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magento & ecommerce

E-Commerce Trends to Follow in 2021

During the past year, the e-commerce sector has grown rapidly. Higher competition leads to new trends constantly emerging. If you don’t keep up with the times, you’ll inevitably fall behind.

In this article, we’ll list the 10 e-commerce trends of 2021 that you should pay attention to. Most of these trends are versatile and can be implemented in any industry. Read on to find out how to provide the best online shopping experience and overcome competitors this year.

1. Customers Shift Focus to Marketplaces Instead of Individual E-Stores

The leading factor fueling all changes in the modern e-commerce industry is customer convenience. People seek fast and simple ways to shop. Even though more and more brands are opening their own online stores, the majority of consumers don’t want to spend time investigating dozens of different sites. They would rather browse a single marketplace in search of the perfect item. Think of it as an individual store in a city center versus a shopping mall. If you need a specific item from a specific brand, you’d have no problem going to an individual store. However, if you’re searching for new shoes in general, you’d likely go to a mall.

For this reason, companies like Amazon and ASOS continue to gain popularity. They gather plenty of different brands under one domain, offering a convenient interface and, most importantly, the ability to easily compare offerings.

But how do you take advantage of this trend if you already own an individual brand? View marketplaces as another sales channel. They can bring you a massive new wave of traffic and loyal customers. When listing your products on marketplaces, don’t forget to keep improving your own site. If you offer customers something that marketplaces don’t – exclusive promos, for instance – they might purchase directly from you next time.

2. The Rise of D2C Model

Typically, e-stores operate following the business-to-customer (B2C) model. But amid global changes, consumers have started purchasing more essentials online. These include food, vehicle and digital device parts, furniture, cleaning, and hygiene products. The Direct to Consumer (D2C) business model is based on delivering goods to the consumer right out of the factory, skipping the distributors and retailers.

By cutting out the middleman, businesses can save on the supply chain and operating costs and offer more appealing prices. Furthermore, manufacturers gain full control over their product reputation and activities. While new D2C companies often struggle with the delivery process, implementing such a model also means having all supply chain processes in your own hands. No disruptions in operations of retail outlets or logistic services affect D2C businesses.

If you’re a manufacturer, strive to improve your product availability to the end consumer. Start by creating a catalog and making contacting you directly easy.

3. Self-Service Is the New Customer Service

Traditional customer services that can be reached via phone or e-mail are giving way to self-service. Consumers don’t like waiting for a response and prefer to solve minor issues themselves. According to Microsoft’s report, 77% of consumers have used a self-service support portal at least once. IBM report 70% of consumers preferring messaging to customer support over calling. Finally, over 90% of organizations consider self-service a worthy investment, and you should too.

The ways to implement self-service in e-commerce include chatbots and detailed FAQ pages. Utilize advanced artificial intelligence technologies to teach your chatbots to communicate like real people rather than repeat FAQ page content.

4. Shoppable Video Ads

Social media is one of the largest traffic sources for e-commerce businesses. While some companies still don’t take advantage of shoppable links on images on Instagram, shoppable video links are already taking over. Younger generations, commonly called Zoomers and Gen-Z, spend hours browsing TikTok and Instagram reels. If your target audience is aged under 30, following this trend is not an option but a necessity.

You can take advantage by developing your brand’s social channels or by partnering up with influencers. Film unpacking videos, ways to use your product, reviews, or funny reels – anything that draws attention.

5. Influencers Becoming Brand Ambassadors

Social media usage is constantly growing, so it’s no wonder a marketer’s attention is shifting towards social channels. In 2019, the share of US marketers using influencer marketing amounted to 55%. In 2021, it grew to 67.9%. Analytics forecast this figure to exceed 72% by 2022. Many brands struggle to create engaging and interesting content on their own. Beautiful pictures without context don’t work today. Influencers, on the other hand, bring personality to the brand’s marketing efforts and boost consumer engagement. They are trusted by the public and can effectively drive sales. The core objective here is not to make the promotion too obvious. This may undermine not only your credibility but also the bloggers.

Influencers Becoming Brand Ambassadors

To use this trend for improving your sales, research which influencers your target audience follows the most. Upon contacting them, don’t hesitate to request their profile analytics such as overall engagement rate, number of saves, organic audience, and previous promotions results. Finally, give the influencer the freedom to tailor the promotion to their personal style. That’s the very reason their audience follows them.

6. Go Green

Sustainability isn’t a new trend and looks like it’s here to stay. According to IBM’s 2020 research, 57% of consumers are willing to change their shopping behaviors to reduce the negative environmental impact. Sustainability transforms from a unique feature of select brands to a generally adopted practice. Even enterprise-level companies such as Amazon and H&M have shifted their focus to environmentally-friendly production, supply chain, and recycling. Despite a common misconception, sustainability isn’t solely environmental. It also involves societal and economical factors.

Product sustainability comprises many aspects and a complete lack of environmental impact is hard to achieve. However, you can start by taking small steps. Analyze the traceability and manufacturing processes of your current offerings, choose recyclable packaging, and focus on the product’s lifespan. Poor quality and low prices of products lead to more frequent shopping and more waste.

7. Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel marketing is a way of integration and cooperation between different brand channels, such as social media, e-store, offline store, and customer service. Modern customers are seeking seamless navigation between all brand channels and efficient communication. For this reason, omnichannel marketing is becoming a norm rather than a bonus.

Let’s imagine you launch a Facebook ad. It attracts potential customers but there is no direct link to your store on the ad. A customer visits your general Facebook page to find the link but it’s not there either. They have to Google your brand name to find the website. Then, they finally find your product but there’s no description, so they have to contact customer service. However, there’s no contact form on your website, so they have to copy your e-mail and navigate to Gmail to contact you. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? In fact, most customers wouldn’t even get to the second step. That’s an example of failed omnichannel customer experience.

Omnichannel Marketing

In a good omnichannel experience, the customer should follow a quick and obvious path from seeing an ad to making the purchase. If you add a direct link to your e-store to the ad image and a detailed product description, the whole process will take much less time. Adding a contact form to your site in this case is beneficial both for you and the customer. For instance, you can make certain fields mandatory to save time on waiting for the customer to provide the required info.

That’s only a brief example of omnichannel customer experience. In practice, this trend is more complex and requires extensive analytics. Invest in UI and UX and A/B testing to replicate common user paths and tailor your channels to the results.

8. Personalized Approach

Customers prefer their shopping experience to meet their personal needs. While this is hard to implement with offline shopping, with e-commerce, modern technology capabilities make it easier than ever. From thoughtful customer service representatives to personalized ads, everything should indicate that you truly care about your customer. A good example of a personalized approach is Enfamil, a brand selling baby products. When new users sign up, the site requests is the baby’s due date to offer relevant products and issue recommendations.

9. Alternative Payment Methods

Recent Statista research has shown that over 41% of online purchases were made using digital wallets. Consumers prefer this payment method to traditional card payments due to time efficiency and better data encryption. Another payment method gaining popularity is buy now, pay later, offered by services such as Klarna and Afterpay.

Despite a growing interest in alternative payment methods, only 72.5% of businesses offer PayPal payments option, 15.4% Amazon pay, and 11.7% Apple Pay. Lack of payment options is a leading reason for shopping cart abandonments. If you don’t want to lose customers at the final stage of shopping, invest in implementing alternative payment options.

10. Product Visualization in Augmented Reality

Augmented reality technology erases the border between online and offline shopping, helping customers to better visualize the product. It’s especially relevant for the interior design, beauty, and fashion industries. People can see how their home would look with specific furniture or how they would look with different colored hair. Statistics show that 71% of consumers think they would shop online more often if they could use AR. At the same time, less than 50% of businesses are ready to implement the technology, and only 1% are already using it. Could you be among the pioneers?

Be a Pioneer

The world is constantly changing, and so is e-commerce. It’s hard to keep up with consumer behavior and preference swings, but now you should have an idea of which path to follow. Our mission is to collaborate with your team to bring new ideas to life. By investing in modern e-commerce trends, you can gain an advantage in the market and bring utmost satisfaction to the customer.

By interactivated • on September 30, 2021

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