What trends will we see in e-commerce in 2021?

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As we move deeper into H2 of 2020 (maybe we can just erase H1?), it seems like a good time to take a breath and consider what next for ecommerce? After the chaos of 2020, online has surely become an even bigger part of our lives, from buying groceries to booking medical tests. But what other changes will there be? What Micro trends are emerging that have the potential to explode? Here are a few thoughts….

1. Comeback for desktop?

One fascinating stat during lockdown was that in May 2020, was desktop usage over taking mobile, having lost the top spot just a few months earlier (1). As commuting was replaced by working from home, then we were spending less time on our mobile phones from station to station and more time at our desks.

Additionally, people would generally do non work related browsing when on their phone at work, but without colleagues walking behind your screen anymore, finding yourself on Asos.com for a quick shop seems less likely to get you in trouble.

girl on sofa online shopping

Whilst mobile first should continue to be the way for ecommerce sites, not least because that’s how Google will index you (2), ensuring a good desktop experience should not be forgotten.

2. Rise of the small shops

The pandemic had a terrible effect on the economy as a whole, but small shops without an online presence were amongst the worst hit. This has led to many re-considering their business model and moving to where the money is – online. One big barrier to entry used to be the cost of getting online, with an eCommerce store costing £10,000 just to start. However, now, with the growth of Wix, Squarespace and Shopify, stores can get online for less than £50. Big Brands may have the upper hand in fulfilment, but niche sites with 121 service offering will be the ones to look out for.

exited ethnic waitress working with cash desk in cozy cafeteria
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

With the rise of small shops, but the lack of sophistication of small shops doing their marketing, this could pose a problem. Enter the Marketplace challengers….

3. The Marketplace Challengers

More than 50% of online sales came via marketplaces in 2019 (3) and they are continuing their drive to dominate ecommerce. Everyone knows of the success of Amazon and Ebay, but it is other players that are springing up that have doubled down on a vertical which are the ones to watch. Discogs is a fantastic example of this. Largely unknown outside of its niche, this record dealing website has nearly 4 million visits a month from a loyal audience buying and selling from professional dealers and part time amateurs. It provides deep data on records that would take other websites years to compile.

The rise and strengthening of niche Marketplaces has great potential. Going to a specialist marketplace with buyers and sellers all there for the same purpose makes sense. Marketing can be more focused and hyper-targeting on deep interests can drive that niche. The Foodmarket.com is a marketplace focussed exclusively on Food and has had sustained growth during and post lockdown. These marketplaces were all funded 5-10 years back and have been doing it tough, trying to compete with Amazon and eBay – but the sudden rush of more customers coming online seems to have done the trick.

Whilst marketplaces are great routes to market for a small seller or even big players looking for new routes, ultimately stores are placing themselves straight into a competitive market, so it can be a lot of work for little reward. Additionally, stores do not own the customer data, so marketing tools such as re-targeting or email are not possible.

There are pros and cons to entering the marketplace frenzy, but one thing is for sure, consumers are flocking to them and it’s one to keep an eye on as 2021 nears.

4. Rentals and second hand

Who would have thought that John Lewis would be renting out sofas? That’s 2020 for you, expect the unexpected, but one can also expect to see more of this in 2021. With house prices becoming more un-reachable for the younger generation, house rental will still be as popular as ever. With working from home also being part of our lives, people are going to want to make their homes as nice as possible the ability to rent from brands they would not be able to buy from will be a winning formula.

In addition, with a plethora of rented items being returned after use, it may not be long before we see a John Lewis seconds offering, giving discounts for previously used items. Watch this space.

5. Live Video Shopping

As online grows, so do the service that is provided. Static images are no longer enough for consumers who want to know all the details before they buy. This is where live video shopping services will come into their own. A step up from the likes of Zoom, these services are allowing users to not just see but interact and transact, all within the mobile commerce website of the store. Live shopping assistants will be able to handle any questions and finally the online experience will be matching that of instore, without leaving your home.

Confer With video shopping outcomes

Already growing in China, live video shopping is very likely to become part of our shopping experience in 2021.

That concludes our thoughts on what will occur in the world of e-commerce. Let us hope the year is at least a bit more stable than 2020.

1 https://gs.statcounter.com/platform-market-share/desktop-mobile-tablet/united-kingdom

2 https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-mobile-first-indexing/346170/

3 https://www.webretailer.com/b/online-marketplaces

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