5 e-commerce trends I expect to see in 2021

Not much went to plan in 2020. Much like the rest of the world, my team threw out the rule book and we improvised. But for us in e-commerce, it wasn’t all bad. As people went into lockdown, they turned to online shops out of necessity and the New Consumer was born. The results were phenomenal – e-commerce saw ten years’ worth of growth in just a few months! And if you ask me, it’s fair to expect this trend to continue into 2021. But what will that mean for the industry? I want to share my predictions for e-commerce trends in 2021.

Here’s a quick summary for the speed readers:

I predict that brands will start to really focus on the experience that they’re delivering. Are they creating good relationships with customers or sending them to a dead-end? They’ll become more keen to keep hold of the customers they have, and will turn their attention to retention rather than acquisition. Brands will want to create two-way engagement with their customers, really focusing on the individual. I think we’ll also see brands becoming more receptive to customer demands about sustainability and other rising issues, too. Read on for more detail.

While PC-based shopping will make a comeback, voice assistants will dwindle 

While Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home have been designed to make consumer shopping easier (think, “Alexa, buy me some toilet paper”), shoppers are still highly visual when it comes to making a purchase. We want to see the product, read the reviews and compare the cost before adding an item to the checkout. So, I predict that while customers may experiment with voice assistants, it will not transform e-commerce as we know it. However, with many people expecting to continue working remotely until mid 2021 (at least…), I do think there will be an increase in PC-based shopping, with fewer people will be using mobiles on-the-go.

Retailers will experiment with sustainable delivery options 

Customers no longer just look for sustainable products and packaging. Environmental concern now extends to how the order is delivered. And, while some brands are already offsetting the carbon footprint caused by their shipping, we predict that some retailers will take this further. Furthermore, the trend towards electric vehicles, or indeed bicycle delivery, is set to increase as brands take on board the concern of their customers.  But will this e-commerce trend last? Only time will tell! But sustainability can have a significant impact on business.

I predict small and mighty wins for small businesses

While global brands like Amazon still seem to dominate in e-commerce, consumers will increasingly elect to shop from smaller, independent brands. In a bid to support local business, customers will seek out small brands that align with their values. Smaller merchants that can build meaningful relationships directly with customers, through personalization and communication, will reap the rewards.

Personalization will be key

When lockdown restrictions lift and shoppers head back to brick-and-mortar stores, online shops may have to try harder to win business. The market is already crowded, so brands will have to differentiate to win repeat custom. To do this, they’ll need to provide a seamless and positive digital shopping experience. To prepare, brands should first review the customer journey they deliver and then add personalized, delightful touch points that add value. Plus, if you do it right, these informative emails can double as a marketing tool, with all traffic getting sent back to your online store – result!

Customer retention > customer acquisition 

As many brick-and-mortar stores will continue to experience restrictions, in-store sales is likely to remain unstable for some time. It’s likely that more brands will prioritize e-commerce and Direct-to-Consumer models moving forward. Retailers will focus on providing a positive online shopping experience. Consistent communication will help them to impress their customers and win loyalty. However, out-of-the-box emails will not suffice. Increasingly, customers will expect personalized, branded and accurate messaging for every order.

What e-commerce trends do you predict?

In summary, I predict that customer experience will become a battleground amongst brands. I think that personalization, customer loyalty incentives and corporate social responsibility will be the tools a lot of retailers will use to differentiate themselves in 2021. The good news is that parcelLab can give you a head start in delivering outstanding customer experiences. Take a look at some great Operations Experience communications from our customers, or contact us to find out more.

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About the Author: Julian
Julian is a founder and CTO of parcelLab. He built our product from the ground up, and he works hard to make it better every day. When he’s not taking care of our customers, you can find him riding his bike around Munich, walking his dog Willow, or enjoying a nice hot espresso.