Want to know what the future of eCommerce will look like?

In its first annual report on retail and ecommerce in 2020 and into 2021, Shopify has identified five main trends which are shaping the retail and ecommerce markets and provided practical steps that can be taken to future-proof your business. They may not all be relevant to smaller businesses, but being aware of where industry best-practice is heading is important for all organisations.

This may be the new normal (for online retail).

1. A record year for eCommerce in 2020.

During the first quarter of 2020, during at the height of the pandemic, 10 years of ecommerce growth happened in just 90 days. Customer’s shopping habits as well as their approach to digital changed. This environment provided many opportunities, but also made the market more competitive as more traditional retail giants focussed on their digital strategies. The cost of acquiring new customers through online marketing was driven up.

Many new competitors were not equipped to compete on customer experience, a top differentiator online, giving an edge to those brands who were able to offer an omni-channel experience.

eCommerce sales growth

What can you do to succeed in 2021?

  • Unify your customer and product data
  • Prioritise mobile shopping experiences 

2. Consumer behaviour has changed.

In part due to necessity, consumers bought items rarely purchased online before the pandemic; health and hygiene, and beauty. This change was seen especially in the grocery sector. During the pandemic priorities changed for consumer’s evident in their desire for convenience and immediacy. Whether these shifts will be permanent will be dependent upon how satisfied consumers are with online experiences.

The pandemic has amplified the consumer’s desire for The permanency of these shifts will be determined by how satisfied consumers are with online experiences

What can you do to succeed in 2021?

  • Make it fast and easy to buy from you anywhere
  • Help customers bring your brand to life

3. Fulfilment emerges as competitive differentiator

Today’s brand has a four-pronged fulfilment mandate: fast, free, sustainable, and branded shipping. This may be difficult to implement for most smaller retailers, but streamlining the fulfilment process with an emphasis on speed and sustainability should be possible for most retailers. Providing free shipping may also be offered through the addition of shopping thresholds in the cart.

What can you do to succeed in 2021?

  • Outsource your fulfilment operations to a third-party
  • Automate inventory management
  • Streamline the return process
  • Offer local delivery such as ‘Click and Collect’

4. Marketplace dominance is not to be feared

Around half of all eCommerce sales occur on marketplaces, and for most retailers to be successful they must participate. Users however are not using marketplaces to find a brand, but are looking for a solution. 70% of all Amazon searches do not include a brand name.

Building brand has therefore never been more important or more difficult. The good news is that socially conscious customers are willing to pay a premium for brands with a purpose.

What can you do to succeed in 2021?

In 2021 capitalise on the consumer’s desire to support brands that align with their values by injecting life into your marketplace product pages, personalising experiences, and inviting consumers to co-create products and experiences with you. Utilise an omni-channel approach to promote other products.

5. Customer retention should be top priority

With more businesses shifting to an online presence, the cost of customer acquisitions extremely high, so retaining existing customers is paramount.

To combat rising acquisition costs and advertising uncertainty, brands are experimenting with new channels like voice-powered shopping. They’re also prioritising retention, rewarding and incentivising existing customers to spend more.

What can you do to succeed in 2021?

  • Identify and target your best customers
  • Earn loyalty to boost repeat business
  • Adopt a recurring revenue business model
  • Rank customers by value, treat them differently

Speak to hara to discover how we can help bring your online business to life.

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