It’s safe to say that eCommerce has been booming over the past year. COVID-19 saw an unprecedented rise in online shopping – both by necessity and as a joyous escape from the pandemic – and the popularity of digital commerce is showing no signs of slowing down.
In 2020, the UK eCommerce market increased by 27%, and 2021 has built on that success by capitalising on new trends in the market.
With that in mind, here are the hottest eCommerce trends of 2021 to keep an eye on going forward.
Having a Robust Digital Strategy is More Important Than Ever
With the rise in online shopping, a comprehensive plan of action is crucial.
A digital strategy for your ecommerce business will ensure that all bases are covered as comfortably as possible. Email marketing, targeted ads, high-quality content and captivating PR campaigns must all work in tandem to deliver an optimal ROI.
Digital marketing is becoming increasingly specialised, so a fully stocked team of specialists is vital for delivering consistent and reliable results. Ensuring that you have experts in all areas of digital marketing at your disposal will enable you to draft a strategy that meets your eCom expectations and provides synergy throughout your campaigns.
Personalised Email Marketing is All the Rage
While all areas of digital marketing have seen an increase in importance for eCommerce, one that’s particularly noteworthy is email marketing. Personalisation has become a buzzword in marketing recently, and that’s because consumers are craving unique experiences that can’t be found in the generic methods of the past.
As email automation becomes smarter, businesses have more tools at their disposal for forging connections with their customers.
Customers want to be shown that you’re thinking about their needs throughout their journey with you. Get personal with them to connect with them and build that all-important relationship.
Of course, fully personalised emails may be harder to implement and automate if you’re a smaller business, but they’re well worth the effort, and consumers expect this effort as retail becomes increasingly digitalised.
So, what does this look like?
Platforms like Klaviyo allow businesses to tailor the customer journey, feeding them the information they need, when they need it. A digital marketing agency can help you understand your ideal customer and build an experience for them through email marketing.
The Future (and Present) is Mobile
Earlier this year, Statista reported that 69% of retail site visits were attributed to mobile searches.
This is huge. It reinforces that the focus on mobile development needs to be sharper than ever for businesses with cleanly designed, responsive sites that suit mobile users and encourage conversions on the platform. Moving forward, the emphasis on mobile eCommerce will only grow stronger, so tailoring your strategy to this approach is vital.
Influencers Have Become Brand Partners
Influencer marketing has seen a rapid rise over the years, with paid social media playing a large role in its growth (again, synergy!). Making use of influencers to market your products is a fantastic way to tap into new audiences, which is why brands large and small alike are devoting more attention to it.
Developing relationships with influencers will in turn grow your own influence, so if you aren’t already, identify influencers that could complement your brand and reach out to them – it all begins with a DM!
AI & Machine Learning are Tailoring Customer Experience
Many of the largest eCommerce businesses have already implemented AI into the online shopping experience, and 2021 has been a year in which smaller businesses have followed suit.
Again, this is all in the name of personalisation. By collecting data from shoppers, an AI-powered eCom store can provide tailored recommendations based on each shopper’s individual habits. It can also recommend products based on certain conditions – for example, The North Face enables shoppers to find the right jacket for their needs based on when and where they plan to use the jacket.
Meanwhile, machine learning “remembers” a user’s habits and previous interactions with the site to show them relevant pages and products upon their return. Amazon relies on this to a large degree.
The thing to remember about AI and machine learning is that they provide deeper personalised experiences, and personalised experiences build brand loyalty. When your customer feels valued, they’ll value you in turn – it’s as simple as that.
Chatbots: friend or foe?
Chatbots are programs on a website that simulate a conversation with a human user. They can be implemented at any stage of the customer journey, from the home page to shopping cart, and can be programmed to assist the user based on their queries. Think of an intelligent search engine contained to your website – with a faux-human touch.
This tendency towards ‘conversational commerce’ is what online shoppers have been missing, but the gap is being bridged with the aid of AI like Chatbots. As they become more sophisticated and more widespread, they also become more reliable, and are a great means of instantly engaging your customer with 0 of the wait times involved when trying to speak to a specialist.
Augmented Reality is Becoming More and More Prevalent
Thanks to advancements in AR technology, the gap between online and physical stores is narrowing.
Back in 2019, Gartner predicted that 100 million consumers will shop in augmented reality online and in-store by 2020. The Gartner survey also indicated that 46% of retailers planned to add AR or VR functionality to their eCommerce stores, giving customers a more tailored shopping experience from the comfort of their homes.
A great example of AR in eCommerce is IKEA’s Place app, which allows users to pick up and drop IKEA products in areas around their homes through their device cameras. This is revolutionary, as it has the potential to ensure customer satisfaction before the purchase is even made. Customer return rates are dramatically reduced, while conversions can skyrocket by up to 94% with AR content.
We’re fast approaching AR functionality becoming the norm. Enough high-profile retailers have begun to successfully deploy it that it’s safe to assume it will only become more prevalent, not less.
In any case, it’s a development to watch eagerly and begin to plan for. Ask yourself, how could your eCommerce business benefit from an AR-fuelled shopping experience?
Sustainability is Influencing Consumerism Like Never Before
Sustainable consumerism is gaining traction in tandem with online retail. In 2019, 65% of consumers said they actively wanted to buy from brands that advocate sustainability, according to the Harvard Business Review. As the call for ‘green consumerism’ increases, this number is only expected to expand.
As such, the majority of consumers will expect to see a dedication to sustainability on the part of the business during the customer journey. Evidence to prove your business takes sustainability into account – through either already implemented steps or a dedication to working towards a more sustainable business model – will further the trust in your brand and futureproof your eCommerce business.
This is true not only on a customer-facing level but on a business level as well; consumers are warier with placing their trust in brands before they know how they operate. Transparency is key here, and you can show this to customers with a tailored eCommerce marketing campaign.
The Future of eCommerce: What to Expect Going Forward
The overarching development that ties these trends together is that the tech powering eCommerce is becoming smarter.
Over the last few years, personalisation has been the key target that is driving eCom forward. This in turn allows for more bespoke marketing that gets customers excited, reinforcing the relationship between them and the brand.
To do this, a fully stacked digital strategy and a strong awareness of your customer are essential. This is where digital marketers excel.
For more handy eCommerce tips, be sure to check out these articles on our blog:
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