ECommerce Trend Guide for 2021

The recent development in eCommerce seems very substantial, even without considering the consequences of the pandemic. A lot has happened in recent years on the scene – new technologies replace old ones; project complexity increases. While some practices remain the same, only optimized, others need to change completely. Let’s see how eCommerce is set to develop in 2021.

One of the changes with noticeable significance is customer expectations and behavior. Online users have gone through a lot of development themselves. Customers are now more tech-savvy and demanding.

What’s more interesting than people getting used to using technology, is them becoming dependent on it.

Naturally, when people feel the convenience that new tech inevitably brings, it’s tough to go back to the old ways. Once comfort becomes part of people’s immediate environment, they naturally learn to treasure and appreciate it. The delicate relationships between the customer and technology have always been a fundamental factor for sales, but it has never changed so drastically before. What is should be the B2B in the coming decade? Is it about strengthening the sales and marketing pipelines, or do we need to be on the look for something else?

The evolution of the shopping journey

About three years ago, people still relied on brick-and-mortar stores, just like they did for centuries earlier. eCommerce was at an earlier stage, but the user experience was only as valid as previously in face-to-face commerce.  Even small shop owners recognized the role of user experience in terms of their business needs and possibilities. The customer’s shopping journey was often part of discussions about improving competitive advantages.
The transition to an online store seems too big for most owners, a bit too complicated for the tech-shy. Solid planning stood behind the success of online markets. To translate an offline business into a successful online business powered by an eCommerce app was – and still is – an incredibly exceptional trait. Yet, very few companies can claim they completed such an achievement. Reaching global coverage without too much investment or risk has never posed better opportunities and for more entrepreneurs.
Veteran businessmen suggest that if the idea for doing business online is there, it should be nurtured to life. If the project idea supports a real opportunity, starting small is the way to go. Almost every business that grew into a globally recognized brand started small. Having a good business sense and a plan is a good start.
Starting small reduces the risk and the profit margin. Low-risk projects are not very lucrative at first glance.  However, they prove that taking the first step is much more critical than investment analysis or risk calculation. If the first step doesn’t fail, the opportunity for taking the next step apprises.
Customer-centric approach has never been a wrong bet in any commercial project. Detailed customer profiles is now a strong strategy that most foreseeing companies included as a part of their toolsets.

Conversion Rate in the Spotlight

By around 2018, most eCommerce owners have investigated the idea of online shops, looked into ways to optimize their mobile presence, and kept a close eye on how user interface and customer behavior develop. Millennials – already claimed over most of the purchasing power their parents used to have – have influenced the way new tech in eCommerce adapts online business to match their lifestyle and expectations.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is crucial for customer retention, and sometimes, and sometimes to staying alive in business overall. Knowledge on user behavior had exclusive power over that rate, and everyone who recognized this early kept their looking glass fixed on the customer.
Driven by the global reach available through mobile commerce, marketers managed to attract a big chunk of traditional buyers into an attractive environment that online shopping quickly became. Offline customers remained a factor, but digital sales took a new priority. They only grew in numbers, so did the need for effective online channels.
Eventually, marketing experts coined the term omnichannel services. They were right about bundling channels because this is how effective product coverage. The collective effect of using multi-channels is what gives omnichannel such significant leverage. Omnichannel services pair extremely well with the increasingly popular mobile usage, and through it the

The Value of Omnichannel Coverage

Brick-and-mortar store customers have a short-lived exposure to the products they shop for. Even for the everyday necessities, they shop regularly. Once shoppers step out of the shop, the mere thought of shopping leaves their minds. On the flip side, online shoppers practically never leave the shopping area. With smartphones in our pocket, most of us are an easy target for many advertising efforts, up-sale tactics, product promos, and more.
We are exposed to enticing offers that are waiting for us just a swipe away. Mobile presents a convenient digital channel with easy access to potential customers. With such a low information flow threshold, however, it is easy to step out of line. Even the craftiest advertising campaigns can result in people blacklisting their newsletter. Religiously following up on customer feedback remains a proven method used to avoid being shunned by your clients.
Everyone serious about their eCommerce know about the power behind omnichannel delivery and started using high-end AI techs like machine learning to extend their competitive edge further. Repetitive online orders are getting automated, and online support is now backed by powerful features like helping bots, smooth voice search, or intuitive on-screen animated tutorials. Customer-oriented eCommerce solutions had the necessary years of experience to finally merge content and commerce into one, maximizing product promotion and presentation.
The influential tech stack behind solutions like headless commerce or PWA has elevated the digital experience quality for customers to a next-level state, drastically changing the fast-developing online business landscape. With eCommerce moving to mobile at a steady pace, it is a matter of time before progressive apps step on the scene as the new kids on the block owed some respect.
When B2B Marketplaces become part of conversations in the board room, possibilities for creating business partnerships with peers came as a natural self-organization trend that kept a close look on market development. B2B marketplaces emerged to fulfill a present need.  Few of our most recent completed projects reveal the importance of communication channels between marketers with common goals.
Successful B2B marketplaces are complicated to maintain since there will be discrepancies between all the various stakeholders who get to cast a vote in the mix. We think B2B marketplaces have yet to find an efficient way to unite businesses and businesspeople. The need for such collaboration has ripened and we those who planned their partnerships well, will reap the benefits.

eCommerce in times of stagnation

This year, people had visibly adopted digital lifestyles that helped shape the eCommerce façade we know today. Just as mobile devices and the population’s digitalization were on a steep rise, we got stuck with the pandemic. A rare case of an extreme situation where the phrase “social distancing” no longer carries that prescribed negative connotation. With most people stuck at home, the need to do more things online naturally emerged.
The virus epidemic is a timely reminder of how fragile human beings are and enforces new values that will linger for long and will inevitably influence the shaky course of eCommerce developments. A face-to-face salesperson used to be the etalon for excellent customer communication. Both parties prefer the online alternative and find it not only the more comfortable option but safer. Never before did sales strategies needed a complete changeover.

2021: What’s next for Online Business

Despite the grim present, we see the spark of improvement around the corner. 2021 has a few exciting opportunities to look for. Let’s review them.

eCommerce is here to stay

eCommerce is not an alternative to local outlets and shops – it comes as the necessary sales channel that used to be a secondary option. The best chance for online sales projects, even startups, is to plan to get an online outlet. Start small, aim big. For all future eCommerce entrepreneurs, the enticing solutions will be those flexible to adapt to turbulent changes.

Headless commerce

One of the principal signs for the rapid evolution of eCommerce is the Headless approach. Splitting the front part and back-end of applications creates such immense freedom of expression, it’s hard to be ignored by crafty investors. Headless commerce welcomes the liberating API-first approach, quickly endorsed as a preferred component in business logic.

Progressive Apps

Since Steve Jobs once suggested that web apps can have native feel and fast input response. Today, four years after the term PWA entered online experts’ vocabulary, this tech still hasn’t reached the high point of its indented power. This only means that memorable moments are yet to come. With performance and speed capabilities from the future, we, as digital users, are excited about the cross-device standards possible through this tech.
2020 wasn’t the year PWA boomed, although it would have been a rightfully deserved circumstance. We can blame it on COVID-19, but thanks to the delay created by the pandemic, all late adopters of PWA now have the unique opportunity to catch up with the tech. Progressive apps will be part of our future, helping us get the flawless mobile experience that someday will turn into a base standard. We expect this process to kick-off with a steady click sometime later this year.

Omnichannel Services

Omnichannel coverage is much more useful than multichannel. A multichannel approach puts more focus on the individual channels seen from the perspective of the seller. Omnichannel brings a unique shopping experience, optimizing the sales process from the customers’ viewpoint. Mobile apps play a huge role in the omnichannel method since user activity on hand-held devices is also an excellent source for many incredible features like detailed product recommendations, voice-driven interfaces, or personalized push messages.
The technical difference between both approaches is minuscule, but in effect - humongous. Customers who feel comfortable using the environment their vendor creates are those who potentially also pledge loyalty. Once you recognize which channel resonates best with your customers, you have a clear plan for your next marketing campaign.
Industry leaders like Amazon and eBay have used this approach with incredible success. It works not because these companies have the funds to make even a failed project a success. It does because customers like the astonishing consistency of services they see across every channel. Big eCommerce providers run on the back end with just as much detail on inventory data as it has on customer personal preferences and expectations.

The verdict

Our predictions cover the proximity of a couple of years. What happens this year and the following will determine the new shape of eCommerce for years to come. With a steady flow of emerging technologies, advancing online business in the coming years will be more about picking the right team than finding the correct means.
What got us thus far was the uninterrupted focus on satisfying our clients. Customer-centric strategies put particular emphasis on components like shopping experience, smooth navigation, personalization. These are all variables with a reserved place in the future of digital sales. They never fell off the radar. They just became much harder to maintain and improve. We are excited to be part of these business dynamics, and we will continue to cover further developments.

Like this article? Please rate it!

Author

David Dorr, Head of eCommerce

David is the Head of e-Commerce at CodeCoda where he is responsible to lead several teams of eCommerce specialists. In his previous role as a data scientist for London Metropolitan Police, he was developing deep learning NLP algorithms as part of the Crime Prediction initiative. He then switched over to combine AI with e-Commerce.
He received a B.Sc in Physics from the University of Surrey, Guildford in 1996. With this scientific background, he switched relatively early in his life towards Neural Networks and e-Commerce and has ever since been fascinated with what AI and Machine Learning can do for Online Commerce.