15 eCommerce Trends Every Online Seller Should Know in 2021

When Amazon made its first sale (for a book) online in 1995, we didn’t see the direction eCommerce was heading. 

Ecommerce sales in the US are ever-growing. According to eMarketer, it’s expected to hit $6.5 trillion by 2025. 

Whether you’re selling digital or physical products online, you need to always keep an eye on the trends. 

This will enable you to get more traction, drive more traffic to your website, increase sales, and better position your brand to win.

So what are the latest eCommerce trends?

The truth be told, eCommerce reached an all-time demand in 2020, given the effects of COVID-19. This acceleration is expected to continue as we move into 2021 and beyond.

That said, here are 15 eCommerce trends every seller should know in 2021:

1. Mobile Shopping is Expanding

Your customers want to shop conveniently via their mobile phones. Hence, it’s important to improve their shopping experiences. More so, since it’s estimated that over 73% of eCommerce sales will occur on mobile devices by the end of this year.

These figures should inspire you to embrace new mobile technologies and customer service tools to help maximize your sales.

Today, consumers trust brands to deliver quality products and services. Ecommerce brands such as Home Depot3Wishes, and Zappos deliver the best products and offer fair refund policies.

Consumers feel more comfortable today when they shop online via their mobile devices than ever. Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, use computers, mobile devices, and the internet a lot. 

So you can understand why mobile shopping is growing.

2. Young Consumers Are Transforming The Online Business Space 

According to this study, 2 out of 3 young consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 are spending more money to purchase items online now than they did before the pandemic hit. 

They increased their online spending by 57%.

In contrast with the older generation: consumers between the ages of 55 and above, whose online spending increased by 41%. 

That said, it’s important to pay attention to this younger generation of shoppers. These shoppers are not as naive or indecisive as you might think. They make most of their shopping decisions without asking their parents, friends, or spouses for permission.

They can get all the information they need from online resources or learn from online learning and tutoring platforms such as Udemy, Skillshare, etc. 

Therefore, you need to start optimizing your eCommerce store and products for them if you want to increase your sales potential.

So where can you find the younger consumers? You need to consider social media networks. 

Gear your efforts towards social media marketing — since more than 50% of young consumers who purchase items from independent brands get recommendations via social media.

3. Conduct Robust Customer Experiment 

This eCommerce trend is a wake-up call. If you’ve not been following your customers closely, it’s time to start paying attention to their needs and wants.

Conducting rapid customer research helps you to identify key opportunities for serving your audience better. 

Big Light’s Rapid Customer Research Infographic

Steve Borges, the co-founder of Big Light, believes the most effective way for retailers to keep pace with the ever-changing customer needs, preferences, and behaviors involves engaging in rapid customer research to drive innovation.

In Borges’ words, “Retailers are operating in an environment where change is the only constant.”

Essentially, driving innovation that will impact customer experience is going to be more relevant this year and beyond than ever. 

Brands need to laser-focus on the customer needs, which means listening to customers and taking feedback to help design their concepts better.

Whether you’re operating your eCommerce business through a remote working team or you meet in-person, it’s important to start listening to your customers. They’re the reason why you’re a brand in the first place, so give them attention.

4. Connect Using Social Commerce

Your customers are on social media, so you need to be there as well. 

Effective social selling can reward your team building efforts if you encourage every team member to spread the word via their social profiles.

Successful eCommerce stores are active across different platforms and channels, and reach customers where they’re relaxed and spending more time. 

Customers are taking bold steps due to the pandemic, in ways they shop on the internet. “Merchants need to get creative with how they engage with customers today,” says Alli Burg, Shopify strategic partnerships manager.

Burg predicts that social commerce will grow in 2021 and beyond. Her predictions are based on several factors, especially the big announcement that Shopify made in 2020 to develop deeper integrations with Facebook, Google, and more recently TikTok.

Facebook Shops, for example, allows brands and individuals to design a customized online storefront — to aid customers who are looking to buy products via Facebook and Instagram apps. 

Interestingly, the checkout is powered by Shopify. This is a new development in the eCommerce space, and hopefully, you’ll take advantage of it. Here’s a good example:

5. AI and AR Will Improve Online Shopping Experience

How much do you spend online? Are you leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) to improve your sales online?

According to Juniper Research, online sellers are expected to spend $7.3 billion on AI by 2022. At the end of the day, AR technologies will be used by 120,000 stores to enrich customers’ buying experiences.

AI will be beneficial to consumers, in particular. Because it can offer personalized guidance and recommendations while they’re online. Thus, giving the customers the same experience they usually get in-store.

Artificial Intelligence can use the shoppers’ past purchase history to recommend products they’re most interested in and more likely to purchase. For example, web hosting providers such as Bluehost, DreamHost, and even WPX Hosting track visitors on their websites and use their browsing data to retarget them.

On the other hand, Augmented Reality (AR) will enable customers to inspect products before they checkout successfully. The customer can see and feel the product they intend to buy — purchase completing their purchase. 

As you implement AI and AR in your online sales strategy, you’ll increase your conversions dramatically and decrease the return rate. 

More so, with advancement in customer service tools such as predictive dialer, phone calls can also be used to convince customers to complete their purchase while they’re still on the website.

6. The Emergence of New Payment Options 

As an online seller, you need to embrace new payment gateways. Currently, most eCommerce brands accept wallets — such as Apple Pay, PayPal, Google Pay, and Samsung), in addition to the typical debits and credit cards.

In 2020, we’ve seen a surge in Bitcoin payments. This trend is going to get stronger this year and beyond. 

It offers tremendous benefits for online sellers, such as low or zero transaction fees and no reverse transactions.

Smart online stores are already capitalizing on this new payment gateway. For example, Overstock partnered with Coinbase to accept Bitcoin as a payment method from its customers.

This year, be prepared to see many online stores integrating cryptocurrency payment options at scale. 

This trend will also provide extra layers and guide online shoppers on how to stay safe online, while using this new payment option.

7. Dynamic Pricing Will Gain More Attention 

Did you know that dynamic pricing offers a viable way to attract new customers and stay competitive? “It’s a tailored pricing strategy based on individuals’ willingness to pay,” says Matter Economics.

The right pricing model can significantly increase the demand for a particular product. If you don’t price your product correctly, you’ll discourage sales and push your customers away.

The right price is mainly the ideal price your customers are willing to pay based on what your product is worth. You also need to consider what price will offer you the maximum possible profit.

Source data

As consumer needs continue to change, it’s valuable to use dynamic pricing software — such as Prisync or Omnia Retail to determine the best price for your products. 

Most of these tools provide a ton of resources and real-time insights into your market, competitors’ prices, demand, and the perceived value of your product to help define a benchmark pricing that will make everyone happy.

8. Consumers Are Embracing Environmental Topics 

Truly, green consumerism is gaining traction. Brands need to recognize this movement and key in. 50% of digital consumers say that environmental concepts drive what items they spend their money on, and where to buy them.

Creating sustainable practices can help an eCommerce brand to stay afloat and relevant in the consumers’ minds.

When developing an online sales strategy, make sure it’s environmentally-friendly. 

For instance, if you sell products on Amazon FBA (Fulfilment By Amazon), then imbibe the practice of sourcing products from fair-trade vendors, manufacturers, and organizations. 

This is a great way to create a greener eCommerce space.

9. Consumers Will Buy More From Independent Businesses 

The truth is that consumers’ shopping habits have changed.

In a study conducted by Shopify, 57% of consumers are willing to purchase from new brands. They want to take that first step to establish a connection. Isn’t that amazing?

From all indications, online shoppers are switching to independent and small businesses that were affected by the pandemic. Even medical companies that deal with empty capsules and other related products are recording consistent sales already.

They want to support them. 37% of consumers prefer to shop with independent businesses to support them, than they did during the pre-COVID-19 era.

Most independent brands offer quality customer support. That’s why consumers are making this shift. There’s also a growing interest in unique products and hand-crafted items. 

For example, over 2.2 million Etsy sellers saw an increase in daily sales during the pandemic, especially as some of them pivoted towards homemade face masks.

10. Personalization is the Future

Personalized online experiences drive sales. That’s exactly what 50% of shoppers want to see when they visit any online store.

If you want to create the best customer experience, you can’t afford to treat your audience like everyone else. They deserve to be recognized and appreciated.

Online shoppers will likely switch to another store if they get poor product recommendations. Remember that recommendations are driven by the consumer’s purchase history or browsing behavior.

You need to take personalization more seriously. 

From the eCommerce emails you send out to your customers to the online campaigns and information you share with a consumer group to your interactive infographic and video content (use a video maker like Promo.com to speed up the process), make them relevant and personalized to your customers.

11. Visual Commerce is Dominating  

The human brain processes visual information 60,000X faster than text. That’s why the future of eCommerce is visual marketing.

Selling products online comes with a ton of challenges. With online sales, there’s no physical interaction with the consumer. That’s why it’s tough — unless you use visual commerce to engage your buyers.

Visual commerce is the next generation of typical static visuals. Companies that sell mattresses, now utilizes interactive elements in their creatives to engage with buyers a lot better. 

Good sleep is critical, hence, online sellers in this industry should get creative with visual commerce, especially when running ads. 

Savvy online sellers no longer use static product photos, they usually incorporate other types of visual elements — such as interactive content, consumer-generated media, engaging videos, and augmented reality.

If you’re looking to boost your online sales, it’s high time you tap into this visual commerce trend. Here’s why: 

75% of online users in the US search for visual content before purchasing a product online. So you have the chance to make more sales from your marketing efforts if you tap into visual commerce.

12. Creative Advertising Strategies Will Grow

There’s a growing trend in the use of 3D and CGI in advertising. It all started in 2020, particularly in the beauty industry. 

Fran Boyd, art director at Shopify Plus agency Underwaterpistol, believes this trend will continue in the new year.

Needless to say, these creative means of advertising products and services online prove to be more cost-effective than traditional advertising strategies.

When you capitalize on CGI animations, you create an avenue to be able to edit and improve the final result in multiple ways.

Now that COVID-19 restrictions are causing teams and crews to work remotely, CGI projects have become the go-to option for modern-day advertising. They’re also smoother to organize.

Another great example of creative advertising in eCommerce is how Ciaté London used an outside-the-box strategy to promote their new makeup range. 

As you can, the promotion was simple. The team projected a large smiley face onto the Houses of Parliament in London and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.” This happened on World Emoji Day!

It gave people the chance to smile at such a tricky time. Excitedly, consumers loved the approach and the organization saw significant results from this campaign.

13. Online Purchases Will Include B2B Products 

2020 was a record year for disruption. Several companies emerged to help curtail the pandemic with hyper-focused products and services. 

Many businesses evolved in their digital transformation efforts amid global changes. Zoom became one of the best webinar software to host online meetings — since employees couldn’t meet at the office.

Consumers had fewer or no alternative options for buying the products they needed. They turned to online stores to find all of the products they needed.

While food, fashion, gadgets, and other essential items were prominently purchased online, they weren’t the only items people needed. 

Consumers started placing orders for furniture, vehicle parts, and even luxury items used by business executives. . 

These changes in consumer preferences and buying habits may gradually slow down now that people have resumed their normal routine, but the trend will continue to grow.

B2B eCommerce brands are expected to shift their marketing strategies — because customers are not only buying items they need for themselves but what their teams and families need in their home office (for example). 

They can leverage B2B portals and tools such as Hotjar to better understand which sections of their website are being clicked.

As an online seller, make sure your products can be purchased online. There’s no excuse. 

14. Self-Service Platforms Will Gain Greater Popularity 

Self-service platforms have become part of our daily lives. It all started in 2020 when small businesses and solopreneurs tapped into digital opportunities to reach their target audiences. Self-service portals are truly the way to go!

This year, platforms that deploy and allow merchants to sell products online conveniently, without having to write codes or hire expensive developers will thrive.

So, how can you take advantage of this eCommerce trend?

You can integrate your online store with platforms that can help you sell your products with all of the essential tools you need. 

Platforms such as Kajabi, Kartra, and Shopify can help you set up product pages, create funnels, and accept payments from international customers. 

You can also use sales enablement tools to power your sales processes when selling to a global audience.

15. Influencers Will Become Brand Partners

Smart eCommerce businesses are leveraging influencers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn to promote their products. 

And the influencer marketing industry is huge, it’s valued at $9.7 billion in 2020.

If your brand doesn’t like to create content (which is key to generating brand awareness and driving sales), you can tap into the huge fan base of your favorite influencers and celebrities.

In 2021, many established brands and small businesses will resort to influencers as content creators. They’ll also promote the products on their social accounts.

This form of digital advertising can be easily tracked since the influencer can create high-converting landing pages where interested fans can visit to learn more about the offer. This process will be quick, since they can create responsive landing pages with free landing page builders as quickly as possible.

Ecommerce brands can also take advantage of the new features that most social media platforms provide. The algorithm tends to reward businesses that utilize these new features. 

For example, Instagram Reels often generate more organic reach than regular posts or stories. So whenever a new feature is announced, get on board and experiment.  

Conclusion 

With the evolving trend in eCommerce technology and changes in the consumer shopping habits, you need to stay abreast of these eCommerce trends in 2021. 

Keep in mind that no trend is superior to the other. Regardless of the trend you decide to adopt, make sure your focus is on improving the customers’ shopping experiences when they visit your online store. 

You should only implement new trends when you’re looking to establish stronger relationships with your customers. While it’s important to make profits, it should be your key driver.

Selling on Amazon vs eBay: Which Is Better?

Online Shopping is seeing year after year growth.  In fact, Retail e-commerce sales worldwide are forecast to nearly double between 2016 and 2020.  If you’ve thought about selling online, now is the time to ride the e-commerce wave to boost revenue.  But which online marketplace should you invest your time, resources, and products?  Should you diversify or go all in on one?  While there are several online marketplace options to sell, we’ll specifically be comparing selling on Amazon vs eBay in this post.

AMAZON SELLERS VS. EBAY SELLERS

In this year’s letter to shareholders, Amazon announced that, “Over 300,000 U.S.-based SMBs started selling on Amazon in 2017.” That’s a lot of new sellers on the platform, and that doesn’t even capture the individuals sellers and larger brands who are all rushing to list their product in Amazon’s ecommerce catalog.

Amazon Sellers

Amazon’s brand awareness as the go-to online store with lightning fast deliveries and excellent customer service draws shoppers like a giant consumer magnet. And that makes it very appealing for sellers. So appealing that many sellers on the platform do not sell their product anywhere else. But with more and more sellers jumping on the platform, competition has increased. And that means customer expectations have increased too.

It’s not enough to ship a product from your garage and have it arrive a week after purchase. Customers want their orders at their doorstep tomorrow. And they want that product to be quality. If it’s not, one bad review can knock down your rating and potentially your conversion rate and your ranking.

Overall, what this more competitive landscape means for the type of sellers on Amazon’s platform is that they are becoming more and more higher-caliber. They are becoming more and more competitive. Those who succeed and win a good ranking position know how the platform works, and they know how to succeed.

eBay Sellers

eBay sellers on the other hand span a wider range. Unlike Amazon, there are not large brand names on the platform. But there is a wide spread of seller types from large, competitive sellers with some brand recognition to the online-yard-sale individuals who are selling single items they are trying to get rid of.

While Amazon sellers battle the high expectations of customers on the Amazon platform, eBay sellers battle quite the opposite: the idea that all items on eBay are used or second-hand. This is probably one of the reasons that eBay sellers list their products on multiple marketplaces. eBay attracts a different kind of customer too, which lends it to certain products more than others.

AMAZON CUSTOMERS VS. EBAY CUSTOMERS

In the selling on Amazon vs eBay discussion, both have unique customer bases that set them apart and make them more or less favorable to certain products. Before you decide where to list your product, you’ll want to make sure that there is good demand for it with the customers on the platform.

Amazon Customers

Amazon is the most popular online store in the United States, according to Statista. It has by far the largest market share for ecommerce. So who are these Amazon customers? Compared to customers on other ecommerce platforms, they are generally more educated and more well-off than the average American. Here are the four most distinguishing traits of Amazon customers:

  1. Younger. According to Digital Commerce 360, over 50% of Amazon shoppers are under the age of 45. Prime customers tend to be even younger than the average Amazon shopper, with 18 – 34 being the most Prime-heavy age group.
  2. Higher Income. Amazon customers are predominantly male and tend to have higher incomes. Amazon captures 90% of the 50 – 100K income shoppers, and 89% of the 100K+ shoppers. And even for shoppers with an income under 50K, Amazon still captures 73% of the market.
  3. Bigger Spenders. Prime members are especially keen on Amazon’s free 2-day shipping and tend to buy more than non-Prime members. And with Prime membership in 64% of US households, that means Amazon customers are spending more on the platform than ever before.
  4. Trust the Amazon brand. Amazon customers trust the Amazon brand for quality products, timely delivery, and excellent customer service if anything does go wrong with an order. Amazon customers are also sometimes unaware that they are even purchasing from a seller at all. Thinking rather that they are purchasing “an Amazon product.”

Overall Amazon has captured most US shoppers, especially those under 45 years old, making over 50K. And since their customers do tend to be wealthier, they come with higher customer expectations. This is especially true of Prime members, Amazon’s biggest shoppers. The Amazon brand is one that customers deeply trust and masks the marketplace experience for customers by providing them with fast shipping and incredible customer service.

eBay Customers

eBay, though not as popular as Amazon, continues to be a big player in ecommerce. According to Statista, “In the first quarter of 2018, eBay reached 171 million active users.” And though smaller than Amazon’s customer base, 171 million is still undeniably significant. Here are the four most distinguishing traits of eBay customers:

  1. Older. eBay customers tend to be older than Amazon customers, with 61% over the age of 45. Like Amazon, they tend to be mostly male.
  2. Medium income. While an exact income range for eBay customers is hard to pin down, it seems to generally be lower than the average income for Amazon customers.
  3. Deal hunters. eBay customers also tend to come in with the expectation that they will pay less for the item they are looking for. While Amazon used to be a lot more competitive on price, customers, especially Prime customers, seem to be willing to pay more for the convenience of 2 day shipping and a wide-reaching catalog.
  4. Less trust in eBay brand. eBay customers do not trust in the eBay brand name in the way that Amazon customers trust the Amazon brand name. Rather, they trust the brand of the seller they are purchasing from. The expectations for customers satisfaction are put on the seller rather than on eBay as the platform.

Overall, eBay is still a significant size market that is more popular with older shoppers, especially those over 45. Since their customers tend to be of average means, they are more motivated to find the best price and pay less for the item they are looking for.  eBay customers are much more aware of eBay as a marketplace than Amazon sellers and trust the brands of the sellers they purchase from rather than eBay’s brand.

AMAZON PRODUCTS VS. EBAY PRODUCTS

The types of products that customers buy on Amazon and on eBay are different. Each platform has its own strengths and draws shoppers for those specialties. It’s important to know these comparisons when weighing up selling on Amazon vs eBay.  

Amazon Products

Amazon’s catalog has 562 million products in its catalog with Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry being the biggest category by far. Amazon’s top selling categories are:

  • Consumer electronics
  • Home and kitchen
  • Publishing
  • Sports and outdoors

eBay Products

eBay’s catalog has well over 1 billion live listings. According to the site, some of its best selling products include:

  • Electronics
  • Fashion
  • Video games
  • Collectibles

While both sites sell electronics and fashion items, Amazon sells far more books than eBay. Amazon also sells more Sports and Outdoor equipment whereas eBay sells more collectible items. Shoppers looking for unique, vintage, or antique items will look to a platform like eBay. And shoppers looking for books, outdoor equipment, and items that they need to arrive quickly will look to Amazon.

AMAZON FEES VS. EBAY FEES

As we look at fees in the selling on Amazon vs eBay comparison, the associated fees are a crucial factor.  We’ve written a fuller blog focused on Amazon seller fees, but we’ll give an overview of both here.

Amazon Fees

Amazon fees vary depending on how the item is sold. There are two main ways to sell a product: as an individual or as a professional. An individual is anyone selling less than 40 items a month. Think college students selling their used textbooks. Professional sellers are those looking to supplement or replace their income, including retail arbitrage sellers, online arbitrage sellers, wholesale sellers, and private label sellers.

Individual Seller

  • Per-item fees
  • Referral fees
  • Closing fees

Referral fees depend on product category but are typically 15% with a minimum fee of $1.00. See the full list of referral fees by category here. Closing fees are $1.80 per item sold and apply only to media items such as books, DVDs, music, software & computer/video games, videos, and video game consoles.

Professional Seller

  • Professional account subscription
  • Referral fees
  • Closing fees
  • Shipping fees (if applicable)

A professional seller account is $39.99/month and replaces the per-item fee charged to individual sellers. Referral fees depend on product category but are typically 15% with a minimum fee of $1.00. See the full list of referral fees by category here. Closing fees are $1.80 per item sold and apply only to media items such as books, DVDs, music, software & computer/video games, videos, and video game consoles. Some professional sellers use Amazon’s fulfillment program (Amazon FBA) to store, pack, and ship their products to customers. FBA has its own fees, which you can see here.

eBay Fees

eBay fees are seemingly less complicated than Amazon fees. But eBay is set up for individual sellers with individual items more than it is set up for sellers with multiple skus (stock keeping unit) and multiple items for each sku. There are two main fees that eBay charges sellers:

  • Insertion or listing fees
  • Final value fee

The insertion fee works a little differently depending on how you are selling your products. If you are selling individual products auction-style, eBay gives you 50 free listings per month with a $0.35 insertion fee after your 50th item.

If you are listing a product with a fixed price and hundreds or thousands of items in stock, eBay will charge you an insertion/listing fee up front and every 30 days until all items sell out or you or eBay closes the listing.

The amount you pay for this insertion fee is calculated based on what eBay calls the total start price of the listing. The total start price is the sale price of the product multiplied by the number of items available for sale. So if you’re selling a $15 t-shirt and have 1,000 on the listing, the insertion fee will be based on a start price of $15,000.00.

The other main fee that eBay charges is a final value fee. The final value fee is a percent of the final amount the buyer pays, including shipping and handling but not tax. Final value fees are typically about 10% with a cap of $750.00. So if a customer purchases all 1,000 of your $15 t-shirts, your final value fee would be capped at $750.00 rather than being the full $1,500.00.

eBay also charges a few additional fees:

  • Listing upgrades
  • Select category fees

Sellers have the option to pay small fees for listing upgrades like bold font, subtitles, international site visibility, dual category inclusion, Gallery Plus, and Listing Designer. These fees depend on the price of the item and the duration of the upgrade. See all options here.

eBay also charges additional fees for items sold in certain categories, including motor vehiclesreal estate, and select business and industrial items.

Who Should Sell on eBay

Because eBay is a smaller marketplace, it is a great way to get your feet wet with e-commerce. You can start selling on eBay with a lot less money, and drop shipping is a viable option. Customer expectations on eBay are lower, and eBay as a platform is more lenient when it comes to requirements for listing your product and customer satisfaction.

Who Should Sell on Amazon

Because Amazon is a bigger marketplace, it is more competitive. That means the cost to compete is higher but also that the reward for success is higher too. There are thousands of product markets that see healthy sales every month where competition is still low. And if you are lucky enough to find one of these markets, the rewards for performing well on Amazon are greater than they will ever be on eBay.

If you have a smaller budget and are thinking of drop shipping, Amazon is probably not the place for you. With high customer expectation, Amazon has strict requirements for their sellers. If you find yourself with too many unhappy customers and late orders, you could be off the platform.

But if you have a bit more of a budget to work with and are looking to sell a large volume of products to a large audience (especially if you are looking to utilize Amazon’s FBA program), selling on Amazon is the way to go.

Recap

Selling online is a huge opportunity for business entrepreneurs.  As you research selling on Amazon vs eBay, you’ll want to know the buyer demographics, marketplace strengths, fee comparisons, and the seller options available to you.

  • Amazon buyers have generally higher income and are younger while the average eBay buyer is older and looking for a bargain.
  • eBay is more lenient with a lower barrier of entry while Amazon is more competitive but with a higher potential for sales
  • eBay has fewer fees than Amazon and will generally be more profitable but requires you to be more hands on with the whole process.
  • Amazon buyers expect higher quality and faster shipping while eBay buyers sometimes assume the products are second hand or less quality.

 

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