conditions of the pandemic. Amazon is making record profits and only businesses that offer online services and global delivery have a chance to survive.
In 2021, we are expecting to see some changes in the direction of eCommerce, some major and others more minor. For those online businesses that move with these trends, 2021 could be a lucrative year.
Customization is this year’s biggest trend. While customers have been able to tailor items for many years, the number of elements and products that can be customized has exploded. Thanks to 3D printing, manufacturing and fulfillment processes enable quick customizations.
As the cost of 3D printers falls, manufacturers and online stores are optimizing on the opportunity to offer products that answer people’s desire to have products that are individualized.
Premium private label brands
Direct to consumer (D2C) commerce has exploded. Brands are using social media to have direct access to customers and profits, and offer customers lower prices. In the past, this also meant, for consumers, taking a gamble on the quality of products on offer.
However, private label brands are changing, and the quality of products is improving. Premium private label brands are creating a new vertical in the D2C sector. Customers are turning to luxury private label brands for superior products and better shopping experiences, such as free expedited shipping, no questions returns, and individualized packaging.
Shoppable TV isn’t new, but it is coming back. The real housewives on Bravo in the early 2000s would use advertising banners during the show for viewers to SMS and purchase items of clothing and jewelry.
Now NBC has rolled out shoppable TV ads that connect programs to a mobile phone app, enabling viewers to purchase what’s on-screen. There are moves to have this technology adapted directly into smart televisions, meaning people can shop from their couch as they binge-watch TV.
ReCommerce, or second-hand commerce is set to see another revival. As people are increasingly aware of waste and want to upcycle, reuse and refurbish clothing and furniture, the market will grow. Research predicts that the second-hand market will double within the next five years, and second-hand sales of luxury items are expected to be the biggest sellers. Savvy brands are fast creating online stores to the source, sell and ship vintage and used items, often at prices lower than eBay and other auction sites.
Pop-up stores, interactive eCommerce kiosks, and brick-and-mortar stores are moving to the high street in an attempt to reach more people. Even Amazon now has a chain of physical convenience stores.
This trend is expected to continue, especially as people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and people are able to interact again in the physical world.
P2P and rentals
There have been significant growth in P2P (peer-to-peer) platforms that give people the chance to rent rather than buy. Part of the reason for this rise is consciousness about sustainability options, a trend towards minimalism, and lowering incomes as the pandemic starts to put pressure on the global economy. By offering consumers the opportunity to rent clothing, furniture, or electronics, brands can launch a business with strong growth opportunities for further retail sales.
Increased use of autonomous deliveries, smart sensors, blockchain tracking, and digital twinning to increase delivery speeds, efficiencies, and cost savings are predicted to dominate this coming year.
AI customer sourcing
Artificial intelligence is used in eCommerce marketing to make intelligent product recommendations, place your product in the view of your target audience and assist you with customer queries.
Intelligent algorithms analyze current trends compared with your products, sales channels, customers, and buyer behavior to identify the best channels, time, and price to list your products. This automation will improve marketing delivery times, targeting, and efficiency. The work of marketers will be to focus on campaign strategy and management, while automation will take care of scheduling and targeting.
Smart home assistants
Alexa and Google Home have been listening, and they are ready to take over eCommerce.
Only about 20% of smart-speaker owners use them for shopping, such as ordering products, creating shopping lists, conducting research, or tracking deliveries. In the coming four years, this is expected to jump to 52% as people become more reliant on technology, which is also improving as more people use it.
As an eCommerce merchant, this means that your site should be optimized for voice search with plenty of content, written in the same way that your customers would speak or search for your products.
The pandemic is set to continue to impact lives in 2021, with potential new variants causing more lockdowns. For those businesses prepared with online stores and targeted marketing, the rollercoaster that promises to be 2021s global trade and economic uncertainty might be manageable. However, for those businesses that are not yet equipped to face the challenges of eCommerce, the future looks bleak.
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