eCommerce User Experience

Top eCommerce Trends in 2021

eCommerce store owners need to consider how these eight emerging trends might help or hurt their competitiveness in 2021 and beyond.

Working in the eCommerce space, it can be challenging to keep up with emerging trends. Getting on board with the trends in eCommerce that you can leverage to stay competitive should be your goal in 2021. Your business needs to adapt β€” not react β€” to consumer preferences, platforms, and technologies as they change. You may not have time to do all that research and analysis, however. Fortunately, we've done some of the work for you! Here are our insights and advice about how you might benefit from eight emerging trends in eCommerce today.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

1. Emphasis on brands ℒ️

The Trend: The Shopify platform has simplified the online store creation process. This means that competition in the eCommerce space has skyrocketed. Many business owners also source their products from the same suppliers. As a result, they will engage in price wars that drive down profit margins.

Our Advice: You can, however, command higher prices if you are seen as a unique, premium brand. That's why building your brand is more important in 2021. Merchants must approach eCommerce as a serious, full-fledged business and not a get-rich-quick scheme. Focus on making your customers happy, and build a strong reputation within your product or service industry.

πŸ™‚ Who It Helps: Stores with developed brands or the potential to develop one. Businesses with unique, premium products or services.

😬 Who It Hurts: Stores without developed brands or commonly found products with a lot of competition. Businesses that compete on price. Dropshipping businesses may be especially affected.

2. Fast shipping πŸ“¦

The Trend: Amazon has normalized fast shipping times. This is bad news to drop shippers using suppliers from overseas. Customers will get worried if their products do not arrive promptly. They may fear you are a scammer. They will be more likely to call their credit card company and initiate a chargeback. The resulting fees will hurt sellers’ profits.

Our Advice: To keep customers happy, business owners need great supply chain management. If possible, work with domestic suppliers to decrease the number of potential problems. Let customers know that their order is coming with regular updates before delivery.

πŸ™‚ Who It Helps: Stores with local or domestic sources for their goods. Anyone who can optimize their shipping and fulfilment process. Businesses that have a close, positive relationship with their customers.

😬 Who It Hurts: Stores without developed brands or commonly found products with a lot of competition. Businesses that compete on price. Dropshipping businesses may be especially affected.

3. Augmented reality πŸ₯½

The Trend: Shoppers can use their smartphone camera to see how a new pair of glasses will look on them. They can virtually try on clothing without leaving their homes. They can also visualize what a new sofa will look like in their living rooms. In the past, some clothing shoppers purposely would buy five outfits and returned three. Augmented reality will help decrease that behavior β€” and retail return rates. Frequent shipping hurts businesses’ bottom lines. With Augmented Reality (AR), fewer shoppers will return items. They will know exactly what they are going to get when they place their order.

Our Advice: Retailers, especially in clothing, should get in front of the AR trend and offer it to their customers. If you have high return rates, ask if AR could help reduce them.

πŸ™‚ Who It Helps: Potentially retailers, especially those with high returns. Those who make good use of Augmented Reality in their store's user experience.

😬 Who It Hurts: Stores that don't offer AR to customers who come to expect it.

4. Forecasting tools πŸ“ˆ

The Trend: Being an online retailer can be stressful. Sellers have a hard time gauging demand before ordering from a manufacturer. This is risky because the product may flop. Sellers will lose money on their investment. Imagine knowing exactly how a product will perform from the beginning. Software tools in 2021 are making this possible. Technology companies are hiring statisticians to analyze the sales history of different product categories. Sellers can understand the average monthly sales and competition profile of a product. They can use this information to strategically decide if a product is worth adding to their portfolio.

Our Advice: If predictive analysis might help you pick winning products to sell as a retailer, look into it. It's not just for big enterprise eCommerce. Check out Advanced WooCommerce Reporting – Statistics & Forecast, Demand Forecasting for WooCommerce β€” and Shopify Inventory Planner, and Sales Analysis for WooCommerce. Learn more about order forecasting with Shopify here.

πŸ™‚ Who It Helps: Retailers β€” large and small.

😬 Who It Hurts: Nobody! Forecasting demand is good for everyone, but if you don't do it, you are probably already hurting. If your inventory and fulfilment management is bonkers, your costs will be too.

5. Influencer marketing πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ€

The Trend: Influencer marketing works because consumers want to learn about β€” and often buy β€” the products their role models use. Many people love watching videos of others unboxing merchandise and giving their honest opinions.

Our Advice: Online retailers should reach out to influencers on Instagram and YouTube to promote their products. (And consider using video ads on social media.) Do not just look at how many followers someone has to determine their influence, however. Research real engagement metrics, such as the number of likes, comments, subscribers, etc. Approach influencers with authenticity and maintain a good relationship with them. They pose some risk as a source of negative influence if the relationship is poor.

πŸ™‚ Who It Helps: Anyone selling products or services that are popular β€” or could become popular β€” with online influencers.

😬 Who It Hurts: Retailers who get on the wrong side of an influencer or significant product review.

6. Mobile shopping πŸ“±

The Trend: The smartphone has revolutionized commerce. People can use their phone as a replacement for their desktop computer. They can check out the latest deals while lying down in bed. Therefore, sellers should make sure their stores have a pleasant β€” and fast β€” mobile experience. Make sure the colors and fonts are readable on a smaller screen. Optimize loading speeds to decrease website bounce rates.

Our Advice: Retailers should take a mobile-first approach to their site design, customer experience, and social media marketing. Consider adopting an Omnichannel strategy.

πŸ™‚ Who It Helps: Online retailers, especially those redesigning their site or just starting out.

😬 Who It Hurts: Existing stores with a poor mobile experience and slow hosting.

7. Sustainability ♻️

The Trend: Shoppers understand that human consumption is impacting the environment. Our dumpsters are filled with plastic bags, used merchandise, and old clothes. Much of the garbage gets into the ocean where it hurts marine life. Shoppers are reluctant to contribute to these problems. They do not want to buy from companies with unethical waste disposal practices.

Our Advice: Sellers with sustainable business practices will be able to acquire more customers. Look into the full life cycle of the products you sell. You might recapture value by accepting returns for products at their end-of-life. You can charge more for disposal services, carbon offsets, and other green eCommerce services.

πŸ™‚ Who It Helps: Retailers with sustainable products and business practices. Store owners who can answer customer questions about waste positively and find efficiencies in green solutions.

😬 Who It Hurts: Retailers who have no answer for customer questions about sustainability.

8. Financing options πŸ’³

The Trend: Some consumers do not like paying off an expensive item all at once. They prefer to make gradual payments over time. However, credit cards have annual percentage rates that can change. Affirm and other fintech companies provide customers with alternative financing options. Instead of charging compound interest, these firms underwrite loans using simple interest.

Our Advice: Merchants should add these financing options to their online stores because they will give customers more purchasing power. Affirm has partnered with the Shopify platform and WooCommerce to help merchants implement these add-ons.

πŸ™‚ Who It Helps: Retailers with expensive products and customers who prefer to pay in installments.

😬 Who It Hurts: Nobody loses when customers have more ways to pay, but pay attention to the transaction fees. πŸ’Έ

It pays to be resilient and adaptive

Resilient companies are flexible with their operations. Entrepreneurs who keep up with the right trends for their businesses will be able to grow β€” in 2021 and beyond.

Partner: GoDaddy Pro

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By Dan Knauss

Dan Knauss is a writer, editor, speaker, and teacher. He's a long-time WordPress freelancer who enjoys helping people use digital publishing effectively. Dan also blogs about disability, neuropathy, neuromuscular disease, and medical research at