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10 Ecommerce Trends You Need to Know to Thrive in 2021

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Even though 2020 is almost coming to an end, it’s still hard to adjust to the ‘new normal.’ But when it comes to ecommerce, keeping up with changes can determine a business’s future. 

And it has been quite an eventful year for ecommerce. As the world turned to digital, online shopping became more popular than ever. So much so that the unstoppable rise of global ecommerce sales is expected to reach a whopping $6.5 trillion in 2023

Graphic of global ecommerce sales growth from 2017 to 2023

But when the cake is so big, everyone wants a slice. Considering that starting an online business is easier, more affordable, and more rewarding than ever, differentiation will mean survival in the competitive ecommerce environment of 2021.

In addition to the innovations in technology, changes in consumer behavior will be an essential determinant for the top trends in online shopping. So it’s also crucial to understand how these ecommerce trends can serve the new needs of consumers.

Therefore in this article, we’ll talk about 10 of the most important 2021 ecommerce trends in light of the new normal.

1. Subscription-based ecommerce

Subscription-based ecommerce is a business model in which consumers subscribe to receive products or services on a recurring basis in exchange for regular payments. The model is adopted by popular D2C brands such as Dollar Shave Club and Blue Apron meal kits, and it has been growing at a rapid pace since!

Dollar Shave Club — An example of subscription-based ecommerce

According to data from McKinsey, 15% of online shoppers have signed up for one or more subscriptions to receive products on a recurring basis — frequently through monthly boxes.

Consumers love this model because it’s convenient, highly-personalized, and often cheaper. And you can’t overlook the factor of the addicting excitement of receiving a box of goodies at your door every month!

Quote by Krish Iyer on subscription-based ecommerce

And if you’re wondering what people buy through subscription, beauty products and food are the most popular categories, followed by apparel. However, considering its convenience and benefits for businesses, we might see various ecommerce industries adopting the subscription model in 2021.

The primary advantage of this model for businesses is customer retention. It’s been long said that it’s preferable to keep existing customers as acquiring new ones is harder and costlier.

But it will be even more important next year as research shows that customer loyalty took a hit during the pandemic. The subscription model can serve as a useful tool for ecommerce businesses to overcome this problem and retain customers in 2021. 

Key Takeaways

  • 15% of online shoppers have signed up for one or more subscriptions
  • The most popular subscription-based ecommerce categories are beauty products, food, and apparel.
  • Subscription-based ecommerce is an effective way of retaining customers.

2. Green Consumerism

Green consumerism refers to the notion of making purchasing decisions based on environmental concerns. And in 2021, consumers —particularly millennials— will be more concerned about the environment and sustainability than ever before. 

Not only half of the digital consumers say environmental concerns impact their purchasing decisions, but research found that 43% of shoppers are more likely to shop with a rival retailer if they offered a greater range of sustainable delivery options.

Maybe it wasn’t always easy to find a sustainable alternative before, but in 2021, it’s safe to say that this won’t be the case. To attract green-conscious consumers, we’ll see more ecommerce brands adopting sustainability practices.

The Nielson Company stats on green consumerism

But green consumerism isn’t just about the product itself. It also takes into account aspects like packaging, carbon footprint, and recycling. Therefore even details like sending digital receipts instead of paper slips can play a significant role in consumers’ purchasing decisions.

This immense focus on eco-friendly products combined with the increasing health concerns caused by the pandemic signals that green consumerism will have a big influence on the ecommerce landscape next year. And sustainable businesses will be one step ahead in the competition regardless of their industries. 

Key Takeaways

  • Half of the digital consumers say environmental concerns impact their purchasing decisions.
  • 43% of shoppers are more likely to shop with a rival retailer if they offer a greater range of sustainable delivery options.
  • Green consumerism will gain even more importance in 2021 due to increased health concerns.

3. Shoppable TV

Have you ever watched a TV show and wondered where the main character’s shirt is from? Well, you’ll no longer wonder in 2021 because shoppable TV will allow viewers to purchase products seen on their favorite shows immediately.

This trend came to the spotlight when NBCUniversal rolled out its shoppable TV ads last year. The company incorporated pop-up ads that give QR codes that direct consumers to the products seen on the scene.

NBCUniversal Shoppable Tv Ads

NBCUniversal later stated that its shoppable TV ads resulted in an average conversion rate that’s nearly 30% higher than the ecommerce industry benchmark, and in a 10% growth rate on social media!

And these numbers might even be higher in 2021, considering the changing TV watching habits. According to data from Comcast, the average household is watching at least 8 hours more TV per week — a full workday more.

Therefore it’s safe to say that this interactive trend that merges two pandemic favorites — online shopping and watching TV— will be the ecommerce trend to watch out for in 2021.

Key Takeaways

  • NBCUniversal’s shoppable TV ads resulted in an average conversion rate that’s nearly 30% higher than the ecommerce industry benchmark and in 10% growth rates on social media.
  • Shoppable TV ads will gain popularity as consumers watch more TV than before.

4. Recommerce

Another trend that emerged from the ethically conscious millennial mindset is recommerce, also known as second-hand commerce. As the name suggests, it refers to buying and selling second-hand products through ecommerce.

Although it’s nothing new, it’s gaining popularity as the perception towards second-hand shopping is changing. Millennials see it as a way of being responsible as opposed to older generations that prefer buying brand new products. 

This new mindset is so effective that recent research predicts the second-hand market will double within the next five years. 

Quote by Forbes on Resale Industry

Moreover, the financial concerns caused by the economic crisis led consumers to be more mindful about their spendings. Analysts predict that consumers will turn to sites like thredUP and Rebag to clean out their closets for extra cash and look for cheaper clothing options.

According to GlobalData, sales of new clothing are expected to fall 4% through 2024 due to the growth of resale. However, this indicates a new opportunity for ecommerce merchants to create new shopping experiences and attract conscious consumers.

Key Takeaways

  • Interest in second-hand ecommerce will increase as consumers will look for ways to earn extra income and become more mindful of their spending habits.
  • The second-hand market will double within the next five years. 
  • The sales of new clothing are expected to fall 4% through 2024 due to the growth of resale.

5. Social commerce

Despite everything that has changed in 2020, one thing stayed the same; we still live and breathe social media. So, what’s more convenient than being able to buy products directly from your favorite social media app?

And what’s worth noting about social commerce is the opportunity of attracting customers that didn’t even have the intention of buying your product in the first place. 

Social media is so impactful on consumers’ purchasing decisions that a Deloitte report found that consumers who are influenced by social media are 4 times more likely to spend more on purchases. 

Stat on social media influence on millennials by Deloitte

If you’d like to jump on the bandwagon in 2021, you have some new options. Instagram has recently joined Facebook and started allowing users to directly shop within the app.

Instagram social commerce

This was a smart move from the brand, considering that after seeing a product or service on Instagram, 79% of users search for more information, 37% visit the retail store, and 46% make a purchase. Now users can go through all of these buying stages without having to leave the app.

Stats on social commerce usage by Avionos

In addition to more sales, social media offers an excellent opportunity for brands to build brand awareness and engage with customers. 73% of marketers believe that their efforts through social media marketing have been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business. 

Graphic of social media activities that influence shopping behavior

So it’s not hard to predict that social media will once again be one of the most effective tools for ecommerce merchants in 2021.

Key Takeaways

  • Consumers who are influenced by social media are 4 times more likely to spend more on purchases. 
  • 40% of consumers have purchased via Facebook, 13% via Instagram, and 12% via Pinterest.
  • 73% of marketers believe that their efforts through social media marketing have been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business. 

6. Voice Commerce

Alexa, find some stats about voice commerce!

Smart speakers have been a part of our lives for a long time now. People use it for various purposes, including listening to music, searching for information — and lately for shopping online. The trend started following the launch of Amazon’s smart speaker, “Echo” back in 2014.

According to research, around 20% of smart speaker owners in the US use them for shopping-related activities, such as ordering products, conducting research, or tracking deliveries. And this figure is expected to reach 55% within the next two years.

Graphic about smart speaker use for ecommerce among big vendors

Categories like homeware, food, and low-cost electronics are the most popular ones among voice commerce purchases. However, consumers seem to be reluctant to purchase more expensive products through voice commerce. A Microsoft’s study found that “41% of users report concerns around trust, privacy and passive listening.”

Therefore, businesses that consider engaging in voice commerce should be aware of this factor and ensure consumers that their privacy is protected.

And businesses should also hurry up because in a study of 400 business decision-makers, Adobe found that “91% are already making significant investments in voice; 94% plan to increase their investment in the coming year.” 

Key Takeaways

  • Around 20% of smart speaker owners in the US use them for shopping-related activities, and this figure is expected to reach 55% within the next two years.
  • The most popular voice commerce categories are homeware, food, and low-cost electronics.
  • 91% of decision-makers are making significant investments in voice commerce and 94% plan to increase their investment in the coming year.

7. Artificial Intelligence

You didn’t think that I would forget to mention AI in an article about 2021 ecommerce trends, did you? The use of artificial intelligence in ecommerce will be particularly important in 2021 as it can make online shopping feel like a real-life in-store experience. Something we aren’t experiencing as much nowadays.

Ecommerce businesses are already taking advantage of the features AI is offering such as product recommendations, customer assisting, and product visualization. But it seems that it will be even more useful for online merchants next year.

In addition to sales and customer service, AI will give businesses recommendations on the optimal channel, time and price based on their products and consumers in light of current trends — talk about targeting!  

Moreover, AI can take your personalization efforts to the next level by monitoring the touchpoints in every stage of the online shopping experience. And it’s much more versatile than mere product recommendations.

For example, AI can be used to personalize addressing with unique messages, adjust product descriptions, and tailor relevant marketing content for customers based on visitor history. No wonder AI is among the top ecommerce trends list for 2021!

And ecommerce merchants aren’t missing out on this opportunity. According to Global E-commerce Society, ecommerce companies will spend 7.3 billion on AI by 2022. Will you be among them?

Key Takeaways

  • AI will improve the online shopping experience and take it closer to the real-life in-store experience.
  • AI will be used to enhance personalization.
  • Ecommerce companies will spend 7.3 billion on AI by 2022.

8. BTC Payments

Payment is a crucial part of the customer journey, and the more payment options you offer, the more chances you have at conversion. Bitcoin has been under the spotlight as a payment method since more people started using it for their online purchases. 

Customers and business owners prefer payment via Bitcoin for several reasons:

  1. Immediate transaction
  2. Low fees
  3. High Security

All these factors are crucial for offering a seamless shopping experience to online customers.

Quote by David Cox on BTC payment for ecommerce businesses

Data shows that bitcoin users are between ages 25 to 44 and predominantly male. But it’s safe to say that we’ll see this demographic broaden in 2021. So ecommerce businesses that offer BTC payments will attract a broader range of customers and have fewer abandoned carts next year.

Key Takeaways

  • Bitcoin is under the spotlight as a payment method in ecommerce.
  • Bitcoin users are between ages 25 to 44 and predominantly male.
  • Ecommerce businesses that offer BTC payments will attract a broader range of customers.

9. Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

In 2021, there won’t be an app for everything because there is a game-changer in the ecommerce industry. Progressive web apps refer to websites that provide a seamless app-like experience to customers and we’ll be seeing more of them in the future.

You might be wondering, “but wait, why not have an app instead?”

Well, first of all, it can be quite costly and time-consuming to build a native mobile app for most ecommerce businesses. Moreover, it disrupts the shopping experience when a customer is asked to download an app when they were just ready to pay and leave.

Instead, investing in a PWA can be a more effective way of enhancing the customer journey and avoiding bounce offs — especially for small businesses. 

There are certain characteristics of a PWA that elevates the user experience:

  1. Fast and reliable page loads
  2. Responsive and engaging web features
  3. Lightweight across multiple devices including mobile 
Quote by Mahesh Haldar on PWA

And it’s a no brainer to invest in mobile in 2021 as mcommerce is projected to reach 54% of digital sales worldwide

Key Takeaways

  • PWA is a powerful alternative to native apps for small ecommerce businesses.
  • Characteristics of PWA involve speed, engaging web features, and usability across multiple devices.
  • Mcommerce is projected to reach 54% of digital sales worldwide by 2021. 

10. Cross-border ecommerce and localization

And last but definitely not least, two of our favorite ecommerce concepts: cross-border ecommerce and localization. There are no borders in the ecommerce world and we’ll be seeing more businesses going global in 2021. 

Cross-border ecommerce received its fair share of the immense growth of ecommerce in 2020 and cross-border sales saw a 21% increase between January and June 2020 as compared with the same period in 2019.

Stat on cross-border ecommerce growth in the US by Global-e

Although cross-border ecommerce offers attractive opportunities for merchants, it requires more than translating your website to thrive globally. Translation is the necessary first step to reaching international audiences but localization is what it takes to truly conquer them.

By definition, localization is adapting a product, service, or offering to a specific market so that it makes sense and feels familiar to the target audience.

In addition to translation, it involves things like:

  1. Adapting images, videos, and graphics,
  2. Adjusting content to suit cultural preferences,
  3. Converting to local currencies, units of measures, and formats.

The ultimate goal here is to make your target audience feel like your content was made specifically for them. And this effort definitely pays off as content that is locally targeted has six times more engagement than posts that were designed for the global market.

Stat on localized advertising campaign performance by Mindjumpers

For those who want to dive into the lucrative world of international ecommerce, this video linked below is a great place to start!

Key Takeaways

  • Cross-border sales saw a 21% increase between January and June 2020 as compared with the same period in 2019.
  • Translation is a necessary step for reaching international customers but localization is needed to truly conquer them.
  • Locally targeted content has six times more engagement than posts that were designed for the global market.

So why wait any longer to take advantage of the cross-border ecommerce growth? You can easily translate and localize your website with Weglot right now and get a head start in this ecommerce trend!

Here is your link to a 10-day free trial of Weglot!

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