There is no denying that 2020 was the year for ecommerce, with online orders accounting for as much as a third of all UK retail sales in May. Research conducted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development confirmed that the pandemic “…accelerated the shift towards a more digital world and triggered changes in online shopping behaviours that are likely to have lasting effects.”
Consumers in emerging economies have made widespread shifts to online shopping and in places like the United Kingdom, USA, China, Germany and other EU nations, consumers are shopping online more frequently – with many intending to stick to ecommerce even when life returns to normal.
At such an exciting time for ecommerce, what can we expect over the course of the next 12 months? Experts suggest these are set to be the biggest trends of 2021…
A greater number of payment options
Most online shoppers are used to being presented with a choice of cards to pay with when checking out but, with more and more of us opting to buy online, we could soon see an even wider choice. In addition to offering more card options, PayPal and digital wallets, services which offer to split the cost of payment over a set number of months such as Klarna could also become the norm.
Widespread use of messaging apps
Adobe’s official Cyber Week figures confirm that there was a 20% year-on-year increase in online spend; significantly, over 41% of that spend occurred on mobile devices, an increase of 7.4% on the previous year.
It’s clear that in addition to feeling more comfortable buying online, shoppers are increasingly using their mobile devices to check out. In deference to this trend, we could well expect to see mobile messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp playing a greater role in the e-tailer and consumer relationship. It would be more convenient for someone browsing on their smartphone to send a quick message asking a product-related query via WhatsApp than it would be to fill in a contact form so, consider this is a communication channel you could integrate with your online offering in the coming months.
AI and VR experiences to become more prevalent
Many industries have responded quickly to embrace the growing importance of ecommerce in 2020. Next year, we could see this mature further with increased use of AI and VR experiences to replicate traditional in person shopping. The automotive industry is a case in point. While you can now buy a brand new car online in a virtual showroom from the likes of Mercedes-Benz and have it delivered to your door without ever having set foot in a dealership, there is the potential for AI and AR to further elevate that experience with immerse virtual test drives for example.
We are already seeing some organisations experiment with this potential; London Fashion Week used VR in place of in-person catwalk shows in September for example. Expect to see much more innovation and experimentation in this area over the course of 2021.
Click and Collect and Buy Online, Pick Up in Store
Lots of studies have identified that delivery options such as curb side pickup and click and collect have experienced heightened levels of demand during the pandemic. Offering the customer this flexibility makes a great deal of sense for ecommerce retailers so both options are something that are expected to be more widely available from a greater number of online stores in the near future.