Top 7 Trends in the eCommerce Industry in 2021: What Can We Expect?

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Written by: pTranslate Contributors


It is almost impossible to predict the future. There are so many possibilities that can happen. Nobody in early 2020 could have predicted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our world. However, we can at least have an attempt at it by looking at historical and present data. There have been some clear patterns in the eCommerce industry that tell us where it is heading in the near future. 

In this article, we will explore those patterns, and form an educated guess on the future trends of this booming industry. If you are a buyer, get ready to experience an entirely new level of shopping. If you are a retailer, get ready to adapt to every single change, or else you will immediately fall behind and lose your competitive advantage.

top trends in ecommerce industry

1. The Power of Gen Z

Gen Z is the young generation of our world, who was born between the late 90s and early 2000s. They are now stepping into adulthood, carrying with them the open-mindedness and technological savviness into the eCommerce world. They have different attitudes and expectations towards business in general.

Gen Z grew up in informationally-chaotic times, when social media and the Internet booms, gaining them access to a vast amount of information that no previous generation could have thought of. Therefore, our young generation is more receptive to new ideas and more willing to do away with old values. They are ready to experience and connect with people, businesses, and brands from all around the world.

This brings tremendous opportunities and challenges to eCommerce retailers. Sellers now have a much bigger audience to market their products to, but they also have to adapt to the diverse interests and expectations from these high-potential buyers.

As Gen Z increases their buying powers, we will see our world changing to adapt to their demands. By increasing social media interaction and using fast, engaging content to capture the attention of this tech-savvy generation, we will be able to profit from this high-potential generation.

2. Global eCommerce is booming

We are talking global eCommerce, and indeed the world has been shifting to this method since the start of the pandemic. Reduced traffic and the long quarantine make people unable to shop from physical stores, so they have to choose the online shopping alternative. In countries where eCommerce is not yet developed, the COVID-19 pandemic turns out to be a “demo” for the convenience of online shopping.

Moreover, COVID-19 has also sped up the adaptation of necessary technologies for a growing eCommerce industry. People in these countries can slowly get used to the process of ordering and delivering on their devices. In a way, COVID-19 gave the undeveloped eCommerce industry there to slowly gain traction for a boom in the future. This is truly a wonderful opportunity to take on.

Market penetration will be much easier compared to pre-COVID times. In the pre-COVID era, the undeveloped eCommerce landscape may cause doubts in the consumers. But now, market penetration is much easier as people have realized the powers and potential of this fast-growing industry.

Of course, eCommerce brands have to carefully research the markets before they enter. Different countries have different consumer behaviors, expectations, and competition for the same product. Not doing research is preparing for failure. There are a few basic things to ask yourself:

  • Is there a market for the products in that market?
  • How fierce is the competition there?
  • Will my marketing campaigns be the same, or should there be tweaks to make them more culturally appropriate?
  • How will we approach shipping?
  • What is the payment method?
  • Do I need to translate my websites, product descriptions, and other aspects into the language that people there use?

These are all questions that you should definitely consider. Expanding globally is not simply just selling your products to people outside of your border. You have to be aware that these people think in a different language, have different cultural values from yours. These differences can be so big that you might need to create an entirely new strategy to capture these highly-potential buyers. You can have a look at a detailed guide that we have written on global expansion. It will provide a framework for your international expansion strategy.

3. Robotics, Automation, Machine Learning, and the power of Big Data

Robotics have been used to replace certain manual, repetitive jobs, and we already saw its powers when humans can’t go out to ship products in the pandemic. Delivery by drones, robotic devices, and other automatic vehicles is a reality, and it can reduce costs significantly in the long run, while saving up human resources for other tasks. It is also more efficient for warehouse tasks compared to a physically limited human. In the near future, robotics is likely to aid humans a lot in logistics and transportation tasks.

Similarly, data is also making a substantial impact on the way we approach eCommerce. You will understand why data is the key industry of the next decade when you realize that the amount of raw data we currently have is enormous. Almost every single person’s data is collected and stored. When properly analyzed and applied, this gigantic amount of data has transformative powers. And the transformation is already happening.

We will take Spotify as an example. Although Spotify is not an eCommerce industry, it is still a typical example of data analytics success. Users of Spotify can all agree that it has excellent recommendation algorithms. Spotify technology collects and analyzes users’ data to generate insights into their favorite music genres. This creates a superb user experience, which is the driving factor of Spotify’s success.

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Taking this into the eCommerce industry, we can see how the use of data can create a more personalized user experience. We can use Machine Learning to learn more about users’ browsing history, buying history, and tons of other factors. When combined, those data can categorize each buyer into different groups and segments, and create a suitable, hyper-personalized shopping experience and recommendations for them.

Segmentation has never been easier, and we can cater to the needs of our customers at the finest level and detail. The data captured can even tell buyers of their store’s performance, reduce risk, suggest suitable strategies, and many more. Overall, the eCommerce industry has been and will be developing along with data analytics. Together, they will create an exceptional customer experience for us all. As sellers, it’s your job to understand this trend and follow it. This is for the greater good.

4. Customer Experience is now the focus point

As we have mentioned in the previous sections, companies are now focusing on Customer Experience rather than being product-centric. This is because the industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and low-quality products will be pushed out of the market immediately. Customer Experience becomes the main area of competition between merchants. eCommerce stores have to work hard to offer their targeted demographic a rich shopping experience that perfectly suits their needs.

There have been more and more solutions to create that outstanding shopping experience for your customers. It’s your job to analyze and understand your customers and create the most suitable set of experiences for them.

For example, 3D, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality provide an opportunity for the customers to engage and experience the products before they decide to buy. It eliminates the physical limitations of online shopping and makes online shopping feel more authentic as if they are truly shopping at a physical store.

5. More local and global payment methods to reach potential customers from around the world

A lot of customers abandon their cart right at the moment they check out because of the payment method. Money knows no border, but the transfer of money currently is still limited. Besides credit card and credit card, Paypal is one of the most widely chosen due to its speed and convenience. In the future, there will be more payment methods created to solve the problems that eCommerce stores are facing, and we should always stay updated. Once again, we are trying to create a personalized experience for our customers. By providing them with the ability to choose, we can ensure a higher conversion rate and user satisfaction.

6. Social responsibility and sustainability in the business model

ESG values have been adopted to create a better future for the next generations when we realize how damaged the Earth currently is. The COVID-19 pandemic reveals that harsh reality even more. We saw how nature came back and thrive when human activity is reduced. This calls out for a stronger focus on socially responsible business model instead of profitability.

Companies are now working to promote sustainable use of natural resources, energy, as well as creating a healthy environment for social development by investing in social, educational, and environmental organizations.

These changes are economically unfavorable in the short run. However, in the long run, it proved to have an incredibly high ROI. Companies that incorporated eco-friendly practices into their business model report high savings, better employee satisfaction, stronger brand awareness, and more importantly, higher revenue. This is because employees are also having higher awareness of their impact on the environment, and they want to do something to alleviate the damage.

7. Voice Search

Voice technology is not new, but it’s not yet perfect. There’s still a long way to go before voice search becomes a truly functional feature in eCommerce. Machine Learning needs time to learn all of the nuances in people’s voices and languages. Once enough samples have been collected, we can expect voice search to become a dominant search feature, replacing text search. Currently, we have Alexa and Amazon voice search, but they’re surely not enough. We need a stronger, better voice search, and it will be a thing in the near future.

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