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Retail Predictions 2021: What Will the Landscape Look Like for E-commerce This Year?

With the shift we’ve seen towards online shopping since March last year, retail is never truly going to go back to where it was pre-pandemic. So, what does 2021 look like for e-commerce? And how has the pandemic changed consumer shopping habits?

First-time online shoppers driving growth

The key factor driving the boom in e-commerce is convenience. For many, online shopping is just too convenient to pull back from.

It was already a fast-growing market but in recent months, it’s been supplemented with shoppers who came to e-commerce for the first time last year because of lockdowns and store closures.

This older demographic – or Generation Zoom, as we call them – often have stable retirement incomes and are statistically more loyal to brands they like.

Going forward, this is going to be a key audience for retailers to attract and retain with a simple, intuitive online experience.

Health fears may create caution

Then there are the health considerations. Despite the Covid-19 vaccine programme ramping up, there are likely to be many shoppers who will remain cautious for months and potentially years to come.

With this in mind, we’ll likely see a large proportion of consumers elect to shop online rather than risk the possibility of infection in large crowds.

But, there’s still hope for the highstreet

One fly in the e-commerce ointment, is that shopping in person remains a hugely popular social activity. And, despite the demise of the highstreet in recent years, there is still a desire amongst consumers to shop at a community level.

Therefore, retailers with a bricks and mortar presence will need to be smart about ensuring their digital and in-person channels are seamlessly aligned. As Drapers rightly says in its post-covid highstreet report – “town centres need to go back to basics and become places that serve a specific, local community”.

One fantastic example of this is Nike Live – a store concept that blends data science and premium personal service to meet local members’ exact needs.

Data key in keeping retailers agile

Amid all of this speculation, one thing is for certain – we can’t be sure what 2021 will actually bring. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of being agile.

Retailers will need to look back carefully at the different phases that emerged during 2020, learn the lessons, and be ready to navigate a quick changing retail environment.

Data will therefore be an even bigger priority going forward. The pandemic has taught many businesses how important it is to listen to customers and react appropriately – and data quality plays a key role in this.

Finding growth through cross-border expansion

With a global boom in e-commerce last year, cross-border expansion represents a huge opportunity for retailers to find growth in 2021.

And the good news is that the technology to transact into new markets has never been more accessible to businesses large and small.

Loqate is a critical component to ensure that businesses can reach customers, wherever they are in the world. Find out more about our address verification services or try it for yourself with our free trial.

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