Top 10 Ecommerce Trends in 2021 That Demand Your Attention
2020 has been a challenging year for many businesses as the Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) continues to change the way we function as a society.
Among some of the significant changes, retail ecommerce platforms have witnessed an unusual global traffic increase from 16.07 billion in January 2020 to 22 billion visits in June 2020 (Statista, 2020).
With the pandemic forcing millions of people to stay home, consumers have shifted to the Internet to meet their retail needs.
In Singapore, the frequency of online purchases among consumers during the pandemic is also notably high. Data revealed that Singaporeans made online purchases several times a month particularly during the pandemic (Statista, 2020).
With such rapid economic changes, business owners today are leveraging ecommerce as a platform for accelerating growth. As consumers escalate their digital needs, it is also important for business owners to keep up with the latest e-commerce trends.
This will provide benefits in 2 ways; by staying ahead of competition and allowing for more consumers to make their online purchases from the e-commerce sites.
As we approach the near end of 2020, here is a “to-go list” of the top 10 ecommerce trends in 2020/2021 that you as a business/ecommerce site owner must definitely pay attention to.
List of the Top 10 Ecommerce Trends in 2020/2021:
1. Headless Commerce & Progressive Web App (PWA) Technology
Headless Commerce is an emerging trend to tap on as an ecommerce site owner. Simply put, it helps to separate the presentation layer from the ecommerce functionality of a webpage, thus providing an App-like-Experience.
With Progessive Web App (“PWA”) technology, the appearance of a site can be matched with the application used on the device. This will allow for users to comfortably navigate the site without having to download the application, and makes it easy to amplify the quality of the site.
Some of the key reasons for adopting this technology are as follows:
- High – Speed Experience: The loading time of a site is vastly improved and its device level caching feature reduces the amount of data retrieved during the shopping experience. This will allow users to easily make their purchases without interruptions.
- Auto Updates: Unlike native applications, there is no need for updating in the background with PWA technology. It is optimised to update automatically without the need for approvals.
- Offline functionality: The smart technology of the caching feature in PWA allows for users to navigate the site with poor or even no Internet connection.
- Push Notifications: This feature informs users of the latest products, offers, and items left in the cart, in the goal of bringing them back to the site for subsequent/repeat purchases.
In the technical aspect, PWA is advanced in that it reduces the need for constant development that is usually done traditionally.
Ultimately, it also increases revenue as users can make their online purchases without hassle and are highly likely to return, by turning them into a loyal customer.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The integration of artificial intelligence (“AI”) with ecommerce sites will remain an ongoing trend.
With AI, the ecommerce site is able to predict what your customers are interested in and recommend similar or complimentary products as they shop. This entices them into purchasing more items from your site and builds customer loyalty.
The advanced tools in AI have also been proven to generate more sales and better understand your consumers. For instance, the incorporation of live chatbots in ecommerce sites has found to be a trend as more consumers prefer to query online.
The reduced wait-time for responses to queries and the interactive site engagement are therefore elements that make their online customer experience enhanced. According to SmallBizGenius, 85% of customer interaction is also forecasted to be handled without human agents by 2021.
As much as the COVID-19 impact has pushed many business owners to limit their finances, investing in AI for ecommerce platforms has a significant potential as the benefits in it can outweigh the costs involved.
3. Mobile Commerce
Mobile commerce is the next key area for focus. With increasing mobile users shopping anytime and anywhere with their smartphones, it is necessary to ensure that your ecommerce sites are mobile friendly as well.
Having an ecommerce site that looks good and functions well on desktop and mobile devices will provide a seamless experience for shoppers.
If you are in a market where mobile penetration is particularly strong (which is most of S.E. Asia), it would even make sense to have a mobile-first shopping platform.
A great way to do this is by turning your e-commerce sites into a mobile e-commerce application. The idea behind this implementation is to provide a simple, accessible and user-friendly shopping experience without the need to access laptops/desktops.
Some of the distinct advantages of adopting mobile commerce are:
- Flexible Mobile Payments: By integrating mobile wallets into the application, it gives users more options to purchase with their preferred payment methods. It is also a quick and easy way to process online transactions at users’ convenience.
- Reduced Mobile Fraud: With more mobile users, there is potential mobile fraud. Mobile applications are less susceptible to phishing scams than web browsers. It protects data from possible breaches with advanced security features i.e. two factor authorisation.
With the mobile ecommerce revenue in Singapore expected to grow to approximately four billion US dollars by 2022, it will be useful to tap into this opportunity to grow your consumer base.
This is also in relation to the fact that consumer purchase decisions can be affected from the initial consideration stage. Hence, every component in their customer journey i.e. starting from their purchase avenue should be scrutinized to achieve a smooth customer experience.
4. User Experience (UX) Design
Speaking of customer journey and a smooth customer experience, a renewed focus on UX is another ecommerce trend you cannot ignore.
Good UX design is what your ecommerce platform would need to make the browsing and purchasing process more efficient for shoppers.
A good UX design acts as a solution to prevent/reduce the number of customers leaving your ecommerce site midway. It reduces the ‘friction’ between the time when a shopper lands on your site, to the last step when they click on Pay.
It is also a fundamental area where each dollar of investment is critical to ensuring that a holistic output design is generated.
According to TechPriceCrunch, 61% of users are found to leave a site immediately if it is badly designed. This hence brings us back to appreciating the quality of a site through good design technology.
It also drives towards a “win-win” situation for both consumers and business owners, as consumer needs are addressed and the business goals are achieved.
5. Social Commerce (Online Purchase via Social Media)
Social commerce is the use of social media networks to sell products directly. Instead of the usual way of redirecting users to the site via social media marketing, social commerce allows for direct checkout within the network that is being used.
There is a rising trend in the use of social media as an avenue for online purchase. With social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram offering “Buy” buttons through their marketplace, consumers are easily attracted to make a purchase.
L’oreal, the French cosmetics company, is a good example for tapping into social commerce in their Thailand market.
With social commerce, L’oreal was able to allow its potential shoppers to purchase via Facebook, Facebook Messenger and LINE. It also allowed their shoppers to directly chat with a Customer Service Agent or a “Beauty Expert” should they need advice.
Social commerce also helped L’oreal secure customer data and strengthen the relationship between them and their customers. They were able to increase engagement with quick responses and were able to understand consumer preferences instantly.
Within 5 months, the social commerce platform saw a surge in customer engagement on L’oreal Facebook fan page, with an average inquiry-to-sale conversion rate of 22%.
Hence, it can be seen how social commerce provides ecommerce business owners with an excellent opportunity to improve the customer base. It also helps with recognition in the online marketplace and in the direct engagement with consumers.
6. Voice Commerce
Voice commerce is a non-visual shopping experience. It is where consumers interact with a brand and make a purchase through voice recognition technology and a compatible smart device.
This technology has been noted to be highly used at areas where consumers already know what to purchase; i.e. mainly for low-cost and everyday products.
Voice commerce is to be a unique trend for ecommerce business owners moving forward. The forecasted popularity for this trend has been noted to be upward scaling, with the potential to gain mass attention.
An example of a voice commerce would be a consumer making an online purchase using smart home assistants like Google Nest, previously known as Google Home.
Google Nest is a line of smart speakers developed by Google which enables users to speak voice commands, and interact with services through the company’s virtual assistant i.e. Google Assistant.
This is in line with the rising trend of voice searches using efficient smart home assistants, for the convenience of making an online purchase.
Ecommerce sites can optimise their sites for voice searches by addressing the following:
- Structure your site according to the emerging user journey: When planning your ideal user journey, consider the behaviour of voice searches. Your content has to be structured in a way that drives users from voice query interest to conversion.
- Use a Local-Approach: By bringing a local focus to your content i.e. local blogs and product catalogue, it creates an opportunity to attract the local market first.
According to Search Engine Watch, mobile voice-related searches are three times more likely to be locally-based compared to text-based searches. It is hence a good starting point to test these voice-search queries before expanding into the global market.
7. Personalisation via Big Data
If this is your first time hearing of Big data, here is a quick definition:
Big data refers to large data sets that may be analysed to reveal trends in human behaviour.
Ecommerce site owners can specifically use it to determine customer preferences, such as products that are favoured and learn the timings that consumers make their online purchases.
It is also helpful in developing shopper profiles, whereby the insights gained can be used to improve operations, which ultimately maximises profits.
With the competitiveness in the ecommerce industry, it is also necessary to include unique factors to stand out in the market. This is where personalisation plays a role, where big data can be used to generate insights on customer behaviour, and personalised experiences can be created.
Ecommerce personalisation via big data can include the following:
- Providing personalised shopping recommendations;
- Presenting targeted advertisements for different customers according to their interest; and
- Sending emails with personalised messaging and customized discounts for re-engagement.
With personalisation, consumers will feel exclusive as they have a unique customer experience to look forward to.
It also helps you as an ecommerce site owner to make the necessary upgrades to your site with a comprehensive customer profile.
You can also anticipate regular sales and easily replenish your inventory according to more accurate customer preferences via big data.
8. Subscription-based services
Demand for subscription-based services has witnessed continuous growth worldwide. It is also expected to increase in the next few years, up till 2023. (Market Research, 2019).
This forecast is mainly driven by the increasing use of the Internet and more millennials preferring to purchase via subscription-based models.
Some examples of subscription-based services in ecommerce according to McKinsey & Company are as follows:
- Replenishment subscription service – This service provides regular and recurring deliveries of consumable products to customers. This includes food, groceries and toiletries which are purchased as part of essential needs.
- Access subscription service – This service requires a membership to have access to the company’s products and gives these members additional perks.
- Curation subscription service – This service provides highly personalised experiences according to individual tastes and preferences. Categories relating to fashion and beauty, on-demand entertainment and gaming are most commonly known for this model.
As consumers’ needs shift towards regular deliveries and engagement experience, the above model is found to create higher customer value and satisfaction.
Furthermore, it can also help you as an ecommerce site owner to cut down on specific costs, make better use of time, and focus on building customer loyalty by addressing their needs more regularly.
9. Environmental Sustainability
In today’s context, going green has become a key priority for consumers, especially millennials.
Factors affecting their purchase decisions include environmental sustainability and as such, they think twice before making their purchases.
With the impact of COVID-19 and more consumers being environmentally-conscious, the need for sustainable practices has become a key area for the future of ecommerce.
Some ways to move towards a sustainable ecommerce are as follows:
- Implement sustainable shipping – The volume of items being shipped in the industry naturally has a huge environmental impact. A great way to reduce this carbon footprint is by finding eco-friendly programs that offer paperless invoicing and other green options.
Returned merchandise which contributes to carbon footprint can also be reduced by discouraging your customers from buying multiple sizes of an item for trial, and providing clearer product descriptions and sizing information.
- Reduce packaging – Packaging waste is another common problem in the ecommerce industry. As such, it is necessary to ensure that an appropriate-sized packaging is used for every single item before shipping.
- Create recycling policies – Along with appropriately-sized packaging, waste can also be reduced by opting for sustainable packaging materials. Recyclable cardboard boxes and mailers can drastically reduce the amount of waste generated.
By adopting simple sustainability practices, environmental impact can be reduced and your business can appeal to these consumers better.
10. Payment Flexibilities and Better Processing
Abandoning shopping carts in ecommerce is also a common problem in the industry. This is where a shopper leaves a site without completing his transaction during the checkout process.
According to Sleeknote, the average cart abandonment rate across all industries is 69.57%. For mobile users, the abandonment rate is as high as 85.65%.
With an increase in mobile users today, the impact on revenue due to cart abandonment is severe and should be addressed urgently.
To optimise the checkout process, it is necessary to understand consumer difficulties during their purchase journey. With that, a key reason identified for abandonment rate is the inflexibility in payment options.
To ease the consumer’s process during checkout, ecommerce site owners should look into providing more payment options with better processing.
For instance, providing local payment options and combining all payments into a single platform for global brands can assist them better during checkout.
Such payment flexibilities are also adopted by many businesses these days and as such, should be adopted by ecommerce site owners as well.
Overall, it is evident how the above ecommerce trends are proven to be relevant and will be targeted upon by more businesses in the near future.
To gain a competitive advantage, it is important as a business owner to keep up to date. It will significantly improve your operations in the short-run and stand as a good strategic move for your business in the long-run.
How can Web Imp help
Web Imp is a pre-approved Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) vendor for ecommerce websites. Eligible Singapore businesses can claim up to 80% government funding support when we develop an ecommerce website for them.
We build ecommerce solutions with that are
- User friendly
- UX design that turns shoppers into buyers
- Mobile friendly and fast
- Intuitive backend system for easy management
If you want a team that is passionate about keeping your ecommerce business up to date with trends, simply talk to our digital strategists.