As online shopping and selling evolves, it’s important to keep up with what’s popular. But that can be easier said than done when there seems to be something new every day. That's why we spoke with 12 eCommerce experts about the big trends they’re seeing for selling online in 2021.
They covered a wide variety of eCommerce trends ranging from social media to how and where shoppers are using the internet to make purchases these days. So grab your most comfortable "work from home" outfit and check out what they had to say.
eCommerce Trends 2021:
#1. Convenience and Immediacy, by Josh Brooks
#2. TikTok Influencer Marketing On The Rise, by Jonathan Torres
#5. Livestream Shopping, by Stacy DeBroff
#7. A push at finding ways to create a truly immersive digital experience for consumers, by Josh Brown
#9. Social Stores Will Come Closer to Large Marketplaces, by Nathan Sebastian
#10. Expect to see even more flexible installment payment options for customers in 2021, by Jim Pendergast
#11. Video content investment will shoot through the roof, by Jason Parks
Convenience and Immediacy
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that consumer demand for convenience and immediacy is at an all-time high. Amplified by the pandemic, consumers are now looking to online shopping resources to purchase some of the more ‘everyday’ items they would’ve previously visited a physical store to buy.
According to a report by Deloitte’s InSightsIQ, more than 50% of consumers report spending more on convenience to get what they need, with ‘convenience’ being used as a blanket term to cover everything from contactless shopping to on-demand fulfilment and inventory availability.
Due to this, many businesses within the eCommerce sector have already started to adapt and expand their product range, and we predict this will only increase as the year progresses. In addition to this, we imagine that more and more eCommerce sites will offer contactless delivery options, adopting a buy-online-pick-up-in-store function or a courier delivery option at the checkout.
This emerging trend puts eCommerce companies in a unique position to capitalise on the shift in consumer shopping habits, but also leaves them vulnerable to underperforming if they don’t have the resources available to adapt efficiently.
The eCommerce sector is already highly-competitive and saturated, and companies which typically perform well with a more niche product range may lose out on sales as customers increasingly favour a ‘one-stop shop’.
With convenience at the forefront of consumer demand, even the more conservative eCommerce stores will have no other option than to expand their product categories and update their payment and delivery services with contactless options if they are to thrive in 2021.
TikTok Influencer Marketing On The Rise
I’m seeing TikTok influencer marketing rise up to meet its runaway adoption rate. TikTok’s video aspect is extremely appealing to both creators and their followers. That has helped the platform to grow organically, helping authentic, creative, and consistent creators come up as influencers. After experimenting in 2020, TikTok now offers proven ways for brands to develop working relationships with such TikTok influencers.
As an affiliate marketer, I routinely work with TikTok influencers to boost my e-commerce platforms. In my experience, the best way to collaborate is to create value to both of your audiences from the start. That will help you grow a following and have more followers reading your bio. From the link I’ve included in my TikTok bio, curious followers can visit my e-commerce website and land on a lead-capture page.
I’ll usually have a relevant lead magnet, freebie, or low-ticket deal on the landing page. People just have to enter their email addresses to download or access the exclusive content. And that helps grow my email list, where I can do further nurturing or offer promotions to start getting value back immediately. Then always call followers to action. Remind them there is more value to explore in your bio.
eCommerce Boom Increases Online Ad Competition, Raises CPCs for All
The global pandemic has caused an eCommerce boom that is driving up online marketing competition across nearly every industry. Even traditional businesses that never sold online are making the transition. Add to that the fact that businesses who already sold online are doubling down even more. So, what does that mean for online advertisers and eCommerce store owners? Intense competition!
According to data from MorningStar, digital ad budgets are expected to grow by 20% in 2021, signaling a significant uptick from last year where businesses scaled way back due to the pandemic. With more companies loosening their purse strings, we are going to see more competition and higher cost per clicks when it comes to paid search and social campaigns.
In order to compete, it will be essential for marketers to leverage a multi-channel approach. While paid advertising campaigns still need to be an important part of the mix, having a full-fledged digital marketing strategy that includes everything from SEO to content marketing will be critical.
Too often, marketers look at their marketing tactics in silos. If you want to break through the clutter and really get the most from your online ad spend, you need to think of digital marketing as ONE strategy across several channels. That is the only way you're going to stay ahead in the wild, wild West that is the eCommerce industry these days.
Significant Rise in Shoppers Using Amazon For Product Research in 2021
There was once a time when customers would head to the #1 and #2 search engines in the world, Google & YouTube and enter in search terms like: "Best tent for camping" or "Best tools for gardening", research the ideal products and then head to Amazon, usually from affiliate links, to purchase.
Now, customers are heading straight to Amazon to enter those same "best" related search terms. Keyword search volume has increased around these types of queries.
What's more, Amazon itself has begun including research articles known as Editorial Reviews syndicated in the product search results from contributing participants in the On-Site Associates Program.
This trend shows that customers on Amazon are looking to close the loop in product research. Amazon Sellers should begin making adjustments to capture critical visibility when customers are researching products.
So what can sellers do to capitalize on this growing trend?
- First, Amazon Sellers should aggressively seek to partner with Amazon Influencers who are part of the On-Site Associates Program. This will place their products right at the front of the line while customers are doing their research, plus it comes with a top 10 endorsement.
- Secondly, include the words "best" in your product descriptions and A+ Content to target those research-based keywords for Ads and SEO.
With the significant impact of Covid-19 in fast-tracking online shopping growth, the emergence of new and enhanced social media apps and the proven word-of-mouth power that comes from influencers, everyone’s constantly asking: what’s next in-commerce?
The answer: Livestreamed Shopping.
Already generating $135 billion in Chinese eCommerce sales in 2020, social media influencers will bring livestreaming to the U.S., with the ability to host livestreaming shopping already kicked into gear on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Amazon Live, Twitch, YouTube and Etsy.
In 2020, according to Influence Central’s survey of 475 consumers, only 19% of people in the U.S. have turned into a livestream shopping event. This presents a large pool of untapped audiences for brands and influencers to target. According to consumers, 60% found live-demos and product walk-through the biggest draw to livestreamed shopping, with a special deal only available during the live event, a powerful driving factor in their participation.
Out of the consumers who had tried livestream shopping:
- 86% did so on Facebook,
- compared to 30% on Instagram,
- 22% on Amazon Live
- and 12% on YouTube.
While Facebook leads the current faction of livestream shopping early adapters, all platforms still have a chance to get ahead of this new e-commerce trend, but they need to act now.
Influencers can offer up livestreaming’s unique mix of entertainment, behind-the-scenes product information, answering viewers questions and simple click-to-buy options. It is a chance for creators to interact directly with their followers and offer a compelling opportunity to both engage and shop with exclusivity.
Due to the ongoing retail brick and mortar shut down of Covid-19, the ability to make shopping a social activity again versus a solo experience, makes it the ideal time for brands and influencers alike to ramp up livestreamed shopping efforts.
You may find it interesting: 6 Tips on Using Product Reviews to Boost Sales
Major - and long overdue - improvements in web accessibility on eCommerce websites
In 2021, we'd expect to see major - and long overdue - improvements in web accessibility on eCommerce websites. In our thorough research of top 100 British eCommerce websites, we've found that ALL of them reported as "unusable for some".
This means that on every website, there's a group of people with a disability that can't use it at all. This ranges from structure issues which impede screen readers, to contrast levels that don't meet the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) requirements. A lack of accessibility can carry serious legal implications (for example when your business needs to adhere to Americans with Disabilities Act), on top of the obvious social ones.
In the US, there are over 30 million of people with web impairing disabilities, and there are hundreds of millions of people worldwide with vision and hearing disabilities that influence how they consume digital content. The solution to this problem isn't a general one.
Businesses need to individually carry out an accessibility audit on their website to identify issues, but the most common ones that could be easily checked are:
- alternative text (for non-decorative images)
- subtitles and/or transcripts of video content contrast of your website's layout (there are plugins available for most major browsers that help you check it)
- poor wording of hyperlinks (i.e. "click here")
- contact form issues, such as missing labels and no support for keyboard-only navigation.
Online retailers are making more of a push at finding ways to create a truly immersive digital experience for consumers
One trend that we should see more of in the upcoming year is online retailers making more of a push at finding ways to create a truly immersive digital experience for consumers. The reason for this is two-fold: By creating a truly immersive digital experience, online retailers can come closer to replicating the in-store shopping experience.
In turn, this can also help in the overall process of creating a great customer experience (61% of shoppers prefer to make a purchase on sites that offer AR experience and 63% say that AR would improve their shopping experience).
Part of how eCommerce businesses can create such an experience is looking for ways to be visually and audibly engaging at all the various touchpoints of the customer journey. This can be done with both augmented and virtual reality, both of which can be helpful in getting a feeling for how objects will look in their final environment - for example, how a particular piece of clothing or make-up item will look on a consumer or how furniture will look in a particular consumer's room.
To help appeal to a consumer's other senses to create an immersive experience, I think you'll see a trend of finding ways to convey feelings associated with taste, touch, and smell by finding ways to create content (through copy and multimedia) and user-generated content that can elicit specific emotions related to those senses.
This is also where creating a more memorable unboxing experience (another trend to look out for) comes into play as creating a great product presentation starts with packaging and can appeal to visual and tactile senses. (I'm happy to talk more about unboxing if you'd like).
Use of knowledge management to help with capturing, organizing, and storing knowledge pertaining to their customer
Another trend that eCommerce businesses may start to embrace is the use of knowledge management to help with capturing, organizing, and storing knowledge pertaining to their customer.
The reason that I feel that this will be a trend to look out for in 2021 is:
eCommerce businesses continue to see an increase in the use of self-service options such as chat-bots as well as knowledge management solutions as a way to support customers along their journey / help with troubleshooting issues (73% of customers want to solve product or service issues on their own).
To effectively be able to provide a great self-service experience, you need to know what questions are frequently asking (and the solutions that they're looking for) as well as how to structure, tag, and prioritize content. Furthermore, you need a way to do a continuous feedback loop and capture the data from that loop so that you can continue to improve on your self-service offering. Knowledge management allows you to capture and organize this data for analysis.
Knowledge management helps with better customer-targeting as it helps with breaking down organizational silos (enabling marketing, sales, and customer service teams to be on the same page) so that your eCommerce business can make better use of the data that each of these teams collects.
The best eCommerce trend that will develop more in 2021 will be shoppable TV
NBC was one of the first to roll out shoppable TV last year and I believe that it is the way forward. Shoppable TV ads connect certain programs to your mobile apps, giving you - the viewer - the opportunity to buy the item that appears on their screen.
There is also talk that this will be expanding and will be incorporated into smart TVs. I think it will quickly gain popularity simply for the ease of use.
Who doesn't want to take advantage of this? No need to search the item online anymore; it could be yours as easy as pressing a button. It's also a great way for businesses to boost their sales with this form of advertising and if it's on a primetime slot, who knows how many sales can be made in such a short time.
I personally think it's a fantastic way for consumers to shop for on-trend items. It's quick and easy and also convenient for those who have little time to spend browsing the internet. I would be surprised if we didn't see more of this in the next coming weeks, especially while more people are at home due to the pandemic.
Social Stores Will Come Closer to Large Marketplaces
Three of the astonishing stats we found were (source: www.goodfirms.co):
- 75.93% of marketers think that selling directly on social media is helping them to generate more traffic.
- 44.44% of them use shoppable images and videos on the brand's own account.
- 25.93% of them find it useful to connect to influencers and sell via their account. (Recent Instagram updates have enabled brands to do so.)
Social media platforms are acting as mini search engines and helping eCommerce businesses sell directly through social media pages with embedded links.
Businesses should not expect the sales volume to be significant when starting. Currently, shoppable posts on social media act as a great funnel in nurturing an audience to becoming customers. It is definitely another channel for extra sales if not an alternative to standalone sites. In the longer run, shoppable posts are fantastic as customers can complete a purchase in 2-3 clicks, but that only works for very warm traffic.
Shoppable posts can be more useful for very warm traffic. Seamless integration of eCommerce tools wherein social media platforms offer advanced capabilities to sellers will be an upcoming trend.
Instagram has shoppable posts available for business accounts. You must connect your account to a Facebook Marketplace for that. Though both have some tricky requirements and processes, both are already trending. Driven with a combination of influencer marketing, a follower can check price tags, view entire product catalogs, and head to the originating site to make a purchase.
As other social media follow suit, social media will be synonymous to eCommerce in the coming year. Pinterest has product pins (or shoppable pins) which are available to almost all accounts. YouTube has a merchandise shelf; one of the minimum requirements is that your channel has monetization enabled, plus a couple of other guidelines that are relatively easy to meet if you've cleared that hurdle.
Many other platforms have their versions of these types of posts, so it's worth doing a bit of quick research on the requirements so that you can set specific strategies to meet those requirements and begin usBack to The Toping these effective features.
Expect to see even more flexible installment payment options for customers in 2021, serviced by expanding payment processors
We've already noted a multi-year rise in the use of retail "pay later" platforms. Think names from PayPal to Klarna, which allow online shoppers to defer paying for their purchases now by instead setting up monthly prorated payments. Sometimes these carry interest, sometimes they don't if the purchase is paid-back in-full under a certain number of months.
With the growing popularity of buy now, pay later platforms come a greater need for these kinds of payment processors on your e-store's backend. The installment nature at play assumes greater risk to the processor, so you must choose carefully.
To account for that risk, keep an eye out for total processing fees. It's not uncommon to see processors charging two to three times more for a buy-now-pay-later transaction compared to a credit or debit one.However, courting these fees still makes sense when you consider online installment payments tend to generate a higher average order total as well as higher instances of returning customers.
Video content investment will shoot through the roof
An eCommerce trend that will develop throughout 2021 is more investment in video content, specifically on YouTube.
85% of all internet users in the United States watch online video content yet video is underutilized by eCom brands. We've seen our clients increase average time on site by 18% when embedding videos on their product pages.
More brands will film videos of their products. These eCommerce companies will also have experts internally talking about the product. These videos will be embedded on the product pages of the site and on relevant blogs.
By uploading the videos to YouTube, this will also have great SEO value while showcasing more personality on the eCommerce site.
Every eCommerce brand should invest $1,000 - $1,500 in professional video equipment. This includes a camera, tripod, microphone and lighting. With this investment, they'll be set for the foreseeable future.
New Sellers Will Have a Harder Time Getting Product Reviews in 2021
In 2020, over 69% of shoppers said they tend to trust Amazon reviews to make their purchasing decisions (this rises to almost 94% if the review has a Verified Purchase tag). It's the formula everyone knows by now: more reviews means better conversion rates and more sales. Since more shoppers trust reviews with each passing year (and Amazon wants to keep it that way), there's a higher demand among merchants for reviews.
For early sellers, it's hard to get sales without any reviews, and it's impossible to get reviews without sales. In the past several years, this has caused many merchants to turn to third party services to grow their review count – some more legal than others.
Companies like Amazon continue to build stricter policies around how their merchants can get reviews, banning (what many consider to be) innocent practices alongside the more clearly dubious ones. Among Massview's user base, 28% more new users report frustrations with growing their review count, compared to the beginning of the year.
Due to this trend, thousands of merchants are turning to sites like Snagshout (where sellers can still get early sales and reviews without breaking the rules). At Massview, we expect Amazon will continue to implement more changes to punish any form of review trading or purchasing, so merchants will have to be careful to fully understand the rules when trying to increase reviews.
Are you feeling inspired to try out some of these trends with your online businesses? eCommerce continues to be as fast paced as ever, but we hope this article helped catch you up to speed with these popular 2021 trends.
Spotted a cutting-edge eCommerce trend you'd like to share? Feel free to reach out to me.