The pandemic has catapulted the demand for e-commerce -- and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
E-commerce sales jumped by more than 30% in 2020 due to stay-at-home home orders in place, prompting many Americans to shift their shopping experiences exclusively online. What’s more, US e-commerce sales are expected to reach $794.5 billion this year, which’s up 32.4% year-over-year.
Here are some top trends in the e-commerce industry for 2021:
Customers shopping marketplaces versus e-commerce stores
Convenience is king. Consumers increasingly want a one-stop-shop to satisfy all of their buying needs (think Amazon and Etsy) rather than having to browse through multiple online stores. Customers are also on the hunt for two to three-day shipping and free returns on most items. E-commerce entrepreneurs can do this by implementing a low barrier to entry for brands to sell through your platform online and also consider diversifying your brand by listing goods on multiple marketplace platforms or consider creating your own.
Be mindful, however, that the goal is to drive traffic and customers to your main website. One way to do this is by offering limited-edition products that customers can only get at your store.
Sound bite video ads on social media
In the age of Tik-Tok, consumers are inundated with thousands of short videos. One way to command attention is to sell your brand in a sound bite. Think of a content strategy that says precisely what you’re promoting, where and when, and have a video pop up on social media channels, Core DNA.com suggests.
This is a great way to capture a Gen-Z audience of consumers often making buying decisions while scrolling through social media.
Under the influence
Speaking of commanding an audience via social media, e-commerce companies are continuing to rely on influencer marketing to build an audience and showcase products through creative content. Think unboxing videos, lifestyle tutorials of a brand ambassador showcasing how to use or style a product, or testimonials of why it’s so great. Influencer marketing can help to create content and scale, and audience.
Augmented reality in the online shopping experience
Invest in bringing your products or services to life by letting consumers visualize exactly how something can look -- whether it’s clothing, furniture, makeup, or other tangible items -- without stepping foot inside a store. This will also potentially lead to fewer returns. One direct-to-consumer brand that does a good job using AR to help customers see products come to life is furniture retailer Burrow. It features models of 3D couches to users can see if measurements line up with home spaces. Makeup retailer Sephora has also been using AR to help consumers see which beauty products match their specific skin tone.
Lean into trends in home goods and work-life balance
Consumers are spending a lot more time at home during the pandemic -- with remote work capabilities and virtual learning in full swing. This is a major space for disruption in the market, particularly among household items like cleaning supplies such as sanitation products, furniture like desks and office chairs for remote learning, appliances, cookware, storage bins, and organizational products, and more.
Brick-and-mortar retailers are continuing to make e-commerce a priority. TJX Companies, the parent of HomeGoods and TJ Maxx, is launching e-commerce this year via homegoods.com, giving it a competitive advantage to expand its consumer base against rivals such as Burlington, which do not sell online, and to attract a younger consumer.