2021 E-Commerce Trends: What to Watch and How to Thrive

The year 2020 was a big one for e-commerce. The pandemic came along and accelerated the industry by about five years. The ball keeps rolling and shows no signs of slowing down, challenging businesses to stay up to date.

If you’re up for the challenge, this year offers lots of opportunities to thrive. Here are the 2021 Ecommerce trends you’ll want to keep an eye on — and what you can do to make the most of them.

1. Omnichannel Shopping

Omnichannel has been trending for a few years now, and it shows no signs of slowing down. According to Customer Think, businesses with a strong omnichannel strategy stand to retain 89% more customers and bring in 9.5% more revenue, compared to companies with less omnichannel capacity.

With omnichannel, customers enjoy a seamless experience across platforms and devices.
A shopper can:

  1. See a product advertised on social media
  2. See it again in a targeted Google Ad
  3. Navigate to the company’s website and join its email list
  4. Click on a promotional offer in an email
  5. Add it to their online cart and purchase

On the retailer’s side, each touchpoint is another opportunity to engage with the customer. For customers, it’s a matter of the company fitting into their multi-device, hyper-connected lifestyles. Businesses that align with this kind of lifestyle will be the ones to succeed in 2021.

2. Social Commerce

As omnichannel has become more popular, so has social commerce — the practice of advertising and even selling on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.

In mid-2020, eMarketer estimated that social sales would total $23.3 billion by the end of the year, up from $1.4 billion in 2019. In 2021, that number is likely to increase by almost 35%, reaching $31.4 billion by the next new year.

As social commerce becomes more popular, expect two things to happen:

  • More brands will adopt shoppable ads to attract consumers on social media.
  • Social media platforms will feature shopping functions more prominently.

Take Instagram, for example. In the fall of 2020, after just a few months of user testing, the platform added the Shop tab to all users’ home screens permanently. All signs point to this trend continuing to grow and becoming a fixture of e-commerce in the coming year.

3. Automated Analytics

Today’s e-commerce brands need to know how their customers interact with them — not just in a general sense, but as close to the individual level as possible. Segmentation is job number one. Brands and retailers need to be able to focus their marketing dollars where they’ll get the best results.

The good news is that most e-commerce retailers have plenty of data. It’s easier than ever to get detailed information about your website traffic, marketing campaigns, and customer buying patterns. The challenge is to extract the most useful information and use it to target customers effectively.

Some e-commerce companies have in-house analysts and the technical ability to process and interpret large volumes of data. Most won’t —  but automated analytics can fill in the gap.

Automated analytics is the marketing tech to have in 2021. It’s accessible to most e-commerce businesses — no need for a costly team of analysts or any technical skills. You don’t even need expensive software solutions. All you need is an understanding of what you want to know, and a provider to do the data automation.

4. Environmental Consumerism and Sustainability

Shoppers in 2021 are interested in convenience and ease of buying, but they also want to match with brands that share their values. One of the most important values-based shopping trends that you can expect to see more of this year is environmental responsibility and sustainable consumerism.

According to recently published data, 67% of consumers say they would probably switch to a brand that’s more sustainable than the one they’re currently using. More than half of consumers would pay more to shop with a more sustainable brand, with millennial consumers most willing to pay the “conscience premium.”

These consumers aren’t going to back down in 2021, so it’s up to retailers and brands to meet their expectations. That means prioritizing environmental responsibility on multiple levels, including:

  • Less waste from packaging
  • Reduced emissions during production and transportation
  • More energy-efficient manufacturing practices
  • Increased environmental impact transparency

The ideal is a lower environmental impact overall. That takes some time to achieve, but in the meantime, companies can work to decrease their carbon footprints and communicate how they're going about it.

5. Buy Now Pay Later

If you’ve been buying online a lot lately, you may have noticed that more and more retailers are adding the option to buy immediately and break payments up into installments. It’s called Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), and it’s a win-win for consumers and retailers alike.

A $300 purchase could deter many price-conscious buyers, especially those new to a particular e-commerce site. But if they only have to pay $75 up front and another $75 a month for four months, the prospect becomes a lot less scary. This makes it easier for retailers to market higher-ticket items and can increase the average cart value.

In a 2020 Finder survey, more than a third of respondents said they use BNPL to shop. The most popular reasons were:

  • Convenience (44%)
  • More time to pay (41%)
  • Interest-free payments (39%)
  • Affordability (30%)

Adoption of Buy Now Pay Later is growing at about 39% a year, according to Finder, and market share is predicted to double by 2023. As people become more familiar with BNPL, you can expect to see more retailers adopt the option.

Getting Started

In e-commerce in 2021, it’s all about what you know — what channels your customers are on, what social media platforms they prefer, and what encourages them to buy.

Peel Insights gives you that information by automating your business analytics. Instead of paying costly data engineers and analysts to conduct hours of modeling, you get daily segmented reports delivered directly to you. Most importantly, the insights you’ll get are the kind you can apply directly, so you can start to see a difference in your numbers.

Ready to take 2021 by storm? Sign up for your 15-day free trial and start experiencing the power of analytics.