Jan 22, 2021, Business

E-commerce trends for 2021 – expect the unexpected

Aneta Skoczewska Business Consultant

Last year was hugely surprising and challenging as the whole world faced the COVID-19 pandemic. The global crisis influenced most companies and industries, but some of them paradoxically grew. One of such phenomena is e-commerce. According to experts, in 2020 the sector has skyrocketed reaching the level expected in 5 years! Growth in digitalization and frequency in online shopping made the biggest step forward in history. One of the results is also higher competition and a need for even further innovations. Want to stay ahead of others? Here’s some of the important trends to watch out for and follow in the upcoming year.

Artificial intelligence making e-commerce even smarter

Let’s start with some numbers. It’s been evaluated that presently about 42% of enterprises use at least one AI solution, a quarter of which employ not less than two types. What’s more, 18% of companies plan to adopt artificial intelligence to their processes within the next two years. 

But what does AI have to do with e-commerce?

  1. You don’t want to provide your users with things they don’t really need and desire. Thanks to artificial intelligence you can take care of a thorough product personalization and keep up with your customers’ wishes. 
  2. If you’re not aware of the essence of collecting users’ data, it’s time to catch up. Acquiring knowledge about their demographics, behaviour, and preferences can be quite valuable when it comes to choosing new technologies and tools.
  3. If clients want to contact your brand, you have to make the process as easy as it can be. You can’t afford to make them wait for hours or don’t respond at all – the competition will eat you alive. To make your customer service more efficient and satisfactory, you should take an example from companies that based it on a voicebot technology.
  4. Voice is going to play a crucial role in the search process, too, displacing the omnipresent typing and making it a thing of the past. If you’re looking for a product of your dreams, just say it out loud and wait for the results to flow. 

Don’t overlook the B2B

It’s estimated that a B2B e-commerce market is worth three times more than a B2C one. Nevertheless, until recently most of the B2B sales still took place in a traditional face-to-face manner. The digitization seemed to be a plan for an undefined future and there was no outright trigger to move a business online.

It all changed with 2020 and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. B2B companies finally noticed a need for transformation and many of them reached out for the e-commerce solutions. An additional motivation was meeting their employees needs – especially the younger ones who were used to online solutions and expected them to be applied in their workplace. Using tools from 20 years ago made their work less effective, tedious, and unpleasant. 

It’s not easy to change complex enterprise processes and actions overnight. That’s why most of the effects, especially a growth in B2B platforms development, will be visible only this year, and the trend should continue. 

Mobile commerce trends to shook our world

It may be sad but true – smartphones became an indispensable part of our world. We carry them everywhere and use them for an astonishingly vast amount of activities. They have an enormous impact on how we live and also… how we shop. What are the current trends? Let’s give it a look. 

Mobile apps outperforming mobile web

More and more customers prefer to use a retail mobile application to learn more about products and finally purchase them. Mobile-friendly websites are great but not enough – in comparison to apps, they are perceived as less convenient and user-friendly. And check out the conversion rate: it’s as much as 157% higher on apps than on websites. That’s huge!

What’s more, browsing an app, a consumer is less likely to skip to competition, whereas searching through a website entails opening multiple bookmarks with different companies’ products. In the second case, a client can be tempted by a lower price or a better suited item, leave your website and never come back. 

Mobile wins over a desktop, too

It all started with a few browses, several glances, and an outbreak of a freshly defined need – some time ago mobile shopping was reduced to searching for desired products and comparing them with others. Now, mobiles encourage us to shop away and it turns out that it works – the average order value is about 10$ higher than on websites. And what’s the most frequently used consumer’s device? First prize goes to smartphones, and the second one to tablets. Desktop stays at the far end. 

A purchase is only one click away

2021 will bring a valuable change in the e-commerce check-out process. Typing all the necessary data manually has been quite tedious which resulted in 97% cart abandonment on mobile sites, 68% on desktops, and only 20% on mobile apps. Why do applications win again? The answer is quite simple. They let their customers store the data and use them every time they’re needed, reducing the purchase process to only one click (or even one blink while using Apple Pay face recognition transaction)!

Marketplace sales rise-up

Low entry barrier makes a marketplace an effective e-commerce solution, providing a fundamental help during the times of pandemic, too. If you need to change your sales channel smoothly and quickly, that’s the easiest way to go, gaining new clients and diversifying sources of income. 

Last year, the Amazon platform was joined by 1,4 millions of new vendors – it’s as much as 3,4 thousands a day! It doubled the number of employees in many european countries and launched additional 100k workplaces during the first peak of the pandemic in the U.S. In 2021 the company is planning on entering the Polish market, too. Will it come with an outbursting revolution? We’ll see.

Anyway, the local market undergoes dynamic growth, as well. In 2020 Allegro debuted on the Warsaw Stock Exchange becoming the biggest initial public offering (IPO) in the history of the capital market. 

Delivery – getting faster and more convenient

In the last few years, we were able to observe a large growth of the PUDO (pick up, drop off) solutions. Our client, Polish logistics company InPost, increased the number of parcel lockers from 6 to 10 thousands which inspired other delivery businesses to implement similar solutions, as well. 

The PUDO development has been highly influenced by consumers’ habits – they value convenience and want to decide where and when to pick up their parcels. The 2020 Gemius report stated that the most frequently chosen way of collecting packages in Poland is using self-service machines. It applies to 61% of the responders!

Another thing is the speed of delivery. Consumers expect a package to be delivered within 2 days and their expectations grow towards the same day deliveries. At present, the solution is quite rare but it may become a crucial consumer’s requirement in the following years. Both e-commerce and logistics companies have to be on guard. 

Moving grocery shopping online

E-grocery is anticipated to finally put its roots down in 2021. Although till now, it was hard to imagine buying everyday goods online, the pandemic once again changed it all. Thanks to our newly shaped customs, the e-grocery market is said to grow to more than 40% in Europe this year, increasing its shares to 2,7% in e-commerce and up to 1,1% in the whole FMCG sales, and achieving about 500 millions of euro in revenues. In comparison, it was about 250 millions of euro in 2017.

Summing up

The times of lockdowns, retail closures, and travel bans made e-commerce a king of 2020. Both consumers and companies had no choice but to adjust and move their activities online – some of them for the very first time. And there’s still a lot of work to be done. Not all businesses have the proper infrastructure to deliver the best, hi-tech customer experience. 

But don’t worry. That’s actually our thing and we are always excited to help. Just let us know what you need!