What You’re About To Read
Many small businesses are having trouble competing with online selling platforms. The key is making the switch to an e-commerce option, or what is sometimes called a digital storefront. Even restaurants can utilize delivery options run through mobile technology. Though admittedly, this is a lot more difficult. We’re in a strange new world, and to survive means being cognizant of how things have changed.
For effective e-commerce, you’ll need proper branding, marketing, presentation, fulfillment, and engagement. In this writing we’ll cover specifically what you should look at in 2021. By the end of this blog, you’ll have a better idea of what defines next generation e-commerce best practices generally, and how to apply such tips to the changing economic landscape of 2021.
The good news is, owing to decentralization, and the collateral impact of 2020s infamous pandemic, there is an expanded reliance on digital solutions such as e-commerce. However, to take full advantage of that good news, applying strategic best practices are necessary.
So ironically, the good news is the bad news: 2021 will see more e-commerce, but that increases the competition you’re going to have to deal with. However, provided you apply some of the things you learn here, you’ll be more efficiently positioned to do just that.
As the old saying goes, you get out what you put in. In this writing, we’ll help you know where and how to put in more so you’re able to see the results you seek. Some trends you’ll likely encounter in 2021 include expanded competition through increased online purchases. This is changing not just how e-commerce sites operate, but how traditional retail businesses work.
Things to Learn in This Article
You’ve likely seen the shift in purchasing trends from 2020 in the form of Walmart pickups. If you’ve been in e-commerce any amount of time, you know Walmart is a prime competitor. They are able to undercut many businesses which don’t have the resources to sell goods at such low prices, and now they’ve got a pickup service courtesy of 2020s insanity.
Now, Walmart and other big-ticket retailers are competing with online digital storefronts. Before, they had options for purchasing online, but they weren’t quite so extensive or tangible as they’ve become through dint of necessity. There is a slight advantage though, and that’s in terms of fulfillment.
Walmart ships to their location and you’ve got to pick it up; e-commerce shipping can send what customers want right to their door. That’s better for small e-commerce outlets in terms of fulfillment, but unless your business eats the shipping cost, it may not position you better than big retailers.
Retaining your foothold in the marketplace against such big retailers, and simultaneously retaining clientele, will be big priorities for e-commerce platforms in 2021.
Some Prerequisite Resources
For the following brief tutorials, there are a few online resources you may want to look into; and a few basic things you want to get out of the way. For example, your online e-commerce platform needs to be visible. Just as a physical storefront needs to be visible through known search engine avenues, so does your e-commerce platform.
If you can manage both, that’s going to be recommendable, but some communities won’t even allow sales in brick-and-mortar stores, and that is expected to extend throughout 2021. So resources like GMB Gorilla which position search results pertaining to your business closer to the top of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) are invaluable.
A few other resources to examine as a means of rounding out your e-commerce strategy in the coming year include:
- The fine advice on 2021 available from Shopify
- Technological shifts affecting the market as noted at 3Dcart.com
- Understanding ruthless online ecommerce competitors, such as Jeff Bezos
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Getting Into the Meat Of 2021 eCommerce Best Practices
Fulfillment is essentially what it sounds like: an order made online being brought to its rightful conclusion. You go to an e-commerce platform, pay for something you like, and then it’s either shipped to your front door, a P.O. Box, or the traditional retailer from whom you ordered the package. Earlier, we referenced Walmart sending packages to their pickup section on-site.
That’s a disadvantage for them. Granted, it allows them to reduce what they charge by eliminating most of the associated shipping cost. However, for many buyers, the added inconvenience of traveling to the store is worth the additional shipping fee. As an e-commerce platform, it’s imperative to find ways of saving customer experiences at this cost.
Essentially, you’re contending with Amazon and now Walmart, who both tend to undercut “the little guy”. They are your prime competition, so you need to find ways of outclassing them. Unique, niche offerings can help, and if you can sell your wares through these big retailers that’s fine—but read that prerequisite about Jeff Bezos.
Tripods developed independently of Amazon were sold on that platform, did well, and so Bezos kicked off the original developer and hacked their product, essentially relabeling the same thing and selling it through Amazon without the original seller being able to move it. That’s a risk with these establishment retail outlets; they’re cutthroat competitors at the highest levels.
Thankfully, not everybody wants to shop at Walmart or Amazon. They prefer what’s available through unique e-commerce outlets, individual sellers, and other similar options. This can partially be seen through new behaviors affecting retail. 2020 is a case study in a redefined commercial atmosphere.
DoorDash, pickup and delivery, online shopping, mobile shopping—all these things are defining how people buy and sell today. The internet is being positioned as a necessary middle-man between buyers and sellers. Never has this been more prescient than at the present time.
So you need to establish a brand which facilitates dominance across the market. Your brand needs to supersede your competitors. That means you need something unique and proprietary to define your e-commerce platform, and this doesn’t have to be huge. Maybe it’s the way you package what you provide, or maybe it’s some sort of quality assurance.
Whatever the case, it’s imperative that you define that branding through segues built around newly popular technologies and means of acquisition. For example, voice commerce is more relevant than it’s ever been. People can just pick up a smartphone and say: “Hey Siri,” or “Hey Alexa”, then tell the device what they’re looking for.
Omni-Channel Marketing, Site Design, and Payment Options
Branding and marketing should incorporate voice commerce best practices into outreach design as a means of expanding visibility. This is part of what’s known as an “omni-channel” marketing approach. As an omnivore eats meat and vegetables, omni-channel e-commerce marketing means shopping and browsing solutions through all kinds of available tech innovation.
For example, over the last three years or so, more people have interacted with the internet via mobile device over desktop options. This means online e-commerce websites need to be configured such that buyers can interact with them on laptops, tablets, smartphones, desktop computers, and even varying IoT devices if that’s applicable to what you’re selling.
Something else you want to think about are AI (artificial intelligence) and AR (augmented reality). Both function on algorithms which recognize common features of search queries. These common features specify some results over others. If you go searching for bath towels, AI may put a bevy of products before a potential buyer—like shampoo or laundry detergent.
Lastly, omni-channel marketing needs to similarly have the capacity to accept multiple kinds of payment. Even physical sellers at the individual level have begun using something called Square to accept digital currency transfer over only cash. This has transitioned into things like PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle, which are digital currency transfer solutions.
More Considerations to Maximize e-Commerce Market Impact
The previous points were interrelated; the following points are a bit more sporadic, but definitely considerable as you go about maximizing the efficacy of your e-commerce platform. First, is pricing. This is something pretty common that doesn’t need a lot of attention, but if you do it wrong you’re in trouble. Basically, your pricing needs to match the market.
The digital transformation complicates this. Go to Priceline and book a hotel room. Simultaneously, call a hotel and try to book through the receptionist at their front desk. The Priceline booking will almost always be cheaper—that’s not a plug for Priceline by the way; they’re not the only game in town regarding hotel bookings; just an obvious one.
The point is, just the way somebody buys can change the price. This is because, ultimately, the convenience of the internet goes both ways. So your digital pricing should be cheaper than brick-and-mortar options, owing to the shipping component. The market will expect this.
Two additional e-commerce considerations include the “green” element, and visual cues. You can actually save money by appearing to go green; simply point out how what you don’t do is good for the environment. For many buyers, this will justify a price hike over larger competitors. Visually present such “eco-friendly” products, and you’ll cinch the deal.
Beyond green segues, visually appealing options online help make ecommerce sales more likely. People don’t read like they did, but they do watch videos, explore infographics, and follow Pinterest cues. So lean into that with your e-commerce platform by making products as visual as possible. Buyers should be able to click on a picture or tap a screen and view a product fully in 360 degrees.
The Take Away for Your e-Commerce Business in 2021
Omni-channel marketing is key, and maximizing fulfillment ahead of big competitors makes sense. Remember, a visual element to online e-commerce store design is quite important, including a “sustainability” element can help you sell, and you’ll need to upgrade to match buyer practices. Also, multiple avenues of payment options need to be handled, and branding needs to be focused on as a means of positioning your business ahead of big competitors.
2021 will reap the fruits of the almost forced decentralization of 2020 as concerns in the way in which people shop. This likely—and what’s about to be said here goes against accepted knowledge—won’t be a permanent state of affairs. It could be, but there’s a lot of hidden inconvenience here, even as obvious convenience is revealed.
Accordingly, people are actively seeking brick-and-mortar options. There will likely be some level of backlash once pandemic restrictions are eased, and it will mean a marked diminution of e-commerce sales. However, convenience will retain at least some of the hike we’ve seen. That possible backlash may or may not happen in 2021; it could depend on your region.
In California, until the mid 2020s, e-commerce is likely to predominate. That won’t be the case in Montana or Wyoming. In fact, in those states, though there’s been a spike in e-commerce, there hasn’t been a total declination of in-store sales. Some people in those communities are actually opposed to the shift. So keep in mind, 2021s ecommerce trends may or may not be permanent.
Resources on 2021 e-Commerce Trends
The truth is, convenience and cost reduction for sellers and buyers does much to specify ecommerce popularity. 2020 got the public more onboard than they’ve ever been. 2021 will likely see some level of increase on top of that convenience. While it’s unlikely that ecommerce will ever totally replace brick-and-mortar, things are changing fast.
Whatever you do, you need to keep your business appraised of the changes as they come. We’ll close out this article with a few more resources to help you assure that however you conduct business, you’re ahead of trends that define the market. These resources include:
- Automat.com’s essential trends for 2021
- This white paper from Marcus P. Zillman
- This writing which contends people won’t give up ecommerce convenience
- Forbes asking the question whether eCommerce will grow when the lockdown ends
- E-commerce is expected to come in at just under $4 trillion by 2020’s end
- Why it’s important for small businesses to adopt e-commerce for survival
- A few distinct trends to watch out for as 2021 nears
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full potential out of your business.