How to Boost Ecommerce Sales in 2021 & Beyond | LimeLight Marketing

How to boost ecommerce sales in 2021 & beyond

7 ways to increase online sales in the digital landscape

In the following sections, you’ll discover what you need to do to drive ecommerce sales in 2021 and beyond, with actionable tips you can start putting in place right away. You’ll also find three examples of businesses like yours that have boosted their online sales throughout 2020 and explore just how they did it.

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COVID’s impact on online shopping & how it’s changing ecommerce

In mid 2020, ecommerce penetration in the U.S. grew by a mind-blowing 10 years in a 90-day period, with global ecommerce totalling $4 trillion for the year.  

  • Amazon sales increased by 38% in 2020, reaching $386.1 billion
  • Audible increased 567% year-on-year for visibility growth
  • Shopify’s fourth quarter 2020 revenue rose 94% year-on-year to $977.7 million
  • Uber’s revenue from online food delivery skyrocketed to 224% year-on-year in Q4 2020, reaching $1.36 billion

It wasn’t just online sales of non-essentials, like audiobooks, that boomed in 2020. Consumers came to rely on ecommerce for home essentials they would usually buy in-store, such as food and groceries. In fact, online sales of these types of retailers grew by 100% year-on-year, with 17% of shoppers making their first ever online food shop.

On the other hand, for those who were unable to adapt to this radical digital transformation, sales were lost, and over 340 companies in the US declared bankruptcy in 2020.

Trends shaping ecommerce today

Better digital experiences and speedy order fulfillment are no longer unique selling points for ecommerce brands: they’re the baseline. 

This has made it harder than ever for businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors, so if you can’t adapt to the new rules of the jungle, you’re likely to drown in the SERPs (search engine ranking pages). The good news is that there are several ecommerce trends you can use to guide you through the fray and help you get better and better.

1. More competition = improved customer experience

Never before has competition for digital space been so high, and that means the cost of customer acquisition has been driven up. In order to stand out from competitors, as well as attract and retain new customers, you must optimize your customer journey from start to finish.

2. Changes in consumer habits

Brands have the opportunity to capitalize on shifting consumer habits by offering products or services that people can enjoy at home. Additionally, consumers have a strong desire for convenience and instant gratification—options such as free home delivery are a simple way to stand out.

3. Increased customer acquisition costs

More competition and new consumer expectations have made customer acquisition both more challenging and more expensive:

  • Facebook advertising costs have nearly returned to pre-pandemic highs
  • Digital ad spend will increase 25.5% in 2021, the fastest growth rate since 2018
  • One-third of consumers consider digital ads to be too intrusive

The result is a lot of advertising uncertainty. Additionally, as more people rely on ecommerce, the more they tend to value privacy and control over the use of their data. This has prompted Google to begin phasing out the use of third party cookies, making it even more difficult to target consumers with ads. 

This all leads to an increase in customer acquisition costs (CAC). This has caused another significant change to the ecommerce landscape: brands are starting to focus less on customer acquisition and more on customer retention.

Will ecommerce ever be the same?

The short answer is no. What was once a convenient alternative to shopping in-store has now become an absolute necessity. 

By paying heed to 2021’s ecommerce trends, and adapting your business to the new ways of the online world, you’ll be able to pull through the year and benefit from the huge potential that ecommerce has in the not-too-distant future.

The way the online world operates has been revolutionized, and if you want to stay relevant, you must adapt.

What’s working best to drive ecommerce sales in 2021?

7 tips to boost online sales in 2021 & beyond

The businesses that will thrive in the years ahead are the ones that can flex and adapt to change. The ability to respond dynamically to new consumer needs and stay a step ahead of your competitors means you have to keep getting better and better. Here’s how.

1. Optimize your customer journey

Not only does this mean making your website as responsive and user-friendly as possible, it might also mean changing the way you market your business altogether.

Start by mapping out your end-to-end customer journey. By ‘end-to-end’, we mean recognizing the customer journey as a whole, and not just each touch point individually. Customers don’t necessarily judge you on each individual step they may have taken. It’s the cumulative experience they’re more interested in and that’s what shapes their opinions. Understanding this journey will help you manage and optimize your customer experience.

2. Exceed new consumer expectations

Consumers now also expect ecommerce businesses to be transparent about how they work, with sustainable shopping driving many conversations about who to buy from. For example, statistics from 2020 show that 34% of consumers chose brands that demonstrated ethical values, and 43% chose brands who had environmentally sustainable practices. Put simply, if you want to stand out from competitors, you need to make your audience like you, not just your product.

A few ways you can exceed new consumer expectations is to build a purpose-driven brand, automate your fulfilment process (more on those below), and buy into “shoppertainment”. With consumers now expecting excellent digital experiences, shoppertainment is a way of driving transactions while keeping customers entertained through immersive livestream events, interactive games, and engaging videos. Over two-thirds of European consumers are interested in shoppertainment, so offering this experience can be a massive edge for your brand.

3. Focus more on customer retention than customer acquisition

Increased competition and new consumer expectations have made customer acquisition harder and more expensive in 2021, with digital ad spend having increased by 13% in the second half of 2020.

A greater desire for privacy has also made acquiring new customers an uphill battle. One third of consumers now consider digital ads to be too intrusive, and, with the surge of online activity that the pandemic facilitated, more people want control over the use of their data. The bottom line is that it’s harder than ever to target consumers with ads, and even if you manage to, the likelihood of them responding to ads is minimized.

Rather than breaking your budget with the costs it takes to acquire new customers, you might want to start focusing more on customer retention. In general, companies who invested in better customer experiences, from omnichannel marketing to automated fulfillment, fared the pandemic more successfully than those who didn’t. We can expect to see the same pattern in 2021 and beyond, so start thinking about ways to optimize your existing customers’ experiences if you haven’t done so already

4. Start using omnichannel strategies

Instead of using a select number of channels that revolve around your product, you should now be opting for an omnichannel approach, which revolves around the customer and their needs. Omnichannel retail is vital for ecommerce in 2021 because it maximizes customer convenience and experience: consumers will have the same experience of your online store no matter what platform or device they’re using, giving you the potential to reach more people while keeping consumer convenience a top priority.

When devising your omnichannel strategy, one thing not to overlook is the potential of mobile apps. In 2020, mobile app downloads rose to an unprecedented 143 billion, a figure which is on-track to reach 230 billion by 2025 — so if mobile apps aren’t a part of your omnichannel strategy and they make sense for your ecommerce business, it might be time to start integrating them.

5. Build a purpose-driven brand

Brand development will always be an important part of ecommerce, but if you want your business to soar moving forward, you need to start presenting a purpose-driven brand.

40% of consumers are now purpose-driven, meaning they want to buy products that align with their beliefs and morals. For example, purpose-driven consumers prefer to pay a higher price for something that’s eco-friendly than pay less for something that’s not.

Consumers are becoming less influenced by how flashy a website is or how impressive a product range is — these are now expectations, not unique selling points. Instead, people are placing more trust and value in companies that are human, align with their values, and offer good solutions. So, when brand building, make sure to emphasize these key areas.

6. Automate your fulfillment process and offer free, fast, and sustainable delivery

64% of consumers across the globe want their order to be shipped free of charge, and 67% of consumers in the US want their order within two days. In response, many brands have introduced automated fulfillment as a way of speeding things up. 

But if you really want a competitive edge, consider offering eco-friendly packaging. Three-quarters of US consumers said they’re more likely to purchase a product that’s packaged sustainably.

7. Cash in on global opportunities

If your ecommerce store is only available locally, you might want to consider cashing in on the global opportunities. Here are some stats:

  • In 2020, cross-border ecommerce sales grew by 82% 
  • In April 2020, cross-border sales exceeded 100% year-on-year growth
  • A survey found that 52% of consumers made at least six cross-border purchases online since the beginning of 2020

Taking advantage of cross-border sales could open your ecommerce business up to new opportunities, especially in countries where product availability is lower or shipping and taxes are higher.

Three examples of ecommerce success

Get better & better

If you’d like dedicated and tailored support in boosting your ecommerce sales, call us at 620-308-6998 or contact us here, and let’s chat about how we can work with you to create game-changing results.

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References

Five priorities for rapid revenue recovery during COVID-19 

Report: Global E-commerce Reached $4 Trillion in 2020 – Media Play News 

Amazon.com, Inc. – Amazon.com Announces Financial Results and CEO Transition 

eCommerce in 2021: Google’s Winners and their Strategies 

Shopify Announces Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year 2020 Financial Results 

Uber Announces Results for Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020 

COVID’s impact on online shopping – Retail 

Bankrupt Companies 2020: Businesses That Went Bust Because of Covid 

Covid-19 crisis pushes luxury to sharpest fall ever but catalyses industry’s ability to transform 

5 Trends for the Future of Ecommerce in 2021 

Facebook advertising costs CPM (updated weekly) 

Previous Consumer Trust in Digital Marketing 

The Death of the Third-Party Cookie: What Marketers Need to Know About Google’s Looming Privacy Pivots

Omnichannel Retail Is Leading Commerce (+ 4 Pillars)  

Mobile Market Forecast 2021-2025 

Article Shifting sands: How consumer behaviour is embracing sustainability

Meet the 2020 consumers driving change – Why brands must deliver on omnipresence, agility, and sustainability 

GWI – Audience Insight Tools, Digital Analytics & Consumer Trends 

Meet the 2020 consumers driving change – Why brands must deliver on omnipresence, agility, and sustainability

Automated Fulfillment | Fulfill Orders Automatically  

Shoppertainment is the next frontier of e-commerce in Europe, AliExpress shows 

Shoppertainment Is Landing In Europe

Consumer Trust in Digital Marketing 

Fast shipping wait time in US 

Most Americans Say That the Design of a Product’s Packaging Often Influences Their Purchase Decisions 

Stats roundup: the impact of Covid-19 on ecommerce – Econsultancy 

Global Digital Ad Spending 2021 – An Overview