6 e-commerce trends retailers should know in 2021

Many are opting to shop online instead of in-store to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

By U2B Staff 

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The e-commerce industry is evolving as the pandemic has sped up changes across several verticals. This acceleration is expected to continue in the same capacity as we move deeper in 2021, and beyond.

Every day, more and more retailers are making the switch to online retailing, and several entrepreneurs are seeing these platforms as lucrative opportunities. Statista confirms this, projecting that by 2022, e-retail revenues will grow to US$6.54 trillion, up from $3.53 trillion in 2019.

If you’re hoping to start getting traction or get more than you already are, keeping up with the latest trends shaping the industry is crucial.

Here are six trends every future and existing e-commerce retailer should know about:

Voice commerce will take charge

Consumers are increasingly relying on voice assistant devices such as Amazon Echo with Alexa and Google Home with Google Assistant. They use these tools to do virtually anything, from looking up recipes to waking them up every morning. Making purchases online is no exception.

Loup Ventures says 75% of U.S. households will have smart speakers by 2025. According to WordStream, voice commerce sales are anticipated to reach $40 billion by 2022.


Another reason voice commerce is on the rise is the growing accuracy and convenience of the technology. Both Google and Amazon are pushing regional languages in their virtual assistant devices to help consumers shop more conveniently.

Therefore, it is essential to optimise your online store for voice search to keep customers happy.

Augmented reality will enhance the e-commerce experience

Augmented reality (AR) has been a complete game-changer for e-commerce. This technology enables shoppers to truly see the item they’re shopping for, which ultimately helps them make up their minds. 

AR really changes the shopping experience in specific industries, such as fashion and home decor — increasingly important for those staying home to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19. 

“Polls have shown some really powerful numbers in regards to AR too: 35% of people say that they would be shopping online more if they could virtually try on a product before buying it, and 22% would be less likely to visit a brick-and-mortar store if AR was available via their favorite e-commerce store,” says Michael Prusich, Director of Business Development at 1Digital Agency.

Artificial intelligence (AI) will remain a game-changer

According to Juniper Research, online sellers will spend $7.3 billion on AI by 2022. AI acts as a virtual associate by offering personalised guidance and recommendations to online shoppers. The technology does this by analysing each shopper’s past purchase history and browsing behavior to show them products they are more likely to purchase. Similar to AR, AI is a tool that will enhance the online shopping experience.


More payment options will emerge 

Every seasoned retailer will tell you: convenience is key. Payment options are one of the main reasons why customers choose a specific brand. If an e-commerce store does not support a customer’s preferred payment method, chances are they will look elsewhere.

As of now, most e-commerce businesses accept digital wallets such as Google Pay, Samsung or Apple Pay, and PayPal — as alternatives to debit or credit cards. Cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, have many benefits for online shop owners, such as low transaction fees and irreversible transactions.

For example, Overstock partnered with Coinbase, a Bitcoin platform, to allow customers to use Bitcoin as a payment method. In 2021, many are expecting e-commerce businesses to start accepting cryptocurrencies and other up-and-coming methods for transactions.

Mobile commerce will boost e-commerce sales

As more become comfortable with online shopping, they might feel more comfortable making purchases using their mobile devices as opposed to laptops and desktops.

Statista predicts that by the end of 2021, mobile devices are expected to make almost 73% of total e-commerce sales. Furthermore, 30% of online shoppers are likely to abandon their carts in the middle of shopping if they find out a website is not mobile-friendly.

As an online seller, focusing on improving the customer experience for mobile users to gain more traction.

Sustainability practices will become more influential

Green consumerism is rising rapidly and retailers need to act quickly to stay relevant and competitive. Customers are looking for products that have been produced in an eco-friendly way that preserves the environment or involves recycling.

According to Harvard Business Review, 65% of consumers say they want to buy products from purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability. The focus on green consumerism is a clear indicator that e-commerce brands that prioritise sustainable practices will dominate the market in 2021 and beyond.

Major e-commerce brands have already started planning to implement these practices. For example, world-leader Amazon has pledged to bring its carbon emissions to zero by 2040.