10 E-Commerce Trends for 2021

2020 threw us a curveball. To stay relevant in this ever-changing marketplace, retailers need to adapt to the latest eCommerce trends. Just as COVID-19 changed the way many people shop, it has also driven innovation in the eCommerce industry.

According to Shopify, eCommerce sales are at an all-time high after the pandemic accelerated years of growth in just weeks. Also, it’s estimated that the eCommerce industry saw ten years of growth in the span of 3 months due to pandemic-related changes in customer lifestyle and needs.

The pandemic exposed the extensive capabilities of online retailers, and as a result, customer expectations are higher. Now that consumers have experienced the ease and immediacy of eCommerce, they will expect nothing less. While we can’t predict precisely what the post-pandemic world will look like, there are some emerging trends in eCommerce to look out for. 

Here are 10 e-commerce trends to keep an eye on in 2021:

1. AR & AI

Augmented Reality

AR gives customers a chance to interact with a product from the comfort of their homes. With the power of Augmented reality, brands like Ikea allows customers to see what furniture will look like in their homes before purchasing. By 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in AR online and in-store, according to Gartner, Inc.

hand holding a phone in their living room while using augmented reality to view a red chair in their home prior to purchase
Photo Credits to Inter Ikea Systems via Architectmagazine.com

Artificial Intelligence

AI tunes into customer preferences to offer a customized shopping experience. Using an influx of data, shops can cater the shopping experience to each customer’s preferences and tastes. Personalized experiences add a “human” touch to an otherwise completely digital experience.

2. Shoppable Posts

Many online retailers have opted to create shoppable posts for social media. Apps like Instagram make it easy for customers to shop a store’s products by simply scrolling through their Instagram feed. Brands can tag products in posts for a smooth shopping experience.

Instagram screenshot of a platter with 4 glasses of lemonade and sprigs of fresh herbs
Photo credits to JRA

In addition, Instagram has even added an Instagram shop, where users can shop a curated selection of products from the brand’s profile. Users can also add items to their cart and checkout all within the Instagram app. Furthermore, when brands hire influencers, they too can tag a brand’s products in their posts. This allows the influencer’s followers to shop directly from their post rather than the brand itself.

Instagram screenshot of Instagram shop feature with all white screen and pictures of products
Photo credits to JRA

3. Sustainability

In addition to improving the virtual experience, sustainability and environmentally conscious business practices are essential to many consumers. More people are beginning to care about the environmental impact of the products they consume. Whether it’s recyclable packaging or production that uses less water, customers want to know that companies care about their footprint. According to Nostos.com, “32% of consumers would pay more for a product from a brand that they believe is committed to sustainability,” and “75% of environmentally-conscious consumers want brands to reduce the amount of packaging they use”. Consumers want to buy from brands with transparency and sustainability in mind.

sustainable supplement packaging with 2 sizes if green bottles and recyclable containers
Photo credits to Trailer & Eater

4. Payment Options

Flexible payment options have become a norm in eCommerce website design.  Services like Afterpay, Later, Klarna, and Affrim allow customers to get the item now and pay in installments. In a culture that thrives on experience, these services enable customers to enjoy products now and pay later.  Other payment options include Apple Pay & Google Pay which allow customers to save a virtual version of their payment card to their phones and use it during the checkout process. This additional feature allows for a seamless checkout process for on-the-go shoppers. Applications like Venmo and CashApp give consumers easy ways to send and receive money from their friends and family. These apps have become increasingly popular, and some have integrated them as payment options in their eCommerce website designs. 

screenshot of online shopping cart with pink proceed to cart button and multiple payment options
Photo Credits to JRA via freepeople.com

5. Subscription Services

The subscription and auto-ship services bring products to consumers’ front doors regularly without the hassle of constant ordering.  Some subscription boxes and services offer a culmination of curated products, such as themed boxes from Bespoke or a unique collection of products from Ipsy.

screenshot  of subscription packages on a white background.
Photo Credits to JRA via bespoke.com

Autoship features allow customers to check out once and receive a constant stream of products. Items are then shipped monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually depending on the product or customer preference. Intuitive features for subscription services like community chat rooms or even text reminders on your order are becoming increasingly popular in eCommerce website design. Probiotic brand, Olipop, sends subscribers a text at the beginning of the month where customers can pause, modify, or cancel their monthly subscription via text. In a world of uncertainty, many customers flock to the ease and convenience of subscription-based products.

screenshot from website with green text and picture of a text message conversation on a. phone
Photo Credit to via olipop.com

6. Chatbots

People want answers now. Many brands have integrated a pop up-chatbot feature in their eCommerce website designs. After giving the bot a clever name, this bot can answer customer questions in real-time.

screenshot of the chatbot ecommerce trends witha  white background and pop up of a chatbot waiting to assist cusotmers
Photo Credit to JRA via asystem.com

7. New E-commerce Products

COVID-19 opened up an entirely new market for eCommerce within grocery stores. Grocery providers have found innovative ways to reach their customers, as people began to buy things online that they’ve never bought before.

Major grocery chains have created contactless delivery, curbside pickup, and new apps to create a seamless shopping experience. Consumer packaged goods brands now have to create an easy shopping experience both in-store and online. Some consumers use third-party services like Instacart and Shipt to deliver packages to their doorsteps. Others can buy their groceries via the grocery store’s website or app and pick up their items later in the store.

8. Automated Shipping

With an influx of online orders, many retailers turned to automated shipping to keep up with high demand. Third-party logistics companies like Shipmonk work with eCommerce brands to simplify and quicken the logistics process. Some brands use software that syncs inventory with warehouse computers, while others use robotics that can pick, pack, and ship products as soon as the customer clicks “Place My Order.”

man and woman interacting with robotic arm that sorts a yellow object into a box

9. Fast and Easy Mobile Sites

In an age of immediacy,  people want things fast and easy. To keep up with the ever-changing market, company websites need to be easy to navigate with a clear menu, legible font, and quick load time. Google released a report that over 53% of mobile users will leave a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.  Check out our previous blog post to learn more about how to optimize your mobile site.

10. Innovative Packaging

When the cardboard boxes start piling up at your doorstep, it’s nice to receive something different. Many brands have begun using innovative packaging to enhance user experience. From shipping boxes personalized with your name to signature color poly-mailers, companies have innovative ways to brand every aspect of the user experience.

hand holding a brown recycle package with a motivational phrase  in front of a white background
Photo Credit to Pinterest
brown cardboard box on a wooden table with branded tissues paper packaging inside
Photo Credit to Fit Small Business
bright red box on a purple surface surrounded by postcards and small bags
Photo Credit to Pinterest

Challenges faced in 2020 means innovation in 2021. We were forced to adapt, and most companies changed for the better. It will be challenging to know what will happen to eCommerce after the next major world event, but we do know that eCommerce can adapt and meet the needs of customers, no matter the circumstances.

Contact us here at James Ross Advertising to help ensure your business is staying up-to-date on the latest eCommerce innovations.