5 ecommerce trends you need to know for 2021 (based on Linnworks research)

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Today’s ecommerce marketplace continues to grow at an astounding rate. This growth has resulted from a remarkable shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — creating an ‘always-on’ experience for consumers. 

Because whether it’s through web, mobile, or voice search, consumers are almost always open to shopping. Such a significant level of growth brings new challenges and new ecommerce trends for retailers. And what’s the expectation that stems from such a shift? For retailers to provide a seamless shopping experience from beginning to end that focuses on convenience.

Ecommerce trends in a new age of retail.

Retailers still have a lot to learn to keep up with consumer behavior changes and invariable demand. Based on a shopper survey on the effortless economy conducted here at Linnworks, we’ve identified five significant ecommerce trends that retailers need to know to succeed in today’s competitive market:

  1. Convenience is king — For 76% of shoppers, convenience is their top priority.
  2. Production of a seamless customer buying journey is critical — 81% of shoppers are looking for a frictionless, cross-device ecommerce buying experience.
  3. The prioritization of social and marketplace third-party selling — More than four in five shoppers like shopping on social channels.
  4. Seamless and flexible payment options speed up decision making — Nearly nine in ten shoppers say seamless and flexible payment options speed up their purchasing decisions.
  5. Delivery convenience is a key purchasing factor — 95% of shoppers revealed convenient delivery options are a major factor in making purchases.

Convenience is king.

When the abrupt shift from the in-person shopping experience occurred in 2020, the online marketplace faltered but continued to endure. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, 84% of consumers now rely on ecommerce more heavily than ever before.

So what did consumers begin to value most as this shift took place? The convenience of their buying journey. As we highlighted earlier in the article, 76% of consumers now feel that convenience is the top priority in selecting a retailer. 

Retailers are rewarded with return customers when they provide an easy, shopper-oriented experience. 90% of shoppers responded that they prioritize using a trouble-free online store. Customer convenience is no longer just an option — it’s a necessity.

When it comes to a hassle-free buying experience, customers expect:

  1.  A guest checkout option: The fewer forms customers need to complete, the better.
  2. Cross-device seamless shopping: The capability to start shopping on one device and carry that journey across a smartphone, tablet, or computer without interruption.
  3. Shopping information stored for future purchases: The choice to save data for further purchases that personalizes their buying journey — without being forced. (Yes, even with the guest checkout option.)

Production of a seamless customer buying journey is critical.

For consumers, a seamless buying journey is now the minimum standard expected of online retailers. And this construct is all based on that same idea of convenience. 46% of consumers surveyed responded they’re even willing to sacrifice cost for convenience. 

Plainly stated, if every touchpoint is frictionless and convenient, customers will keep coming back. Two in three shoppers surveyed reported they’ve abandoned a purchase over complicated search and checkout features. Moreover, 58% of consumers have stopped using an online store altogether because they’re too difficult to use.

As part of a frictionless journey, retailers need to focus heavily on offering an easy search feature and uncomplicated check-outs to keep customers from abandoning their carts.

What happens when retailers get it right? Brands that have provided the now expected frictionless, omnichannel shopping experience are rewarded with higher valued sales, typically of unplanned purchases. So not only do consumers prioritize these retailers over others, they continually return, and they spend more money.

The prioritization of social and marketplace third-party selling.

The ‘always-on’ shopping experience means that purchasing often takes place while consumers are engaged in other activities. They may not be actively or intentionally discovering new products, but 70% of consumers shop while multitasking. 

As a result, shopping while multitasking has paved the way for another trend that undoubtedly will continue to rise — social commerce. Social commerce is the marketing and subsequent buying and selling of products through social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

When it comes to multitasking, shopping while scrolling through social media, or social commerce, continues to gain traction. One in three consumers has purchased an item while on a social platform. And of those who haven’t yet, 27% are open to the idea of social shopping. (Millennials and Gen Z are now 39% more comfortable buying items directly on social sites.)

So what does the rise of social commerce mean for retailers? Shoppers have made it clear they want to discover new products on social sites, and three out of four shoppers expect a brand to offer integrated checkouts within the platform itself. (71% would rather complete a purchase on a social site than exit to a retail site.) 

Facebook leads in social commerce as the most trusted of the social sites. And 67% of social commerce purchases are made on their platform. If a retailer can’t market across every social channel, Facebook should be the primary focus.

Social commerce isn’t as simple as posting a photo of a product and hoping to make a sale. To capitalize on social selling, retailers also need to offer shoppers the option to purchase that item within social channels without redirection to the retail site itself. Customers who are unfamiliar with a retailer’s site are more likely to abandon their purchase altogether because it’s unknown — making it less trusted than the social site they were on previously. 

Seamless and flexible payment options speed up decision making.

Convenience in ecommerce retail goes beyond buying products across multiple devices on multiple channels. It’s a concept that retailers need to apply end-to-end. If the final steps in the purchasing process don’t offer convenience through flexibility, shoppers are more likely to abandon cart.

Flexible payment options are becoming increasingly popular for retailers to avoid abandoned purchases. Four in five shoppers now expect “buy now, pay later” payment options that offer the flexibility to purchase without having to do more than enter an address and press a button.

When retailers meet this consumer demand and simplify the check-out experience with flexible payment options, they’re likely to see some benefits, including:

  • Larger purchases: 89% of shoppers are more likely to make larger purchases
  • Impulse buying: 70% of shoppers have made impulse purchases when offered a flexible payment option. 
  • Faster decision-making: 89% of shoppers say it makes buying decisions easier and faster. 
  • Big-ticket purchases: 84% of consumers are more willing to purchase big-ticket items.

Delivery convenience is a key purchasing factor.

The ultimate freedom of ecommerce is the choice to have products delivered to your door or pick them up at the physical store. In fact, 95% of consumers say delivery is a crucial factor in making a purchase. 

The rise of free delivery by conglomerates like Amazon has given way to the expectation that this should be standard practice by all ecommerce retailers. Nine in ten consumers want free delivery — even if it means a longer wait. 

Consumers also expect total transparency by way of openness and honesty regarding delivery costs and timing. At the end of a buying journey, if a retailer isn’t transparent in their delivery methods (such as providing details about the cost of shipping and estimated delivery date before the customer makes a purchase) almost two-thirds (72%) of consumers have opted to abandon a purchase.

Meeting consumer delivery expectations also affects more than only a single purchase. 62% of consumers are more likely to remain loyal to retailers who are open and honest about delivery costs and timing. To help ensure loyalty, retailers should be transparent and communicative about delivery expectations before checkout and the delivery itself during the checkout process and throughout product transit.

The new age of retail is identified almost exclusively by convenience. And the key to success in today’s ecommerce marketplace is for retailers to connect with busy customers across multiple properties by providing a seamless, omnichannel buying journey end-to-end. Retailers who keep up with the ‘always-on’ shopping experience and offer a frictionless buying journey based on these new trends rooted in customer convenience will be rewarded with customer loyalty and significantly more, higher-priced purchases.