As the stats tell us, 2020 accelerated e-commerce growth, and the future looks more than promising. Forced to stay home and/or adopt remote work, a great number of people jumped to the Internet for online shopping. According to Forrester, 7 out of 10 shoppers said that their online shopping has increased, because they couldn’t leave the house (source).

Shifts in purchasing behavior and attitude made it possible for some top trends to gain momentum. But there is also another thing that enabled the growth of those trends. It’s rising competition among merchants. It fueled those trends too. The point of entry is low for e-commerce market. Anyone can open an online store and start selling online. That’s why business owners look for other ways to attract customers. Let’s see what they are.

What are the top e-commerce trends for 2021?

Most of the trends we’re about to show you won’t be new to you. Yet ignoring them now might do you disservice. If you follow our blog, because you are a Shopify merchant, you can quickly incorporate those tips into your company.

A list of major 2021 e-commerce trends:

  • mobile commerce
  • buying local
  • direct-to-consumer business model
  • social commerce
  • video marketing

Let’s explore what 2021 e-commerce trends mean for your business.

1. Don’t underestimate mobile traffic

Mobile commerce, or m-commerce is not a new phenomenon. It has been popular for a while now. Nonetheless, a large group of customers, for a long time, has been hesitant to shop on mobile devices. The global pandemic, universal adoption of responsive site design, and new mobile payment methods made people more comfortable to start shopping on their mobile devices.

Shopify trend report for 2021 shows that 40.6% of people state that they will use mobile payment more confidently than they used to before.

global web index survey results

As Hootsuite informs, the latest data from GlobalWebIndex shows that roughly three-quarters of the world’s Internet users buy something online each month and more than a half of them buy something on the Internet.

e-commerce activity overview

That’s a behavioral shift right there in the open and a sign that we should be interested in small-screen devices and design challenges that they entail. When our Shopify agency designs themes for mobile, we run tests to check user experience. Similarly, if you use a ready-made theme from Shopify library, you can have a certainty it was designed with different screen size in mind.

Advice for Shopify users: M-commerce is booming, so make sure your store is ready for it. Investigate your store performance on mobile, especially image loading time. Mobile visitors hate visual clutter, so aim at making your store neat and tidy, so it invites the user to scroll through a page without overwhelming him or her with information. Examine what Google Analytics tells you about traffic from mobile. You can get a lot of useful insights from it.

2. Focus on selling locally

Accenture’s 2020 Covid-19 report brings our attention to the fact that during the times of uncertainty the love for local is growing (look at the fourth column on the picture below).

accenture consumers research results

We have reasons to believe that this trend will continue in 2021. Consumers want to show their support to local entrepreneurs. It’s furthered by the growing distrust for big companies which seem to be anonymous and stripped of local roots. That’s actually an advantage for Shopify merchants who run independent shops.

Advice for Shopify users: Advertise locally too. Be proud of your origins. Add a location to any Instagram picture that you add. Show that you’re connected with the local community. Don’t forget to add an “About us” page to your site. It may help you even if you sell internationally.

3. Embrace direct-to-consumer business model

The Internet and targeting options has made it possible to access most customer groups with ads, PR, and social media and lead them to the main website. There’s no need to involve any third-party to drum up successful sales records. They can sell products directly to customers through low-cost channels like social media or a Shopify store.

What is more, some big names that have become huge in their industry, originated as niche D2C brands (especially beauty and sportswear brands) that sold their products without putting them on the shelves of huge multibrand stores. All they needed to achieve that was to establish an Internet presence through working with influencers or accruing large social media following.

The surprising thing about those brands is that they go from online to offline, creating popup stores or permanent locations where customers can visit, hangout, and hopefully, buy their products. This had earned itself a name of O2O – online to offline, and we described it a bit more in the blog post about Shopify Point of Sale feature. Check it out.

Advice for Shopify users: Direct-to-consumer trend shows us one important thing. It underlies the power of branding in creating loyal customers. You don’t need to open a physical location, especially in those uncertain times, but what you can do to utilize this 2021 e-commerce trend is transforming your store into a hub for your brand. Check if every channel that you have creates a unified experience, explore user journey, work on lead scoring. Make sure you have enough data about your customers to serve them the best experience you can.

4. Keep investing in social shopping

Shopify pays great attention to social commerce. It seamlessly connects with Facebook Store and Instagram Shopping, making the inventory and orders management a seamless experience. A lot of merchants are satisfied with those features. If you are late to the party, we can tell you that the best time to experiment with social shopping is now.

There’s no doubt that social media is for entertainment. Users, nevertheless, are positive towards discovering brands and products on those platforms. Instagram now have a special tab just for shopping and even YouTube experiments with product recommendations. Likewise, more and more brands flock to TikTok. If you connect it with the trend to shop local, it makes sense to encourage shopping on Facebook and Instagram, especially since it is expected to grow (graph below).

estimated US social commerce sales

Advice for Shopify merchants: You can integrate your shop with social media right from the start, but don’t expect much success unless you work on your profile’s reach and credibility. Build a loyal following, connect with your audience and use a Gary Veynerchuk’s approach of Jab, Jab, Right Hook (it’s also the title of his book on social media strategy) to have the greatest impact on sales quota.

5. Make video your superpower

The world is becoming more and more visual. It doesn’t mean that people don’t appreciate a good book. Certainly not. But it means that we search for new methods of presenting products, such as video. Using video on the homepage of your Shopify store may imbue your products with life, add a proper mood, and thus, build a strong first impression. Why not try it? Especially since 95% of marketers claim videos have helped increase user understanding of their product or service (source).

state of video marketing survey results

Advice for Shopify merchants: Video marketing doesn’t need to be limited to social media marketing or a homepage. Copy leading brands and use it on your product page. If you need technical support with adding video to your site or any other Shopify development help, our agency is here to help you. Contact us.

What’s your opinion about e-commerce trends for 2021?

We predict that we will see even more e-commerce growth. It’s hard to change habits over the span of ten months, yet we’re optimistic about it. How does your shop compare against major 2021 e-commerce trends? Let’s see them again. The biggest trends this year are,

  • mobile commerce
  • buying local
  • direct-to-consumer business model
  • social commerce
  • video marketing