The year 2020 was exceptional for e-commerce. The restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic made the internet the leading and at times the only sales and customer contact channel. This, in turn, led to an increase in e-commerce at 39%. Such dynamic growth of the sector has resulted in the development of trends that will evolve in 2021. Let us take a closer look at them!
1. Subscription sales
The leading e-commerce trends for 2021 include the subscription sales model. Over the years it has been associated mainly with telecommunications, subscriptions to magazines or mail-order clubs, it will also increase significantly in Internet sales. This model provides access to specific goods and services by paying a regular, cyclical subscription fee.
Examples include popular services such as Netflix and HBO or Spotify and Tidal. Amazon Prime also offers a subscription option. It is forecast that this sales model will continue to grow and will cover other product categories, such as books, cosmetics, healthy food, home chemistry, children's products and many others. The convenience of a monthly automatic direct debit and the possibility to cancel the service at any time tempt many consumers. Subscription sales also mean many benefits for sellers. It allows them to increase sales on the site, build brand loyalty and more accurately estimate the demand for the goods.
2. Service personalisation
Personalisation in e-commerce has been gaining in popularity in recent years, but according to experts, it will become a mandatory strategy for online shops in 2021. At a time when they can no longer seek only the price of the customer, skilful service personalisation will become crucial. It will be critical in the coming months to build individual relationships with customers and address tailored messages to them. However, inserting a user's name at the beginning of an e-mail or showing recently viewed, recommended, or complementary products is not enough.
Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, online shops will be able to analyse large ranges of data and on this basis, create shopping scenarios perfectly suited to a particular person. In addition to the popular chatbots supporting the sales process, many shops will also introduce advanced product configurators that will allow for their maximum adaptation to the needs of the customer. Augmented reality solutions will also help to increase conversions, which will allow to get to know a given product and interact with it even before the purchase.
3. Environmentally responsible purchasing
Ecological consumerism is gaining ground. Nearly half the customers of online shops can pay more for a product manufactured and delivered sustainably. In 2021, the zero-waste trend will gain in importance, forcing online businesses to implement environmentally friendly practices. Environmentally responsible purchasing (so-called green consumerism) will primarily cover the packaging and the delivery of orders.
Biodegradable or recycled packaging and fillers will be widely used. It will also become popular to provide search and filter functions for environmentally friendly products. This will increase the number of shops that will allow customers to return orders in a stationary shop, which will reduce unnecessary courier trips and re-packing. It will also be necessary for consumers to work with courier companies that provide delivery to collection points or wholesale shipping to reduce the carbon footprint. A dynamic boom in re-commerce is also expected, i.e., purchase and sale of second-hand clothes and accessories.
4. Social commerce
Another year will also be marked by social commerce, which is based on the use of social media to sell products and services online. Social media are much more than a communication channel for millions of people – today, they also serve as a useful marketing tool, allowing brands from almost every industry to reach potential customers effectively.
Online retailers can significantly increase sales results by using their Facebook or Instagram profiles. Equipping both platforms with the functionality of purchasing enables the sellers to conduct sales to a precisely defined group of recipients. They appreciate the convenience and speed of shopping, which is reflected in the continually growing number of purchases made through social media. 2021 brought further improvements in building the so-called social-marketplace.
5. Quick and free delivery
Customer expectations of speed and cost of delivery in 2021 will have a substantial impact on e-commerce. As numerous studies show, as many as 2/3 of consumers already decide to abandon their shopping cart if they do not meet their expected delivery time or cost. As a result, the number of same-day and weekend delivery will increase. Many of them will also opt for free shipping.
6. Data analysis
Analysis of data in e-commerce will also become more critical. Thanks to thorough verification of the collected data and drawing valuable business information from it, it will be possible to understand the needs of customers even better. Thus, owners of online shops will be able to optimise their pricing policy and stock.
However, one should be aware that the amount of data collected by e-shops increases every year. To properly aggregate, segment and analyse them, special tools such as Ecometrixo are needed. Thanks to them, the risk of misinterpretations is reduced, we have access to all information in one place and in real time, which saves time and money.