New E-commerce Trends in 2021

23 June 2021
Sam Pettiford
Sam Pettiford

It’s something of an understatement to say that 2020 was an enlightening year. At first, many of us waited, unfazed, expecting some kind of Hollywood style hail mary to restore normality within a matter of weeks. However, e-commerce innovations aside, there was no happy ending to be had in the unexpected global interruption that was 2020.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can begin to piece together the fragmented puzzle pieces of a tumultuous twelve months. And lo and behold, there is some light between the cracks of the broken mold of modern commerce.

While the rest of the world was learning to host meetings on zoom and make awful tasting bread, the entire landscape of how consumers conduct their business seemed to combust into flames spontaneously.

Although COVID certainly stoked the embers of digital marketing, it was always destined to rise up like the proverbial phoenix. Sometimes our perception of normality is shattered, and while it seems like it came out of nowhere, the truth is that the expansion of e-commerce wasn’t so much a reaction as an inevitability.

In the wake of 2020, companies began planning ways to adapt and excel in the brave new world of e-commerce. Suppose innovation and expansion were the encouraging footnotes to a challenging business year. In that case, learning to follow trends and not oppose them is the opening chapter of your brand’s future success story for 2021 and beyond.

We consider ourselves ecommerce experts and as such, in a position to comment on some of the most critical trends in e-commerce to ensure you’re prepared to be a vital part of this monumental shift.

Young Buyers Dictate the Direction of Business

Like all trends, it’s the hungry and young consumer that’s been the most powerful fuel in the e-commerce tank. Online spending in young demographics has proven that young buyers adapted to the pandemic through e-commerce instantly.

Yes, all age groups have flocked to digital shelves, but your business targets couldn’t be painted more clearly. The future of a fruitful digital shopping experience lies within the collective grasp of young consumers.

Two-thirds of 18-34-year-olds continue to do their shopping online and develop brand loyalty for repeat business visits. So, how do you grab the attention of the millennial money spender and benefit from this?

Through social media, of course.

Social Media Sets Its Place at the E-Commerce Table

Whether you look at social media as the window of opportunity to reel in new business or the bane of your entire existence, the undeniable fact remains that social shopping has arrived, and it’s here to stay and something we always consider during ecommerce web design.

With Facebook and Instagram implementing checkout and buy button options, the role of social media in the success of your business can no longer be overlooked. Some companies are even hiring online influencers to create a better-trusted brand in the eyes of social media shoppers.

Think of digital marketing and social media as the same vital organ in a larger business plan. Integrating an effective social media strategy throughout your business creates a cohesive and more fluid user experience that can breathe new life into your products or help you find users online who are actively searching for your products or services.

Woocommerce Will Wow Your Customers

If social media and digital marketing are the vital organs pumping new life into e-commerce, then platforms like woocommerce are the backbone that keeps it upright and standing tall.

By linking your online store with all of your social media sites, users are guided expertly from being a first-time browser to a returning customer. TikTok, Instagram and Facebook are continually improving their features to create the ideal online shopping experience, and woocommerce has become a vital part of that puzzle for the modern business.

By keeping one step ahead of what consumers really want, you can create the kind of shopping-focused digital marketing approach that not only converts but inspires return visits through brand loyalty.

Don’t think that a WordPress hosting site could host all of your products? Woocommerce can actually contain more than a thousand products, and that’s not its only benefit.

Benefits of Woocommerce

  • Easy to use: you don’t have to be a technical expert to download and install woocommerce.
  • Constantly evolving: woocommerce keeps ahead of online marketing trends, so you’re never left behind when things change.
  • Straightforward Plugins: woocommerce plugins are simple to download and install, adding greater functionality.
  • Cost-effective: woocommerce is a free service, so other than email and registration costs, you’re reaching more people with minimum expenditure.
  • SEO friendly: Woocommerce offers plugins from Yoast to better optimise your content and implement SEO strategies

As always, if you’re looking to make your mark on the digital business landscape and stay on top of the constantly evolving trends, implement the help of a website agency to keep your business at the forefront of your industry.

SEO Has Never Been More Essential

In an increasingly competitive post-covid marketplace, search engine optimisation is a pivotal piece of your digital marketing blueprint.

It doesn’t matter how incredible your products are or how many people are looking for what you offer; the simple truth is that they won’t find you without SEO.

With a little research into the perfect keywords and the volume of people searching for them, you can create content that’ll climb the ranks of the search engine results page to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the world’s most prominent businesses.

CRO Is Becoming A Bigger Player

Much like the aforementioned SEO, Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) has already made its way to the forefront of consideration when discussing an ecommerce platform. In a saturated industry, the requirement for your target audience to find your site through broad search queries AND actually convert when they arrive has never been more of a business objective via an effective user journey than now.

MWB Agency started life a design agency, and as you’ve probably seen, our work is consistently beautiful, but most importantly, it converts. We’ve worked with some huge household brands on many an ecommerce project to create beauty, but more importantly, create online sales.

Mobile Shopping Makes Waves In Marketing

Technology has condensed our entire lives into a powerful tool that sits in our pockets. The new generation of shoppers have never lived in a world without mobile devices and are far more trusting of mobile shopping than their senior counterparts.

The exponential growth of mobile commerce cannot be ignored. Of all the destruction that COVID has caused to the old school business model, mobile shopping could be one of the brightest shining beacons of new opportunity.

The new generation of online browsers may not have the attention span of your average window shopper, but they’re extremely thorough in their online research.

Fortunately, businesses are finally beginning to understand the money to be made from optimising a website for mobile users. Remember, e-commerce is all about the customer journey. So if they encounter any difficulties in their user experience, they’ll simply choose to shop somewhere else.

Accessibility means a flawless buyer journey, which means happy customers who’ll return to your website.

AI Will Personalise the Shopping Experience

It’s a myth that Artificial Intelligence (Or AI) creates a deficit between a business and the personal touch your loyal customers can receive. In fact, it’s quickly becoming the most informative way of delivering the most personalised shopping experience ever and is forms the backbone of the most common ecommerce solution these days.

The way AI collects and analyses a customer’s data means that you’ll gain key insights into what they’re actively searching for. This provides your business with clarity and hard facts regarding how people are shopping, something a physical store cannot match up to.

Artificial Intelligence may one day be the ultimate personalised assistant to each and every online shopper. Content may be edited or altered to coincide with a customer’s emotions or quickly recommend a product or service that can fulfil a consumer need in mere seconds.

Rather than fear the impending AI communications boom, customers are predicted to embrace it with open arms as more and more generations find comfort in the digital world.

Voice-activated Searching

Universally cited as one of the most innovative tools in the e-commerce arsenal, voice search technology is taking its first steps towards making its voice heard on the global commerce stage.

More homes are using smart speakers and using digital voice technology in their everyday lives. And of course, the more households there are with voice-activated devices, the more people will use voice-activated shopping.

It’s safe to say that when Google and Amazon implement voice technology into their businesses, the trend is headed that way.

Implementing SEO strategies will be vital here. Remember, SEO isn’t just about content on the page.

The hybrid of SEO and voice-activated tech will give businesses one of the most exciting possibilities in modern marketing, to not only know what customers are searching for but knowing where future searches are going to be and already having those needs catered to.

Visual Commerce: A Billion Dollar Development

If you feel that an online store lacks a physical relationship between consumers and the product they desire, look no further than visual commerce.

As the daring next step in improving on standard visuals, it relies less on merely posting a product picture on your website, and instead focusing on a more interactive and engaging visual browser experience.

Examples of visual commerce:

  • Up close product visuals using 360-degree views
  • Using consumer made media across social media channels
  • Interactive content with pictures that take you to product pages
  • Image recognition marketing techniques
  • Instore retail technology

Considering how visual the internet is, it’s no surprise that digital visual marketing is starting to be implemented in future thinking businesses.

Besides, with the worldwide global recognition market estimated at a whopping 23.82 Billion dollars (and predicted to grow to 86.32 Billion by 2027!), no business should deny the possibilities of visual commerce.

This leads us to…

Make Way for Augmented Reality

Continuing on from our visual commerce comments, AR has expanded the customer experience beyond what many of us could’ve ever imagined.

Augmented Reality isn’t just about an upgraded and more dimensional shopping journey; it’s about the depth of persuasion in a buyer’s decision, too. Especially in the retail sector, the benefits of AR will allow shoppers to be fully immersed in the product or service they’re considering.

With heightened perceptions and a better understanding of the product a consumer is considering, some of the world’s most cutting-edge brands have begun testing Augmented Reality in their digital marketing, providing the ultimate buyer journey and cementing themselves as thought-leaders by servicing buyers like never before.

Continual Tune-ups on Website Design

As any ecommerce agency with a formidable track record will tell you, It’s not all about the content. The way your business is presented, and the general aesthetic of your website can’t be forgotten. Content strategy, creative content, content distribution, design and the methods you use to showcase your products must work together to facilitate a smooth and flawless client journey that leads to repeat business. There isn’t much place for complex checkout journeys anymore.

Whether you’re after the understated and subtle look or brash and bold branding that makes a statement, choosing to implement just one, if not all, of the three ecommerce web design trends below, can lead to shoppers enjoying the exploration of your beautifully crafted webpage that meets their business goals.

Multidirectional Layouts

With mobile e-commerce statistics showing an insatiable hunger for mobile-friendly designs, many brands have stepped up to the plate and delivered some truly innovative multi-product design layouts.

Users can now navigate products in any direction they please, with grids that can go left to right, up and down and diagonally.

Reinvigorated Navigation Menus

As the navigation menu tends to be the first thing a user explores when visiting a website, it’s only natural to evolve into an attractive beacon for informative and interactive aesthetics.

These new features can leave a lasting impression with online browsers and helps to unify your tone, branding and services all in one easy to navigate hub.

Exciting Animations in Page Transitions

This may not be an essential part of your bigger picture, but engaging animations in page transitions keeps your customers’ attention. More engagement means more minutes spent on your website, and more minutes means more opportunities for conversions.

Missing out on understanding the changing trends of website design can make a once relevant brand seem old and dated within six months.

As always, advancements in technology tend to dictate what the next visually pleasing shopping trend will be. If your website design is looking stale and your business has been left behind in the e-commerce boom, contact an experience website agency to discuss your needs further.

Post-Covid E-Commerce

In the aftermath of the global pandemic, businesses dusted themselves off and adapted to the post-pandemic business world. Those who didn’t, unfortunately, haven’t fared well since.

The necessity of working from home and the halted gears of economic motion created an acceleration in e-commerce that many have now grown accustomed to. Whether a ‘new normal’ has been established remains to be seen, but one thing’s for certain; global retail trade has changed forever.

The statistics below offer a stark look at the post-COVID business world from 2020 and what’s estimated to continue growing exponentially throughout 2021 and beyond.

E-commerce Trends

  • Global e-commerce generated $26.7 trillion in 2020
  • Global mobile shopping is estimated to reach $270 billion by 2025
  • UK January online retail sales grow 74% year on year
  • Cross-border e-commerce grew by 82% in 2020
  • Amazon sales increased to $386.1 billion in 2020

In the aftermath of the global pandemic. We’ve seen how smart thinking and fast-acting SMEs have managed to gain the upper hand against their global competitors. But the goliaths of industry are quick to recover and come back with a vengeance.

In this widening gap, many traditional brick and mortar businesses have fallen by the wayside, with hundreds of thousands of physical stores closing, and more estimated to follow suit.

Evolved Shopper Habits

Modern consumers are socially and economically conscious, and they expect the places they choose to give their business to have environmentally friendly practices. In addition, millennial spending money is proven to be handed over more willingly when given to an eco-friendly business.

The rise in individual responsibility to keep the planet healthy has created a demand for brands to cater to this need. But, of course, with demand comes opportunity.

Young consumers may expect socially aware business practices, but they also love to support an independent business. So while older consumers may be cautious in trying a new brand that they’re not familiar with, millennials have no problem shopping with a new brand.

In fact, smaller businesses are experiencing a surge in new business and customer loyalty after the effects of COVID-19.

Considering shifts in generational shopping habits helps you stay relevant now and predict when and where the next curve in digital marketing trends will occur.

Rise of the chatbot

In the grand scheme of e-commerce, chatbots are still in their infancy. But over the next few years, they’re going to experience a serious growth spurt.

These helpful little computer programs are becoming the unsung hero of human online shopping services. Through customer support, product recommendations and guiding people towards finishing a purchase, chatbots are slowly but surely integrating themselves into the e-commerce lexicon as the ultimate digital shopping assistant in online consumerism.

The Evolution of the Messenger App

If you’re still in the old school mindset of messenger apps only being something people use to talk to their friends and share pictures of dogs, then you’re missing out on some prime consumer real estate.

Young buyers really do trust chatbots and digital marketers know it. Through an app, customer service messages can help deliver the kind of fast and friendly customer service that’s come to be expected in any business.

It’s not just about the customer experience either. Chatbots are predicted to save businesses upwards of 30% in their overall customer service expenditure.

The future of e-commerce rests on businesses discovering these fast, cost-effective methods of user convenience.

If you’re looking into how to build a chatbot for your ecommerce website then let’s look into the two main avenues of chatbot services and what they specialise in.

AI Chatbots

  • Artificial Intelligence Service
  • Able to understand a wide range of customer requests
  • The ability to interpret user language
  • Machine learning capabilities
  • An overall better understanding of customer needs

Rule-based Chatbots

  • Function only on a set of limited rules
  • More restrictive than AI chatbots
  • Able to respond to specific commands
  • Less ability to interpret a user’s language
  • Ideal for simple questions and queries

The dichotomy of impersonal technologies developing a human relationship with customers has cultivated something of an anomaly.

While chatbots are still finding their place in e-commerce, the 24/7 customer service and ability to store consumer preferences make it one of the most effective tools of future marketplace success.

The Continued Rise of the Influencer

If you’re looking to appeal to the secret powerhouses of future e-commerce, then you’d better learn to love social media personalities, because the fall of traditional marketing has seen the rise of the social media influencer.

Leveraging their astonishing social media follower numbers, many brands have looked to influences as their new method of content creation. It’s a fast world, after all, and with the influencer marketing industry estimated to reach dizzying financial heights of $13.8 billion in 2021, this trend will surely continue.

Other Considerations on E-Commerce Trends

Keeping an eye out for future marketing trends is important, but it should never come at the expense of some fundamental truths when it comes to the health and sustainability of your business.

When deciding to adapt your company to the world of e-commerce, remember that trend here does not refer to some flash in the pan fad. Instead, it refers to some simple truths:

Online Growth Isn’t Going to Stop

Online shopping has become routine for many consumers. They expect convenience, a smooth user journey and the ability to buy from a desktop or mobile device. And that convenience is only going to be improved upon, not railed in.

Staying one step ahead of the trends, or following them towards their inevitable growth onto the global commerce stage is just smart business practice, and doesn’t have to come at the expense of your content marketing or product quality.

In fact, embracing online growth and learning which aspects of it will work best for your business is the forward-thinking approach you’ll need to gain new customers and expand your brand reputation.

Follow the Trend. Don’t Oppose It.

It’s understandable to experience trepidation when learning to adjust your entire marketing plan due to large shifts in worldwide marketing methods. Separating which trends are useful for your brand and which aren’t can be a long process, but being prepared for quick changes is what can make all the difference when the chips are down.

Do you remember how cautious people once were about buying products online? How unsafe people said it would be? How long ago was that?

Does it feel like it was just yesterday?

That’s exactly how fast the industry can change at a moment’s notice, and although e-commerce was long predicted to take over traditional shopping in the future, the coronavirus has been the catalyst for that change.

Digital Advertising Is More Competitive than Ever

The race for search engine ranking page supremacy has officially begun. And while both global juggernauts and SMEs rev their respective engines, your business plan needs to be as finely tuned as theirs.

That doesn’t mean simply copying your competitors. It means enlisting the help of an expert website agency to help you implement the best web design and optimised content to keep you visible in the eyes of the people who are actively searching for your products and services.

But Competitive Doesn’t Mean Impossible

A competitive business landscape doesn’t mean you’ll find success by taking a giant left turn and going against the grain. E-commerce trends give businesses the chance to seize the inevitable before it passes them by, allowing them to take advantage of the benefits.

If the last sixteen months have taught businesses anything, it’s to take absolutely nothing for granted. There is no such thing as impossible, but there is such a thing as unexpected shifts in marketing. Some careful planning and observation on where the trend is headed can be the difference between brand strength and going bust.

Using Hindsight to Look Forward

The horizon looks promising for the forward-thinking business. With such a broad spectrum of easy to install advancements and customer-focused upgrades, the map is already there to create a flawless buyer journey. It’s just a matter of connecting the dots.

Take stock of the worldwide fallout of 2020. What lessons did you learn? Would you do things differently if you had the chance again? How are you going to make sure that any mistakes made won’t be repeated?

Take those points and make plans to keep the unforeseen in mind as you move onto the exciting new phase of your business. Every lesson learned in commerce can lead to prosperity if you use it as a barometer for your next steps, whether negatively or positively.

Consumer Convenience: The Ultimate Destination

Global small businesses experienced surprising booms or extreme struggles depending on their adaptability in 2020. The transformation of marketing strategies and plans, while challenging initially, evolved and found innovative ways to rise above the world’s volatility.

Many small to medium enterprises who were prepared for the sudden surge in online shopping found themselves carving out a dedicated number of returning customers. That kind of loyalty can endure if your brand is ready to provide them with the convenience and cutting-edge shopping aides that they’ve become accustomed to.

While your path to achieving brand perfection may have buckled in 2020, the destination has never been more clear, so make your clients feel like giving you repeat business is almost effortless for them.

E-Commerce Trends 2021: Reasons to be Cheerful

It’s easy (and understandable) to lambast the ghost of 2020 and curse its name. However, the rise of e-commerce has unified brands and customers worldwide in a way that was once deemed unfathomable.

Not only have independent businesses prospered, but the older generation has had to learn to better understand digital shopping, and many have now fully embraced online commerce with open arms!

This is no mean feat. A comprehensive digital skillset is essential to modern living, and many demographics of forty years old and above have learned an invaluable part of what will ultimately become the bright new future of commerce.

The Great Digital Divide

Despite these positive changes in marketing and this newly gained overall appreciation and understanding within the consumer/business dynamics, it can’t be denied that there is still a large gap between thriving and failing businesses in the wake of COVID-19.

Not every e-commerce trend is going to be custom made for your specific business, but what those trends represent is a priceless piece of your business puzzle. The modern consumer is smarter, more technologically agile and expects a lot more from the place they choose to do their business.

But riding the wave of these e-commerce trends will lead you to earn the same buyers’ loyalty and brand familiarity.

The digital divide has been established. E-commerce trends are offering you the chance to get across that gap and take advantage of the benefits that’ll be waiting for you on the other side.

In 2021, the open space between the old school brick and mortar business and the new wave of e-commerce has never been more clear.

Which side of this divide are you going to be on?

Check out our other Ecommerce article to learn how to drive sales to your e-commerce site, alternatively contact us to talk about your e-commerce ideas. MWB Agency are a premier bespoke web design agency and specialise in ecommerce website development. If you’ve tried previous agencies in the past with no result, try us and watch your business soar.

Are you unsure of whether a specific trend makes sense for your business or what digital strategy to take? Enlist the help of our full-service digital agency and sister company MWB Digital for a range of digital marketing services. Contact our expert team for help with your ecommerce project.

Photo by Paul Felberbauer on Unsplash

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