As the past year has shown, markets can sometimes change very quickly – and that’s true of online markets as well. E-commerce has seen several important trends swiftly rise, while several other key trends that have been important in the past will continue to influence strategic decisions.
Where does all of this put your online business in 2021? Here’s what we’re seeing, what to expect, and where your company’s strategic efforts may pay off the most. Take a look at the top trends and see what’s happening!
E-Commerce and Online Buying Practices Are More Popular Than Ever
It’s pretty obvious that 2020 was a huge year for ecommerce shopping. With so many brick-and-mortar sites shut down or limited due to pandemic concerns, customers as a whole turned to online shopping to get what they wanted. Businesses quickly followed, creating their own online platforms if necessary, or expanding e-commerce options to keep up with demand. Some industries, like restaurants and hospitality, had to completely rethink how they offered services and what could be delivered.
Estimates show that overall ecommerce growth jumped by 30%, speeding ahead to a point that analysts previously thought it would take around two years to reach. Yes, this had created a lot of new competition for many industries. But it’s also supplied a lot of new potential, with new users navigating the online world and looking for sellers that have what they need. Now is a particularly important time to capitalize on this, before these users already develop loyalty to another site or brand.
More Customers Are Paying Attention to Shipping and Packaging
With the jump in ecommerce also comes an increased interest in online shipping – specifically, in what shipping options customers have. This has become a point of differentiation and high added value as customers grow more picky about how their purchases are shipped and what it costs.
Shopify has a great detailed analysis on this trend, but it is dominated by a few different features that buyers are demanding:
- Two-day shipping: It’s become common enough that customers are starting to expect it, and disappointed when they don’t get it. Shipping that takes longer than a week is beginning to look like a serious detriment.
- Free shipping: It can be difficult for an ecommerce store to offer free shipping, but this is another area where the free version has become so common that it’s an issue when not offered. Look for ways to balance shipping time and shipping costs, and methods to offer free shipping on your most in-demand products.
- Sustainability: More customers are looking at eco-friendlly packaging options as a reason to shop with a company.
The Top Retailers Are Growing Their Market Share
The top ecommerce stores are expected to increase their market share this year, and it’s likely that most of those new customers are going to quickly settle in with one of the big names. The extraordinary buying power of large retail operations allow these stores to offer deals, inventory, and shipping options that often small business cannot offer.
If you’re a smaller ecommerce business in retail, that presents a challenge. 2021, more than ever before, is the year to differentiate your products from all competitors. Create unique offerings with an engaging style that is fully embodied in your online store. Give new visitors something to be excited about, and work on making your sales funnel airtight!
Buying Via Voice Command Continues to Grow
Voice command is an interesting niche right now. Voice assistant devices are becoming common objects around the house, and users are growing more comfortable giving voice commands on these speakers or their phones for a variety of purposes. Some are utilitarian, like asking about the weather. Others are purchases, especially if the voice assistant makes it easy to re-order a product or automatically called a business to place an order.
It’s still uncertain just how big voice command ecommerce will be. But 2021 is a great year to take a look at SEO practices and check if they work well with voice assistants. Very clear, succinct phrasing and very obvious buy options are important. Getting on channels that support direct voice command buying – like Amazon – is also a potential option.
A Growing Number of Users Shift Seamlessly Between Channels
“Omnichannel” was one of the marketing words to remember for 2020, but the effect will be even more pronounced in 2021. Basically, this means that online shoppers are getting very comfortable skipping between channels/platforms as they buy, compared to starting in one channel and sticking with that up through their purchase. That means someone could start out looking at an email, check a business’s Facebook page, visit their site, Google online competitors, and make a purchase using their PayPal account without batting an eye.
An omni-channel approach is necessary for reaching these modern online shoppers. That means excellent interlinking between all content, targeted ads with strong links to landing pages, and including buy options throughout your content, not just on your website. Platforms like Facebook and even chatbots can be used to make sales!
Automated Pricing Software Is a Growing Solution
Ecommerce can make pricing a difficult decision. Do you choose prices based on competitors? Regions? Current market conditions? Perceived value? Business strategists have been working on these questions for a long time, but in 2021 expect a new solution to gain popularity: An app that does it for you. Pricing software can look at all factors and offer dynamic pricing suggestions for specific products, making the choice a lot easier – and a lot faster to change if necessary.
Lead Management is Extending Far Beyond the First Sale
Customer retention is one of the most important strategic goals for 2021, especially after the disruption of 2021. Ecommerce companies are looking for meaningful ways to incorporate more lead management post-sale and keep customers around for their next purchase. Traditional tactics like personalized messages, special discount offers, and loyalty programs are more important than ever. Online stores are also working to remember as much non-sensitive customer info as possible to make a second purchase and shipping choice effortless. Once a customer sticks around for a couple of purchases, they’re far less likely to avoid the store in the future.
If you want to take a new look at your shipping and fulfillment strategy, Sherpack would be happy to help! We offer consultation and targeted fulfillment services so you can provide just the right shipping, packing, and customization options to your online customers.