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12 Tips from Industry Experts to Boost eCommerce Sales in 2021

Dec 18, 2020 | 15 minute read

12 Tips from Industry Experts to Boost eCommerce Sales in 2021

Rachel Tyers

Rachel Tyers, VP of Strategic Partnerships

Dec 18th 2020

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We’ve gathered twelve insights from the top ecommerce experts in the shopify ecosystem to help you boost ecommerce sales over the next 12 months

2020 has been a pivotal year for ecommerce. The coronavirus pandemic forced shoppers to venture online, dramatically increasing the market share of ecommerce sales and requiring ecommerce merchants to adapt their marketing strategy to a whole new persona.

But what’s next? Which trends will still be relevant as we head into 2021?

Read on to discover the ecommerce trends 12 Shopify experts deem to be prevalent in 2021 and how ecommerce merchants can prepare their stores for success.

1. Social retail will focus on livestreams and influencer content

“We’re banking on Livestream shopping and social retail being an even bigger e-commerce trend in 2021.

Recent news from social media leaders like Facebook and TikTok signal that it will be more important than ever to strengthen your brands’ influencer relationships. For example, Instagram just rolled out its new ‘Checkout’ feature, where users will have the ability to shop directly from a creator’s post, and companies will have the tools to better attribute revenue directly to those posts. TikTok is also booming with influencer opportunity – reminiscent of Instagram circa 2015.

Consumers will expect more authentic content from brands as social retail increasingly becomes the norm, and there’s no better way to create that content than with an influencer.”

From Sarah Grosz

Head of Influencer Marketing at MuteSix


2. Website performance metrics will put a new emphasis on consumer behavior

“2020 was the year that eCommerce blew up. In 2021, savvy retailers will be looking to consolidate that massive growth by focusing on the foundations of their online presence — their online stores and their customer and sales data.

They’ll be spending more time with analytics and customer service data to identify trends and opportunities. They’ll be working out how to better identify customers and how to connect with them throughout the buying journey, including a better post-sale experience. These retailers will also focus on their website content to pre-emptively answer questions and concerns, to help customers make better buying decisions, and to increase customer convenience with more buying options.

Perhaps the biggest trend has been the awareness of merchants of the impact their website’s performance has on customer action, including conversion. The new performance metrics that Shopify have surfaced in their admin interface have focussed merchant attention in a way we haven’t seen before. Ultimately this is great news for customers.”

From Cal Wilson

Founder & CEO at The Working Party


3. Data tracking will become increasingly difficult and granular

“2021 will continue to see a steep incline in e-retail growth. However, reporting on this performance will start becoming fuzzier and more difficult for some merchants. Cookie prevention, new privacy laws, ITP and greater ad blocker adoption on the OS and browser level will push brands to focus more on their first-party data. Customer data platforms, server-side conversion tracking and different methods to view and visualise performance will be more relevant than ever.

The brands who identify these gaps in their reporting first will have the edge on making the most informed decisions about their audience and campaigns, but also accurately track how they are performing and where they’re going.”

From Adam Sharon-Zipser

Managing Director & Founder at Elephant Room


4. Personalized customer journeys will continue to prevail

“The brands that will win big in 2021 will be the brands that create (and optimize) a personalized customer journey that gets the right offers in front of the right people — at the right time. This means using the best-in-class tools and apps to create increasingly relevant, one-to-one, end-to-end shopping experiences for your site visitors. This includes your creative, site pop-ups, Messenger opt-ins, product suggestions, and ongoing automations.

As technology advances and markets mature — we predict the brands that ignore this trend will become increasingly invisible to online shoppers in 2021.”

From Frank Reale

Client Strategy Manager – North America & Europe at Andzen


5. Clutter-free experiences will fight off increasing competition

“The past year has seen more and more retailers turning to the internet as they attempted to pivot their proposition and navigate the COVID-19 crisis – ecommerce itself became the trend of 2020. It’s no surprise, therefore, that 2021 is setting up to be a year of fierce online competition. Imagine it like the souks in Marrakech, every merchant fighting for your attention and sale.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll choose to buy from the merchant who offers a clean and easy shopping experience – I don’t mind the upsell, as long as it’s appropriate and related, not spammy. This translates into ecommerce through the application of a respectable, clutter-free, frustration-free user journey, from marketing through to sale.”

From Matt Abbott

Head of Growth at Swanky


6. Dependence on owned marketing channels will continue to grow

“The entire commerce ecosystem is increasingly realizing the benefits of utilizing tools, channels and strategies that allow them to own their data. Whether it’s competitive threat or rising acquisition cost, the risks of primarily growing through channels dependent on marketplace dynamics and ‘rented data’ are becoming apparent. Moreover, brands are seeing the benefits of having direct access to their customers. Acquisition costs are lower and by engaging in communication that uncovers the customer’s needs and wants, brands have the opportunity to foster loyalty and grow lifetime value.

In this competitive environment, brands will look toward solutions and partners that can help them listen, analyze and act upon customer data. Those who can empathetically engage in that feedback loop with their customers, consistently and at scale, will succeed.”

From Leslie Wong

Partner Marketing Manager at Klaviyo


7. SMS marketing with a side of goodwill will build loyal communities

“A lot of brands are hopping onto SMS for next year. If you want to use SMS marketing in 2021, start building your list and collecting customers now with keyword campaigns and on-site pop-ups. Each of your customers needs to opt-in to text communications from you. Brands that saw success throughout the coronavirus pandemic put a pronounced focus on building community through gestures of goodwill (like giving advice or tips alongside their products), sustainable initiatives, or doing something charitable.

We predict that brands will either continue to shift towards this strategy or double-down on it, making it profitable to incorporate in your 2021 SMS Strategy.”

From Corinne Watson

Senior Content Marketing Manager at Postscript


8. Branded currency and digital wallets will be huge

“Consumers are becoming more educated and, therefore, are constantly looking for the best deal possible. They want to buy from brands they care about but won’t mind going into corporate chains if they get a better deal. This is why branded currency and digital wallets are becoming a huge trend in 2021. Creating your own membership program using cash back store credit or points isn’t enough. Brands who offer an extra incentive for using their currency, instead of regular credit cards, will increase the loyalty of their fan base and achieve great ROI, just take Starbucks’ rewards as an example.

By creating a store credit identity you will become a part of your customers’ day-to-day routine. You will be surprised how easy it is to draw customers to your brand time and time again.”

From Nadav Berger

VP of Marketing at Rise.ai


9. Rapid support will be a must-have to tackle dwindling customer patience

“We predict customer retention will be tougher than ever as consumers become more expectant of a rapid and seamless shopping experience. Consumer patience for a less than stellar UX will be at an all-time low in 2021. The top brands will be the ones who put a premium on enhancing the UX for shoppers pre- and post-purchase. This means:

  • Creating a seamless shopping journey that feels tailored for each customer;
  • Giving customers full control over their post purchase experience for things like returns, exchanges, refunds, and leaving a review;
  • Having customer support on standby to resolve pressing inquiries.

As a customer support help desk built for eCommerce brands, we see first hand how customers’ expectations for rapid support is changing. Your support team and platform must be armed to automate many of the inquiries, so you can free up important bandwidth to give personalized responses to the biggest issues your customers face.”

From Chris Lavoie

Head of Tech Partnerships at Gorgias


10. “Headless” will no longer be a buzzword

“In 2021, “Headless” and “PWA” will no longer be buzzwords reserved for only early adopters. Decoupling the head of the eCommerce webstore (what your customers interact with) from the body (what your internal teams use for backend operations) will lead to an anti rip-and-replace movement. Traditionally, brands have been trained to believe when they reach a certain stage of growth, and have band-aided workaround solutions that may not be native to their backend, that it’s time to graduate and upgrade their technology stack to the next big thing. This shouldn’t be the case and is no longer the only answer.

Now merchants can keep their backend as-is and enhance their frontend experience all while gaining additional perks of a Progressive Web App (PWA). The added perks of mobile-first (or any kind of device for that matter), flexibility and performance, ease of expanding internationally, and the ability to seamlessly weave in product and content storytelling is now a necessity for so many merchants.”

From Amanda Kinkeade

Director of Merchant Strategy & Operations at Nacelle


11. Ongoing engagement will offer much-needed connectivity

“In 2020 we saw brands struggle to truly connect with their customers. The pandemic offered the capacity for increased sales in the short term and efficient brands took advantage of their growing customer base by connecting with them on a deeper level. In 2021, we expect that desire to connect will grow exponentially in verticals and with products that historically have not been subscription-based.

More and more brands are looking to the membership model which offers the opportunity to engage with subscribers on an ongoing basis in addition to higher lifetime values and skyrocketing customer loyalty for the merchant. Just as Peloton has shown in the at-home fitness category, look for fashion brands, coffee roasters, breweries, toy and gaming companies, and others adopting membership models.”

From Chase Alderton

Growth Marketing Manager at ReCharge


12. Brands who do the best job at storytelling and creating captivating content will win

“The key to unlocking ecommerce sales growth in 2021 is through captivating content. Increased demand for digital ad space has driven up CPMs, leaving businesses unsatisfied with diminishing ad spend returns. Powerful, resonant storytelling increases engagement, connecting with customers and maximizing sales in a way that keeps your CTRs up while keeping cost per clicks down.

A recent forecast by eMarketer revealed that marketers will spend $17.37 billion on digital platforms and apps in 2020, a nearly 40% increase from 2019. Our forecasting shows the ’21 demand for ad space will be just as competitive. Providing your customers the higher-quality ad creatives they’re seeking through photos, videos, and design will be the single best way for businesses to hit or exceed their ROAS goals in 2021.”

From Daniel Snow

Chief Strategy Officer at The Snow Agency


Set your online store up for success in 2021

2020 has shaken up the ecommerce industry and changed the way consumers interact with the brands they buy from. Engagement, social commerce, and personalization will be key in 2021. Here’s a recap of the trends we can expect to see next year:

  1. Livestreams and influencer content will dominate social commerce
  2. Website Performance Metrics Will Put an New Emphasis on Consumer Behavior
  3. Conversion tracking will become harder and more granular
  4. Personalized customers journeys will continue to be important
  5. Increasing competition calls for enjoyable customer experiences
  6. Dependence on owned marketing channels will continue to grow
  7. We’ll see goodwill gestures pop up in SMS campaigns
  8. Branded currency will become more common
  9. UX will be enhanced through rapid support
  10. Headless commerce will become the norm
  11. Subscription ecommerce will explode
  12. Brands who do the best job at storytelling and creating captivating content will win

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