2020 has been a year filled with challenges for business owners. The landscape of how the world does business, even online sales, has changed for the foreseeable future. As we move into 2021, expect some e-commerce strategies to shift as well.
Emarketer reports coronavirus as the most significant disruption of consumer retail spending in the last decade. With more people shopping from home and avoiding physical stores, e-commerce sales are expected to grow 18% by the end of 2020. Many people will continue to buy online, sending percentages on an upward trajectory for several years.
E-commerce stores need to make some adjustments now to prepare for higher traffic and more sales, and capture those looking to move from brick-and-mortar to online purchases. If you haven’t updated your virtual sales strategies yet for 2021, keep these factors in mind moving forward.
1. Prepare for Omnichannel Shopping
Many people have been forced away from in-person shopping to online methods, but they still want the ability to return an item to a local store or make an exchange on the fly. Omnichannel experiences will become even more critical than in the past.
People want to be able to shop online and pick up curbside, for example. Online retailers without a brick-and-mortar store should consider teaming up with a nearby retailer or shipping provider for easy returns.
Discount grocery retailer Aldi recently started a curbside pickup service for customers. People order via the website or an app and drive to their nearest participating store to pick up the groceries. Expect it to continue offering this service well into the foreseeable future. Customers aren’t likely to be happy if conveniences such as curbside pickup are taken away.
2. Accept Cryptocurrency
Due to coin shortages and concerns over money being dirty, more people are turning to no-contact payment methods. Cryptocurrency has been around a long time but not exactly mainstream. However, there are many advantages to e-commerce stores accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Once the person pays you, they can’t reverse the charges, as unscrupulous people might with some other payment methods. You get the money instantly, too.
3. Use Relevant Images
Advances in smartphone technology have made resolutions higher than ever before. Connection speeds are also faster than in the past and should increase more as 5G becomes commonplace. You can share a high-quality photo or video, and it streams instantly and brilliantly to the person’s screen.
Look for ways of showcasing products on your website. Engage site visitors by offering ideas on how to use the item.
San-J is a low-sodium, no-GMO, gluten-free Korean sauce company. It highlights the ways you can use its products by sharing images of amazing food. The user immediately sees how they can put the sauces into action.
4. Add Voice Features
By 2025, 75% of American households will have smart speakers. If your e-commerce site isn’t quite ready for this transition, 2021 is a perfect time to get started. Study natural speech patterns and questions people ask about your industry or product. How can you restate this question on your site and then answer it to meet user expectations?
5. Shop With Augmented Reality (AR)
If you haven’t jumped on the AR bandwagon yet, 2021 is a year you’re likely to do so. One of the advantages of shopping in person is trying on things and seeing how they fit and look. With online shopping, you lose the immediacy of buyer impulse.
However, you can get around the negatives by offering virtual try-ons. AR works better with some industries than others, so implement it as it makes sense to your company.
GlassesUSA.com features a virtual “mirror” on its website. Use your computer’s camera to try on any of the frames and see how they look with your complexion and face shape. If you don’t want to use your own image, you can try pictures of models and see how the frames look on them.
6. Go Mobile
If your site isn’t already mobile-friendly, you may miss out on many potential sales. Shoppers are more likely to abandon their cart when they realize it doesn’t work well with their smartphone, and 73% of e-commerce sales will be via mobile by the end of 2021.
7. Make Checkout Easier
Adopt simple checkout methods to improve your conversion rates. If you can implement one-click shopping, do so. Integrate your cart with PayPal and other online payment methods, so users can utilize the information they’ve already input into other systems. Allow people to hook up via Google and Facebook, so they don’t have to type in the shipping address and other personal information ad nauseam.
Urban Outfitters does nearly everything right with its checkout process. It gives you the option to use PayPal or a credit card. You can then check out as a guest without signing up for an account, choose to have the items shipped or pick them up, and even have the items sent to a UPS store or CVS Pharmacy near you.
8. Embrace Social Media
Every day more people get on social media and interact with brands promoting there. If your site isn’t hooked into your social presence, it should be. You can use these platforms to share reviews on your site, send people to articles about your products and encourage those who’ve bought from you to share their experience with others.
Your e-commerce site should make it easy to share and also link to your pages on different platforms. Offering social proof of why others like your brand so much helps encourage additional traffic. This includes Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, TikTok and other popular channels.
Pay Attention to Trends
It’s impossible to predict every new trend we’ll encounter in 2021. Pay attention to new technology releases and topics trending on social media and Google. Survey your customers about helpful changes you can implement for them.
With a little experimentation, you can take your e-commerce site to the next level and outpace the competition on every level. In 2021 and for many years to come, you’ll be on the cutting edge everything e-commerce has to offer.
Andrej Fedek is a digital marketer. He recently started his own blog about digital marketing called InterCool Studio. His passion is to help startups grow and thrive in a competitive environment.