Our ecommerce predictions for 2021

The growth in ecommerce in 2020 has been astonishing. Fueled by Covid-19 and the closure of retail stores, ecommerce sales have skyrocketed to a level that was expected to take 10 years to unfold! However, we do not expect the increase in ecommerce to end when the pandemic (hopefully) ends in 2021. Shopping online has become an inherent part of everyday life and we’ll see a continuance of this in the coming year. Digital shopping is no longer icing on the cake. It is the cake.

More than ever, businesses are understanding that digital commerce is no longer just a sales channel, but the heart and soul of their business model in the digital age.
A new report from Mckinsey highlights that a large portion of shoppers currently are up for grabs. In fact, during Covid-19 75% of US consumers have tried shopping at new retailers or brands. Simply, their loyalty is decreasing and they opt for the businesses with the strongest digital presence and best user experience. This emphasizes how important it is to be present and relevant in the digital arena, if you want to grow your business in the years to come.
This blogpost covers 4 predictions for ecommerce trends that leading brands will adopt in 2021. 

Microservice based ecommerce setups will be mainstream

During the last 5-10 years the norm of setting up new enterprise ecommerce systems has been to commit to a particular platform and build as much as possible into the platform. For many businesses this has led to highly coupled setups that are difficult to maintain and slow to carry out new innovations due to complexity of the system.
Now a new approach is winning, where ecommerce architecture is orchestrated through a series of microservices, which are individual pieces of business functionality that are independently developed, deployed, and managed.
In this approach all functionality is exposed through an API which enables developers to quickly innovate around the front end experience, no matter if the end goal is a websolution, an app or an in store screen.

The advantages of this approach are numerous and classic enterprise ecommerce suites will in 2021 no longer be seen as the ‘safer choice’ as microservice based ecommerce setups allows companies to innovate faster and produce better customer experiences than companies stuck on monolithic setups.
For more info on this trend we recommend following https://machalliance.org/ for updates and inspiration. 

Message based ecommerce as a channel

In 2021, ecommerce business will pay more attention to finding ways to sell and market through popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Consumers are still asking for even more frictionless ways to shop and with the rise of technologies like AI and ‘conversational commerce’ it is possible to create a very seamless purchasing experience with the help of message based apps.
If we look towards China who is no doubt years ahead of the western market in terms of ecommerce, the whole process all the way from discovering a new product, buying and getting it delivered to telling your friends about it, takes place in 1 app without a classic webshop ever being visited.
I believe this trend will also become more prominent in the western world and will be an important battleground for ecommerce business in 2021 with Facebook Messenger as the most obvious step in the short term. 

CRM and ecommerce teams will make the magic happen

2021 will be the year where the cookie based tracking gets severely weakened. RIP cookies, you did a great job, but your time has come!
For many ecommerce businesses this is a hard blow since advertisement cookies are used both to retarget and find new prospects.  However in 2021 there will be no other way than adopting solutions that are both compliant with IOS and end-user privacy needs.
For the end user this is actually pretty good news as there will be a much larger focus on uniting a great customer experience and respecting user privacy.
The question many ecommerce businesses have on their mind is how to track and attribute digital marketing campaigns in a world without third-party tracking cookies? In our opinion the way forward is to invest in taking ownership of first party data by combining CRM methodologies with ecommerce marketing. 
We anticipate a lot more CRM and ecommerce implementations under a shared strategy in 2021. This approach will most likely be the leading way for companies to capture user data across devices and secure relevant marketing messages and promotions.
One of the important themes within this movement is the rise of the Customer Data Platform, which unifies and consolidates customer data from various sources such as CRM, in store devices, website, email marketing platform, and aps, allowing marketers to activate relevante automated flows across channels.

Feature based A/B testing will be the norm

Conversion Optimisation programs can be highly valuable for ecommerce business as even small design tweaks can greatly impact conversion rate and revenue. This is why we in Adapt carry out tons of A/B tests based on quantitative and qualitative insights every year.
However in 2021 it won't just be small front end and design tweaks that get tested. With Headless ecommerce setups, we are now able to A/B test completely new flows that require separate back end logic such as a new checkout flow or even completely new design experiences throughout multiple steps.

To give you an example, this is how we rolled out Interfloras new mobile optimized front end and reduces risk by only exposing the new experience to a small subset of the users with a controlled A/B test. As we could see the new flow outperformed the old we gradually ramped up the visitor allocation.

These kinds of ‘larger tests’ can provide even more value than just the simple front end A/B tests, as it is now possible to test more radical changes in the customer journey.
Winning ecommerce businesses will adopt these more full fledged conversion optimisation tests and stop relying only on simple frontend based A/B tests.
However, do not forget that customer insights is the primary source of finding winning tests. No matter what technology you are using, your first step should be user testing combined with quantitative analytics. If you need help with user testing feel free to reach out to us.

These are our most important ecommerce predictions for 2021, a year which we expect to be defining for how much and how people shop online and how businesses present themselves in the digital realm. We, at Adapt, are very excited to see what 2021 has in store (pun intended) for us and will keep our ear to the ground, so we can present you with the latest trends throughout the year. And of course, if you want to kick-off 2021 with a strong ecommerce setup, reach out to us for further talks on how we can drive the process together.

Are you ready to take on 2021 or do your Ecommerce setup need a tune-up? If yes, give us a shout.

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