E-commerce trends to watch in 2021

The pandemic has catapulted the demand for e-commerce — and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

E-commerce sales jumped by more than 30% in 2020 due to stay-at-home home orders in place, prompting many Americans to shift their shopping experiences exclusively online. What’s more, US e-commerce sales are expected to reach $794.5 billion this year, which is up 32.4% year-over-year. 

Here are some top trends in the e-commerce industry for 2021:

Customers shopping marketplaces versus e-commerce stores 

Convenience is king. Consumers increasingly want a one-stop shop to satisfy all of their buying needs (think Amazon and Etsy) rather than having to browse through multiple online stores. Customers are also on the hunt for two to three-day shipping and free returns on most items. E-commerce entrepreneurs can do this by implementing a low barrier to entry for brands to sell through their platform online and also consider diversifying their brand by listing goods on multiple marketplace platforms or creating their own.

Be mindful, however, that the goal is to drive traffic and customers to your main website. One way to do this is by offering limited-edition products that customers can only get at your store.

Soundbite video ads on social media 

In the age of TikTok, consumers are inundated with thousands of short videos. One way to command attention is to sell your brand in a sound bite. Think of a content strategy that says precisely what you’re promoting, where, and when, and have a video pop up on social media channels, CoreDNA.com, suggests. 

This is a great way to capture a Gen-Z audience of consumers who often make buying decisions while scrolling through social media.

Under the influence 

Speaking of commanding an audience via social media, e-commerce companies are continuing to rely on influencer marketing to build an audience and showcase products through creative content. Think unboxing videos, lifestyle tutorials of a brand ambassador showcasing how to use or style a product, or testimonials of why it’s so great. Influencer marketing can help create content scale and audience.

Augmented reality in the online shopping experience 

Invest in bringing your products or services to life by letting consumers visualize exactly how something can look — whether it’s clothing, furniture, makeup, or other tangible items — without stepping foot inside a store. This will also potentially lead to fewer returns. One direct-to-consumer brand that does a good job using AR to help customers see products come to life is furniture retailer Burrow. It features models of 3D couches so users can see if measurements line up with home spaces. Makeup retailer Sephora has also been using AR to help consumers see which beauty products match their specific skin tone.

Lean into trends in home goods and work-life balance 

Consumers are spending a lot more time at home during the pandemic — with remote work capabilities and virtual learning in full swing. This is a major space for disruption in the market, particularly among household items like cleaning supplies and sanitation products, furniture like desks and office chairs for remote learning, appliances, cookware, storage bins, organizational products, and more.

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