eCommerce Digital Marketing Snapshot 2021: 4 Trends On the Rise

Last Updated April 28, 2021

📖 This post is part of a blog series overview of The Digital Marketer's Almanac 2021, an essential guide for every marketing professional.  We will cover critical topics from this resource to help SaaS, eCommerce, and Lead Generation marketers think strategically about the year ahead.

As more and more people are stuck indoors and skeptical about even visiting the grocery stores where produce is usually handled by other customers in a store, the rise of eCommerce has been phenomenal for shoppers seeking items ranging from essential goods to anything and everything. 

Graphs showing the growth of eCommerce and the market share among platforms for eCommerce

In 2021 alone the projected growth is estimated to be $407 million. In 3 years’ time, this number is projected to escalate to $476.5 million. eCommerce brands, now’s your time to shine!

Moment of growth - GIF

We’ve identified four eCommerce trends we’ll be keeping an eye on in 2021: social commerce, augmented reality, dropshipping, and free shipping. How will you incorporate these trends (or not!) into your digital strategy this year?

Using Social Commerce to Boost Sales

Social commerce is simply funneling your customers directly from a social media platform. In fewer words: you’re catching your audience where they already are. Rather than sending a buyer to a landing page and hoping they make the purchase, you’re able to get the buyer to browse, review, and purchase items all within the social media platform. The reason it works so well is based on a number of factors, such as being able to directly communicate with all of your social media opt-ins--you’re effectively reducing friction for customers. 

Remember that 51% of millennials, the soon to be the dominant market around the world, prefer to browse for products or services they need via social media. But more than that, 84% of all online shoppers will always look for and read a social media review (we all know that’s where people go vent, but it’s also where influencers that buyers trust are serving up their reviews) before purchasing your product. 

Interactive Tech in eCommerce

One of the downsides that people often debate between going the eCommerce route vs. the brick-and-mortar route is that with eCommerce businesses, you’re not able to hold and inspect a product. You have to trust a picture taken from a certain angle with a certain lens that does not magnify the fine print on the packaging. 

Ulta GlamLab screenshot

Interactive technology (sometimes called augmented reality) is the answer making waves in the eCommerce industry. This tech allows you to have a complete view of the product and experience it the way you would in person. Check out the example of Ulta’s GLAMlab above. Users can upload their own photo, use a live image, or use a model’s face to “try on” different products to help them overcome doubts about making a purchase. 

Selling Directly from the Warehouse

Some eCommerce brands have opted to ditch even the more traditional direct-to-consumer retail model for dropshipping. Dropshipping means a store doesn’t hold any physical stock. Instead, they process orders directly from customers to be fulfilled by a third party that will ship the product to the customer.

Pros for dropshipping

  • Low-budget way to start selling.
  • Can be a less risky investment than D2C models.
  • Lower overhead costs. 

Cons for dropshipping

  • Words best for fad/trendy products, but not necessarily long-term essentials.
  • Customer experience is out of your hands.
  • If you’re just an order-taker, you don’t have much to build a strong brand around.

We have mixed feelings about dropshipping, but there’s no doubt that this model is popular among many eCommerce start-ups. 

Free Shipping

Brands have started to take notice that customers convert faster with free shipping offers, and why shouldn’t they? Especially if they can find an option equivalent to one of your products that will come to their door for free.

With more and more people offering free shipping, consumers are weighing spending money for shipping or time/fuel to go to a particular store vs. not paying anything and getting a product on their doorstep without moving a muscle (well, except for the thumb muscle). 

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