Rising eCommerce Trends & Future Forecast

Blogs | February 11, 2021

There’s no doubt that 2020 was a year we will never forget! While a range of brick-and-mortar businesses have taken a huge hit, the number of online purchases continue to rise. From July to September 2020 online sales spiked to $199.44 billion, increasing 37% from Q3 of the previous year. Brands are working around the clock to create a stronger online presence that is attractive to customers. To thrive amidst the rapid changes, companies need to stay on the pulse of retail trends to prepare for the future. Here are a few things we’re seeing as emerging eCommerce trends in 2021.

1 – Rapid Globalization of Marketplaces and Expansion Through Emerging Marketplaces

Globalization
India remains an eCommerce global leader for shopper penetration and logistics innovation. Flipkart, started by former Amazon employees, is the top digital marketplace in India with Amazon being the runner-up. In 2018, Walmart bought the majority of Flipkart to aggressively outshine Amazon India. Snapdeal, the third-largest player in this space, has more than tripled its traffic in two years – from 27 million monthly visits in October 2017 to 87 million by September 2019.

The POTOO team currently works with brand partners to provide data for cross-border expansion opportunities outside of India, China, the US, and Europe. We’re now tracking growth opportunities for brands across Mercado Libre (LATAM), Shopee (APAC), and Lazada (APAC). 

Emerging Marketplaces 
Some consumers may find Amazon to be overwhelming to navigate – the paradox of choice is vast. Niche marketplaces like Etsy and Wayfair provide customers with a more targeted buying experience. Etsy is known for only selling vintage goods and handicrafts while Wayfair specializes in home decor and furnishings. Competing head-to-head are curated marketplaces, like The Lobby and Italist. Their goal is to bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping experiences. The platforms work by using social media influencers globally to help consumers with their purchases by sharing their favorite items. This experience mimics shopping with a friend from the comfort of your home.

B2B Marketplaces
Global marketplaces are growing rapidly with the focus on assortment and availability enabling households to expand their options and suppliers to be more efficient with inventory. In addition to reaching consumers, marketplaces like Alibaba are focused mainly on its B2B customers with its wholesale website based in China. Other players in the B2B space include global supply platforms like:
* Made-in-China – Manufacturing/processing machinery, industrial equipment, and auto parts 
* GlobalSources – Consumer electronics, apparel, accessories, and the like
* eWorldTrade – Home appliances, machinery, automobiles, personal care, etc.

2 – Social Selling
From Facebook storefronts to Pinterest, to streaming videos, to WeChat Key Influencers, retailers have been trying relentlessly to draw attention to their largest brands through social media. Here’s a quick look at what platforms are making the biggest impact in 2021 so far: 

Facebook & Instagram– POTOO is working with brand partners to better understand and mitigate any third-party seller impact coming from social media marketplaces. Both platforms have established terms of service and policies for 3P sellers.

POTOO’s services include:
* Monitoring brand for fraudulent activity and intellectual property violations
* Reporting any fraudulent activity and intellectual property violations found on the platform
* Correspondence with third-party sellers when applicable

Instagram Checkout is going mainstream with its easy path to purchase and creative business tools to help brands build awareness. Nearly 130 million people tap to reveal a shoppable tag every month. Instagram Checkout helps companies announce upcoming launches and streamlines transactions, making the buying process easy to the customer and beneficial to brands. 

Facebook Marketplace-  Facebook’s latest foray into retail is a bit like a garage-sale masquerading as a viable alternative to eBay or Craigslist. It also allows the shopper to adjust the search radius and connects consumers directly with sellers to finalize their transactions. 

TikTok & Teespring TikTok and Teespring use content creators and fans to promote products within the app. While anyone is currently allowed to create and sell their merchandise through Teespring, there may be some creator exclusivity involved once partnership details are established. Eligible creators will be able to make their merchandise on Teespring, then promote and sell it directly through TikTok. Chat with your marketing team about Key Influencer strategies to learn how your brand can participate. 

Offer-Up is another image-forward app connecting a community of sellers and buyers. Rated Top 3 in the shopping category, this app allows you to post in just 30 seconds for millions of local users to browse and shop your items. Users can check ratings, see reviews, and instantly communicate through in-app messages. 

Upcycle/Food Waste – Gaining popularity prior to the pandemic, we’re seeing apps in this category skyrocket in popularity. Upcycle/Food Waste apps build on the idea of eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace, but remain focused on sustainability, offering free used products to a good home. Watch this space for anyone with a sustainability promise. 

3 – Sustainability 
Brands are finding more creative ways to limit or offset their carbon footprint. Companies like Patagonia, The North Face, and Madewell are giving customers money back on any used apparel returned to them. Similarly, BestBuy encourages customers to trade in their used electronics, and Kiehl’s rewards customers who return their empty skincare bottles. 

Amazon is mindful of this trend and has created a few ways for brands to reduce waste. Frustration-free packaging has long been a win/win for sustainability efforts and usually reduces fulfillment costs too. It’s also a great tool to differentiate your 1P ASINS! Since 2015 Amazon has eliminated over 1.6 billion shipping boxes through this option. Tide has taken it a step further with their Eco-Box, a fully recyclable, shipping-safe package that is produced using 60% less plastic and 30% less water. 

4 – Marketing / Advertising on Amazon
With the ever-increasing demand for brands to reach more customers online, Amazon has improved some of its marketing/advertising features available to brands. This includes more videos, virtual experiences, personalization, and advertising options on the marketplace. Amazon Live Video is a feature giving brands the ability to interact with their customers through videos, tutorials etc. Amazon Explore allows customers to buy an experience as opposed to a gift. 

Amazon’s influencer program is becoming increasingly popular as well. Customers feel more connected to the brand when they see images of others enjoying products they’re interested in purchasing. This could be why 89% of marketers say influencer marketing ROI is better than most other marketing channels. To further improve the customer experience, Amazon is improving personalization features by matching consumer interests to their searches. Be on the lookout for more enhanced content, branded storefronts, and marketing support for brands on Amazon. 

That said, it’s important to ensure your listings and distribution channels are optimized before adding a new feature to the mix. If you’re eager to write some advertising checks, we’d recommend exploring Walmart, Instacart, or Target as potentially less saturated platforms — in addition to the above-mentioned social selling channels. 

Our expert eCommerce team stays ahead of trends to support our clients as they navigate global marketplaces. To learn more about our services, reach out at: www.potoosolutions.com/contact-us.

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