A lot happened in 2020 that’s for sure. It was a record year for the ecommerce industry with a total market growth of +22%.

The ecommerce industry benefited from a boom because lots of consumers were forced into purchasing their goods from online stores as coronavirus restrictions forced brick and mortar outlets to close across the globe. The huge shift from offline to online accelerated innovation and gave birth to new ecommerce trends that are expected to grow further this year.

This article is going to give a brief overview of the most exciting ecommerce trends of 2021. After reading about them, you’ll understand why some experts suggest that the ecommerce industry is likely to continue seeing huge growth in 2021.

Shopping while you watch TV

the tennis player Djokovic during a match with a scannable TV QR code present on screen
Image Credit: NBCUniversal

Do you often see something an actor is wearing and want it? Well, smart TVs will be able to link up to ecommerce channels so you can purchase items that you see on your TV screen.

This is not a new idea. Advertisers have been thinking of ways to make their adverts interactive for some time now. However, 2021 could be the year we see it come into fruition thanks to growing consumer demand and advances in technology. Parks Associates found that 26% of US broadband users find the idea of purchasing items seen on TV ‘appealing’.

NBCU has been trialing shoppable TV since May 2019 and LG Electronics is working with an advertising agency to integrate shoppable video ad software into their smart TVs. It’s likey that this trend will first become active in advertisements but there’s no reason why it couldn’t also extend to TV shows, movies, and sports matches as well.

ReCommerce – selling pre-loved items

Image Credit: Depop

You might be thinking, hasn’t eBay already done this? You’d be right, however, in 2021 there will be a shift to sales of luxury second-hand items. This is down to consumers having more desire for sustainable and environmentally friendly items.

This trend is being pushed forward by the younger generation. Gen Z shoppers visit re-commerce online stores the most and 73% of millennial consumers say that they would prefer to buy from sustainable brands.

Some brands that are leading the way include Depop, ThredUp, The Real Real, and Thrift+. You can expect others to follow in their footsteps and for this trend to extend beyond the online fashion industry.

Futuristic fulfillment

geralt / Pixabay

Thanks to Jeff Bezos and the highly efficient logistics of Amazon, next day delivery is now expected by online shoppers. Amazon, and other ecommerce businesses that are trying to keep up with them, are innovating current methods to stick to the one-day promise, even with an increased number of deliveries. In fact, they are improving their services to speed up delivery times to a point where one-hour deliveries might be the new norm in the future. Here’s what to expect within the ecommerce fulfillment and delivery sector in 2021:

One-hour deliveries – Amazon Prime Now, Costco Instacart, FedEx, and DPD already offer one/two-hour deliveries in selected areas. Additionally, all of them are promising to expand instant delivery service areas.

Autonomous deliveries – Autonomous goods vehicles (AVGs) and drones will be used for last-mile deliveries. This will help create more flexible delivery times for buyers with busy schedules.

Warehouses run by robots – Amazon, XPO, DHL, and many more logistics companies are using autonomous robots to cut costs and improve efficiency to meet the increased demand for online shopping deliveries.

Blockchain tracking & cryptocurrency – During 2021 you will notice more online stores accepting cryptocurrency as payment for goods. Additionally, the blockchain technology associated with cryptocurrency is also being adopted in supply chains to reduce administrative tasks and improve tracking services.

Smart speaker shopping

Around 40% of smart speaker owners use their devices for shopping-related activities. This might be ordering products, tracking deliveries, or creating shopping lists. At the moment this equates to $2 billion in sales annually which is predicted to reach up to $40 billion by 2022.

Voice shoppers can already use Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana to buy goods online and much more. Industry experts seem to agree on the fact that this area of ecommerce will boom in 2021 and the following years. So, ecommerce businesses that optimize for voice shopping can tap into an explosive area of the market. It’s a relatively new and untapped channel that will be very lucrative for some.

Buying products on messaging platforms

Image Credit: about.fb.com

You might have thought that messaging platforms were guarded spaces, protected for the sole purpose of keeping in touch with our friends and family. Well, in 2021 you can think again. Messaging platforms are transforming into online shopping platforms.

Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Viber, and Shopify Ping all have big plans to blur the lines of messaging and shopping to give you even more ways to buy products. The platforms will use AI to present its users with recommended items based on your chats with other users. Each platform will have its own take on how to present this type of feature. However, you can expect an ecommerce button next to the emojis and GIFs button at some point this year.

Consumer data will fuel a hyper-personalized buyer journey’s

Image Credit: business.instagram.com

The Social Delima Netflix documentary was a big hit in 2020 and made a lot of people more aware of how their data is being used. In 2021, how ecommerce businesses use customer data to personalize the buyer’s journey will be a big trend.

The biggest and newest personalization trends in 2021 will be:

Personalized websites – use real-time data to show content relevant to the individual user. The data used will be things like your IP address, whether you are a first-time visitor and your browsing behavior from your last session. Therefore the website will be able to show you things that you are likely to be looking for. This has the potential to speed up the buyer’s journey by making it easier for visitors to find what they need.

Proximity marketing – involves using technology to serve consumers with advertisements based on where they are geographically. So, if you’re walking around town this year with your near-field communication (NFC) enabled on your smartphone, you might see ads or receive instant coupons for nearby products.

Fitness tracker data – has the potential to give marketers extremely intimate data on a customer’s behaviors. For example, it registers heart rate, stress levels, movement, modes of activity, age, weight, gender, calories burnt, and so on. This level of data has the potential to help brands and customers develop a deeper relationship with real-time offers for products that buyers care about. For example, after a long run, you might be served ads or discount codes for compression socks or glycogen gels to help you recover. Useful, right?

Product recommendation engines – have already become a bigger part of our lives early this year with Instagram adding a ‘Shop’ button to their platform. Which is basically an ecommerce version of their explore feature. However, Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook have had this kind of feature enabled for some time and it’s something we will see more of this year because of its marketing power. Product recommendation engines use large amounts of consumer data and advanced filtering methods to show customers products, services, or content that they are likely to enjoy but that they didn’t know existed.

Final thoughts

It’s looking like it will be another big year for ecommerce thanks to the advanced innovation within the industry.

From the buyer’s perspective, it looks like these ecommerce trends are going to provide a more personalized buyer’s journey and even faster delivery times than we currently have. It also seems like our favorite apps and devices are going to be used to try and sell us more stuff through product recommendation engines and shoppable ads.

The benefit is that buyers will have to spend less time looking for what they need as algorithms use data to learn what they want before they even know it. However, the downside, of course, is the issue of data privacy and security. Is the use of our data truly creating a symbiotic relationship between consumers and brands where we find things we genuinely want faster? Or, are these algorithms benefitting brands more by tempting and exposing us to products we would never normally consider?

From an ecommerce business owner’s perspective, there are several new tools to improve the customer’s experience when they interact with an online store. You can create a buyer’s journey unique to an individual visitor, deliver goods at lightning speeds, and use the various product recommendation engines to expose your brand to entirely new audiences.