Ecommerce has revolutionized the way people shop. It has evolved and expanded to meet the ever-changing needs of customers. Whether it’s the introduction of same-day shipping, improved integration with brick and mortar stores, enhanced return policies, or customization, the eCommerce industry has quickly adapted to the changes that have arisen. 

In 2021, the world of eCommerce is going to continue to evolve and expand. If you are still questioning whether eCommerce is the future, the following trends might convince you otherwise. 

Ecommerce Growth Statistics to Note

Traditional retail sales drastically declined in 2020, but eCommerce stores saw a staggering 129% year-over-year growth in the United States and Canada as of April 21, with 146% growth during the first few months of 2020. Online retail has continued to grow steadily over the past three years. 

Overall, it is estimated that U.S. retail sales grew by 31.8% in 2020 compared to 2019, which exceeded the worldwide retail eCommerce growth of 27.6%. 

Source: eMarketer 

Most brick and mortar stores transitioned part of their business to an online model to survive the challenges of 2020. As a result of this shift, U.S. eCommerce sales were projected to hit $710B in 2020 and are on track to exceed that number in 2021. 

Source: eMarketer 

eCommerce continues to take more shares from total retail sales year after year, and the current situation is only advancing the eCommerce growth trend. 

Source: Digitalcommerce360 

It is likely no surprise that things are trending this way but where should you put your focus moving into 2021 as you plan to grow your eCommerce business? We have outlined some of the top trends and action items when planning to grow your business online in 2021.  

Mobile Commerce Trends 

Mobile commerce plays a large factor in the growth of eCommerce sales. Sales made via mobile devices have increased by 15% since 2018. 

Source: Statista 

It is also predicted that by the end of 2021, 73% of all eCommerce sales will happen on a mobile device. Taking these statistics into consideration, this means your brand must invest in improving its mobile eCommerce experience. 

Mobile devices are used at all stages of the buying process. Consumers are using their mobile devices to perform early research and to browse multiple shops before they commit to their purchase. As mobile usage increases, more and more people are comfortable shopping on their mobile devices. 

Over 50 percent of the U.S. population is under the age of 40. That means the majority of U.S. residents have grown up with the internet and have come to expect a seamless mobile shopping experience. As a result, more companies are investing in mobile commerce to make the online shopping experience more simple and accessible to a growing audience. 

Personalization Ecommerce Trends 

The most successful eCommerce companies master the craft of personalization. Creating a unique and personal experience for each customer, allows your business to build a more meaningful relationship with them. These human touchpoints help you stand out among your competitors. 

Enriched personal data can be used to your company’s advantage. Social media accounts and search engine optimization efforts can help you extract this personal data. You can filter your customers’ search queries, page visits, purchase history, search history and so much more. 

You can use this data to build a personal experience for each of your visitors. Tactics may include dynamic content filtering, displaying product recommendations based on user behavior, or offering unique offers based on their shopping history. 

Almost half (48%) of consumers will leave a site and purchase elsewhere when they feel their shopping experience isn’t personalized according to a study in 2018. When personalization is done right, it can have a strong impact on driving online purchases.

Voice Search Trends 

Did you know approximately 72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker use their device every day? As an extension of AI, voice search utilizes machine learning to learn about your personal habits and needs. In fact, these devices will not only let you buy coffee beans but will also automatically suggest in a month that you add coffee to your shopping cart. 

Source: ThinkwithGoogle 

Voice search will further enhance personalization and buying behavior. It is important to distinguish which products are more likely to be found using voice search and optimizing specifically for voice-related keywords. Such typical products would likely include items a customer reorders and inexpensive impulse buys. 

Voice search picks up on a customer’s search queries and will respond with the best answer in the featured snippet. Below are a few tips to better optimize content for featured snippets and voice search. 

Featured snippets are highlighted search results that appear at the top of Google’s organic results. These responses aim to answer the search query immediately, thus providing an exceptional user experience.

Understanding how Google results are changing should guide you in your efforts to optimize the information on your site. SEO should play a critical role in your marketing efforts in 2021, and featured snippets are a big part of that. Here’s how you can optimize for them:  

  • Answer Questions Concisely

Featured snippets are not essays, but are brief answers that get straight to the point. Google prefers answers that are given in one paragraph. The average length of featured snippets is approximately 45 words. Use this as a guide as you build content

While your answer should be limited to one paragraph, this does not mean the article in which the information is found should be short. Instead, Google prefers long-form content that drives at answering multiple questions about the topic at length. 

  • Adjust Writing Style

Include the question you are looking to rank for as a subheading. After the subheading, immediately answer the question in one paragraph and continue to elaborate further in the remainder of the article.  

  • Stick to Facts

Google rewards articles that share statistics, lists, steps, and numbers. You may be familiar with featured snippets that list the number of steps in a project, list all the ingredients in a recipe, and share specific conversions. Keep this in mind as you craft your content. 

Video trends 

By 2023, the approximate market volume for video advertising is expected to increase to $40,073M. This market is going to expand as people continue to live a streaming culture. Video streaming has exploded as Disney, WarnerMedia, Viacom, Apple, and others offer their own streaming services because video consumption has increased drastically. 

Video trends to note:

Consumers want to be entertained so brands need to find ways to get in front of their target market through TikTok, Instagram Reels, in-streaming video ads, and others. Below are trends and tips to help your video ads stand out from other brands. 

Vertical Video 

Approximately 61% of internet users connect with their mobile phones, and data suggests about half of this time is spent on social media and video watching. 

As users browse Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and others, they are looking for convenience. Vertical videos better adapt to their interface. 

Short Videos

It is no surprise that short videos are more successful at drawing in a consumer’s attention during their scrolling. The optimal advertising video length is approximately 5-15 seconds. Capturing a consumer’s attention is tough, but now brands must be able to do it in 5 seconds or less. 

Customized Video Ads

Brands are currently taking advantage of sending personalized videos to invite customers to online events or to serve as holiday cards, birthday cards, and thank you cards. This trend of increased personalization will continue to expand as brands take advantage of AI. 

Interactive Video Ads

Videos that include polls, active CTAs, links, and more are able to draw in a user to participate with their message. Currently, brands use this format for educational content, but it is expected to expand in order to attract new consumers.

Remote work and employee trends   

In a recent PwC survey of 669 CEOs, approximately 78% confirm that remote collaboration is going to stay long-term. This means organizations need to realign their recruiting strategies to attract and retain top talent. When hiring remote employees, you are not just looking for the candidate who has the right job skills but you are also looking for an individual who is more suitable for a remote work environment. 

Remote Work Statistics

  • 65% of employees desire to work full-time post-pandemic, and 31% want to work in a hybrid remote work environment. When combined, approximately 96% of employees desire some form of remote work. (FlexJobs Survey)
  • More importantly, approximately 27% of employees said the ability to work from home was so crucial that they were willing to take a 10-20% pay cut. (FlexJobs Survey)
  • 81% of employees said they are more loyal to employers that offer flexible work environments. (FlexJobs Survey)
  • In a recent performance-based remote work-study, 94% of employers surveyed reported productivity has been the same or higher since their workforce started working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Mercer)
  • United States companies that offer remote work have a 25% lower employee turnover rate. (Owl Labs)

Challenges with Remote Workers 

While employees want the option to work remotely, that brings up challenges for businesses to train and retain employees since they become disconnected from others within the organization. 

This also can lead to a disconnect between employees and the business as a whole. Companies need to find ways to keep employees engaged since the traditional office setting is shifting. In order to do that, businesses need to have a stronger pulse of their employees as they train and retain their employees. 

Businesses Will Continue to Refine How They Operate   

Businesses will have to modify their operating structures to achieve maximum revenue attainment. Two large retailers that are important to analyze are Macy’s and Nordstrom. 

Earlier this month, Macy’s announced they would be closing 45 of its 125 stores. This announcement is no surprise since almost 40% of their revenue is coming from online. Nordstrom also reported their Q2 earnings comprised 60% of their total revenue coming from eCommerce sales

While eCommerce is only a part of their total retail sales, these businesses were able to survive in large part due to online sales, which grew by 19% overall last year. 

Source: https://public.flourish.studio/story/733870/ 

The events of 2020 forced businesses to diversify how they generated revenue. It made them look at online channels as a serious option for how consumers interact with their brands. Businesses and consumers learned to adapt, which will change consumer shopping habits moving forward. Because of this, businesses are rethinking how they approach marketing, employee hiring, roles and responsibilities, and operations moving forward. 

Tips for  Businesses to Find Success Moving Forward.  

As businesses plan to move forward, they need to understand not only the challenges that came about from the events of last year but also how they will alter behavioral shifts in buying habits and how to operate in 2021. This shift should cause a business to look at products and opportunities that will come about as a result of the current pandemic situation. For example, Harvard Business Review put together the following chart:  

Source: HBR 

We suggest you do a similar business analysis, if you haven’t already, to understand how to adjust your entire business model as you figure out what the new normal will look like. How do you create and deliver value across marketing, manufacturing and supply chain, R&D, and employee hiring and training. As an example, let’s look at how the current situation has impacted your workforce as they shifted to a remote environment, since that will likely be the new normal moving forward and how to adapt to the needs of the business. 

We interviewed Colby Bauer, CEO of Threads Wallets about how he builds his team and will work to keep them engaged with the business. Thread Wallet was an early DTC business that has expanded in other areas so we wanted to gather some perspective from a business that was online from the beginning.  

Colby Bauer, Thread Wallets

Gather a Fresh Perspective

Thread Wallets encourages all its employees to attend events (in-person or online) and trade shows to see how their products are perceived and how their customers interact with their products. Similar to how Disney encouraged all its employees who worked on “Ratatouille” to go to Paris and gather first-hand information to add a special touch to the film, our team attends our customers’ events to see how our products play a role in their adventures. 

Learn from the Best

In addition, all our employees are encouraged to learn from brands they are individually attached to. We provide everyone with a $75 budget to buy something they want, and in return, they must take extensive notes on the brand experience. Specific things to note include:

  • What experience is the product offering customers?
  • How are their customer service standards?
  • What was the shipping like?
  • How was the packaging perceived? 

The notes gathered serve as a training tool to help our employees identify specifics they would like to change and implement within our own brand. 

Retain

Colby Bauer, Thread Wallets

We have a goal of making people say, “I love working here.” This is achieved through hiring unique individuals who have long-term growth goals that we can support and help them attain. We also strive to develop an autonomous work environment. 

In order to create a culture of autonomy, we make sure we aren’t over-hiring. We don’t want roles to overlap in responsibility so that we can define their lane. This way, they can focus on doing the best they can within their area of expertise.

It’s 2021, brands can no longer decide how they should operate the business online. Brands must first be aware of the trends that have come about with the current landscape and then look at how the business needs to operate moving forward to stay ahead of the competition. Now more than ever, brands must adapt and build a convenient and personal purchasing experience that meets customers online.  

Greg is a member of the executive team at Stryde and a seasoned digital marketer who has worked with thousands of businesses, large and small, to generate more revenue via online marketing strategy and execution. Greg has written hundreds of blog posts as well as spoken at many events about online marketing strategy. You can follow Greg on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.