There is no denying that ecommerce has revolutionised the world of retail. It has adapted to the shifting needs of people and has made digital shopping far easier to do for today’s modern customers.

When it was first introduced around the early 90s, ecommerce was only limited to basic online retail transactions. Around 20+ years later and the industry has already made trillions of dollars in international sales.

Today, ecommerce is known for its much-improved return policies, integration, and customisation. All these features continue to change the ecommerce world and will further transform it this year.

To take your game to the next level in 2021, you need to be aware of the emerging trends in the ecommerce industry.

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Here are the top 8 trends in ecommerce that you should look out for.

1. Digital Sales Continue to Grow

Sales in the ecommerce sector have been increasing lately and for good reason. Shopping digitally is now one of the most popular activities to do online.

According to eMarketer, they are projecting that ecommerce sales globally are going to reach almost $5 trillion this year. Additionally, online sales are expected to hit more than $6 trillion, which is twice that of the total ecommerce sales in 2019.

Although online shopping has been one of the most popular activities to do online recently, its usage depends on the region. With the growing popularity of online retailers, a rising number of individuals are leaning towards digital shopping nowadays.

Several factors can be attributed to this increase in digital shopping. One of the primary ones is because of the level of comfort that it gives to both online shoppers and the shops themselves.

This also leads to an increase in trust especially because online buyers are now getting a better website experience when they shop online. Not too long ago, many people were still hesitant in purchasing online due to a lack of trust. With the advent of more customer-friendly ecommerce sites and improved security, this is no longer the case today.

Having provided people with all of the comforts they need, and especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is no surprise that online store sales will continue to grow in the months to come.

2. Ecommerce Penetration Rates Expected to Increase to 25% by 2025

It cannot be denied that COVID-19 has been one of the biggest factors to have changed ecommerce trends over the last year or so. With governments around the world shutting down shops and implementing lockdowns that restrict movement to fight the coronavirus, more and more individuals are heading online to buy products.

Perhaps the most well-known figure in ecommerce, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, has seen his wealth grow to about $24 billion due to increased demand for products and services on his platform.

Experts believe that the impact that COVID-19 has had, is not just a short-term improvement towards ecommerce but is one that will stay even past the pandemic. The reason is that people have already grown comfortable with contactless payments. This is likely to result in a permanent behavioural shift for customers towards purchasing online.

Market analysts go as far as to claim that the ecommerce industry is going to be the largest beneficiary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sitting currently at 15%, they believe that penetration rates are going to rise to 25% by the year 2025. This statistic marks a significant 67% growth in just five years.

However, the positive impact that coronavirus has on ecommerce also means a heavy loss for the brick-and-mortar stores. Approximately 100,000 are expected to shut down in the coming years.

With these estimated closures, ecommerce seems to be the next best thing when it comes to purchasing goods today.

3. Shopping Via Mobile Is Growing (Still)

Another particularly noteworthy ecommerce trend is the growth of mobile use in the industry. Last year, the total online retail sales that were made using mobile devices came close to $3 trillion. According to a report, this figure is projected to grow by 18.8% this year and reaching as high as $3.79 trillion by 2022. Enhancing the user experience for mobile ecommerce is a major opportunity that marketers and businesses should tap into.

The growth of ecommerce has been, in part, due to the growth of people using mobile devices. This is because consumers today are not just buying online, but they are also using their gadgets to research and browse items before deciding to buy. With the trust in online shopping continuing to increase, more and more consumers will feel comfortable buying with their mobile devices. This is especially true with Gen Z and Millennial consumers who have grown used to having computers and the internet around.

These two generations will likely shop more online with their gadgets compared to the older generations. As more and more websites are now being optimised for mobile use, it is best to ensure that yours remains up-to-date as well. By ensuring your site is responsive and offers an excellent mobile experience, you are making ecommerce more straightforward and accessible to a growing audience.

4. Young Consumers Will Transform the Business Landscape

It cannot be denied that the pandemic has had an effect on ecommerce and it continues to do so today. About 54% of consumers were found to have increased their spending due to shopping online ever since coronavirus started circulating. Yet despite this change to online shopping being seen across all ages of consumers, it is highly evident among the younger generations.

According to a survey, two out of three young consumers that are aged 18 to 34 years old spend more money buying things online now compared to how it was before the pandemic. For the older age groups, their growth is a bit muted. Consumers around the age of 35 to 54 years old were found to increase their online shopping expenses by 57%, while those aged 55 and above had a 41% increase. With that said, ecommerce marketers should start targeting the younger generations more because of the higher potential to snag sales moving forward.

To do this, you should consider increasing your marketing efforts via social media platforms. Since more than half of the young consumers today are discovering many products through social media, it’s a smart move to tap into this channel as well.

5. The Changing Role of Social Media in Ecommerce

As one of the ecommerce trends 2021, experts have found that the number of social shoppers is starting to grow as well. With the introduction of features like Instagram Checkout and the “Buy” Facebook button, social media is beginning to take on a bigger role in the ecommerce world.

Social media has affected our lives in numerous ways, including how we buy products and services. For an ecommerce brand, this is an excellent opportunity to begin thinking of how you can enhance your position using social media channels.

With a vast number of consumers spending a lot of time on social media, ecommerce companies can link up with influential social media figures to improve their chances of being found by their target audience.

Furthermore, platforms such as Shopify allow businesses to easily connect their online shops with social media channels. This capability allows users to purchase directly using their social media accounts.

A couple of examples are Facebook and Instagram, both of which are regularly updating their ecommerce features to meet the needs of online purchasers.

The video-sharing app TikTok has also started adding ecommerce aspects to its platform. One of its newest efforts includes allowing users to attach shoppable links by way of their videos or profiles.

These social media channels can act as a means for inspiration while allowing brands the opportunity to be found as people browse their feeds.

With social media continuing to become a part of everyday life, the power it has in influencing ecommerce trends will only get higher. That is why ecommerce brands should start adopting a shopping approach that incorporates social media tactics.

6. Buyers are Leaning Towards Purchasing from Independent Businesses

Besides experiencing a surge in consumers purchasing online, the ecommerce industry is also seeing changes in terms of brand preferences and shopping habits. With the focus on environmental practices and sustainability being a priority nowadays, a growing number of consumers are leaning more towards buying from independent brands. In fact, more than half of them are willing to buy from new companies even for the first time.

The coronavirus pandemic is surely one of the main drivers for this increase in support. This is especially true since COVID-19 has affected many small businesses, spurring a lot of sympathy and support for them from the public.

The fact that more than a third of consumers today are choosing to buy from independent businesses compared to how it was pre-COVID-19 goes to show the change in the ecommerce sector. Other top reasons why people are leaning more towards purchasing from independent brands are to support entrepreneurship, being interested in unique products, and wanting to experience better customer service.

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7. Augmented Reality is Changing How We Shop

Next year, more than 120,000 are projected to start using augmented reality (AR) technologies that provide customers with a much richer purchasing experience.

The uptake of AR in the ecommerce industry is going to be driven by online shoppers as well as the retail workforce. A major concern that individuals have when choosing to buy online is the inability to be able to view the product in person. With AR, this technology can help bridge the gap and allow online buyers to get a better visualisation of the products that they wish to purchase.

This can be a big game-changer for digital customers. Experiences done through augmented reality can change how online buyers look at products that they are intending to purchase.

Using AR, consumers can have a better understanding of their needs and see if the products they plan to buy meets their specific demands.

A growing number of ecommerce brands have already begun experimenting with augmented reality, which can help them stand out from their competitors if they succeed. After all, providing more personalised experiences to buyers can result in better online shopping.

But brands are not only using AR as a way to improve customer experiences, they also want to let shoppers have the ability to explore their products in a way similar to an in-person buying experience.

8. The Future of Ecommerce is Personalisation

According to a report by Bazaarvoice, more than half of shoppers today are seeking personalised online experiences. On top of that, more than 70% of marketers think that personalisation has a significant impact on moving the customer funnel forward.

The statistics alone are clear: personalising online shopping experiences is the key to keeping your customers happy. People who shop online need as much help as they can get to find the product they are looking for. These personalised experiences are highly valued.

If poor product recommendations constantly happen, people can easily avoid going to certain online stores altogether. The good news is that many ecommerce marketers are aboard this trend. They have started investing in personalisation strategies that can make the online shopping experience even better.

Some of the things that may be included are personalisation of messages via email or by supplying relevant data to the interested consumers. When you can offer personalised customer communications, interact with customers through engaging content and offer specific products and discounts, you can add to a better shopping experience while improving the relationship you have with your customers.

Conclusion

The year 2020 was a very challenging time for all of us. Not only has it affected our wellbeing, but it also impacted the livelihood of many. The good news is that there are trends to watch in the ecommerce space, that marketers can make use of for huge returns. By keeping up to date on the latest ecommerce trends, you can stay one step ahead of your competition.

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