Key eCommerce Trends and Statistics for 2021

With over 12 million eCommerce sites worldwide, the eCommerce industry continues to grow rapidly as new shops are created every day. Due to the global pandemic, there’s been a huge surge in eCommerce over the last year, a trend that’s expected to carry over to 2021 and beyond.

During this period, consumers have embraced new shopping habits, pushing businesses to adapt in order to sustain themselves.

To better prepare your business for the new normal that is online shopping, we’ve compiled key eCommerce statistics and trends to help boost your sales this year.

The Growth of eCommerce

Even prior to the pandemic, eCommerce has become increasingly popular due to the widespread use of digital devices. Online stores have made shopping more convenient and accessible to users around the world, and as businesses strive to improve their customer service and shopping platforms, eCommerce will continue to flourish.

With a multitude of eCommerce platforms available — Shopify, AliExpress, and Amazon being at the forefront — it’s easy for business owners to sell products to buyers all over the world.

Here are some statistics on the rise of eCommerce over the years:

  • eCommerce sales reached $794.5 billion in 2020 — a growth of 32.4% YoY. (eMarketer)
  • In 2021, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online. (Statista)
  • Around 95% of all purchases are expected to be via eCommerce by 2040. (Nasdaq)
  • The number of new Shopify stores increased by 62% between March and April in 2020. (Shopify)
  • The cross-border B2C eCommerce market is projected to generate $4.8 billion in revenue in 2026. (Facts & Factors)
  • The eCommerce share of total global retail sales is projected to reach 22% in 2023. (Statista)

From this data, it’s evident that eCommerce has a promising future, especially as technology advances and mobile apps become more prevalent. If you continue to focus your efforts on your online store, you’ll be able to reap the benefits for years to come.

Impact of COVID-19 on eCommerce

When the pandemic caused many brick-and-mortar stores to shut down, many businesses and individuals turned to online sales. Thanks to the dramatic surge in online shopping, a number of businesses were able to sustain themselves, or even thrive, since they took advantage of eCommerce platforms.

Here are some trends on how the pandemic has impacted the eCommerce industry, which can help you plan your business strategies going forward.

  • Over 90% of shoppers reported that their online shopping frequency increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (DealAid)
  • Due to the pandemic, 13% of consumers said they were increasing their use of in-store pickup and drive-up options. (NPD)
  • In April 2020, online grocery shopping was around 77% higher than before the pandemic. (NPD)
  • When stores closed in April 2020, consumers made smaller purchases and prioritized buying essentials online. (Adobe)
  • At the beginning of the pandemic, 30% of footwear sales were online, but the shutdown of physical stores increased online sales to almost two-thirds of footwear sales generated online in April. (NPD)
  • Digital restaurant orders increased by 138% in May 2020 compared to the previous year. (NPD)

The global pandemic has amplified the importance of eCommerce. Purchases that were traditionally made in person have shifted online. Even after lockdown orders were lifted, consumers continued to shop on the web and from their mobile devices.

Based on these trends, going into the retail or food sectors could be profitable business ideas if you couple them with pickup or free delivery options.

Consumer Behavior Statistics

Since the pandemic led to strict stay-at-home orders being enforced in many places, consumers turned to online shopping to buy food and other essentials. Online takeout orders skyrocketed and buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) orders grew 59% in August 2020, a 259% increase year-over-year.

With convenience and delivery impacting brand loyalty, it’s essential for eCommerce businesses to focus their efforts on improving customer service. Below are some trends on consumer behavior to help you find strategies to attract and retain customers.

  • In 2020, U.S. consumers spent over 14 billion hours online shopping. (Adobe)
  • 1% of shoppers say delivery impacts their brand loyalty. (Retail TouchPoints)
  • 77% of consumers say they would shop more from a website where they are allowed to chat with an associate. (LivePerson)
  • 68% of consumers say they trust a retailer more if associates are available via messaging chatbots to answer questions. (LivePerson)
  • 84% of shoppers reported that they are unlikely to shop with a brand again after a poor delivery experience. (Retail TouchPoints)
  • Consumers prioritize convenience over cost —they’re willing to spend more to get what they need. (Deloitte)

Given that delivery can make all the difference between a good and bad customer experience, it’s important to get it right. Ensure that you have a robust delivery tracking and customer support system in place and to improve the customer experience.

While many businesses have turned to chatbots for customer support, the data shows that consumers still prefer to talk to a real associate. If you have a dedicated customer support team, respond to queries in a timely manner to provide users a smoother shopping experience.

Social eCommerce Trends

Social media is taking the internet by storm, whether it’s with the latest trends or new platforms that pop up every year. In 2020, Facebook launched Facebook Shops — an in-app service that allows businesses to create an online store for customers to access via Facebook and Instagram.

Since social media influencers and online testimonials play a big role in encouraging online purchases, especially for younger generations, having a social media presence could be beneficial for your business’s marketing efforts.

Additionally, social commerce presents opportunities for businesses to scale, since you’re able to reach a wide audience and communicate with customers easily. Below are some reasons why you should leverage social media for your business.

  • Online stores that have a social media presence generate 32% more sales on average than those that don’t. (BigCommerce)
  • 5 million U.S. social media users ages 14 and older were expected to make at least one purchase via a social channel in 2020, up 17.3% YoY. (eMarketer)
  • In Q1 2019, over 80% of social referrals to eCommerce sites came through Facebook. (eMarketer)
  • In-app spending via Douyin (TikTok) grew 222% in Q1 of 2019. (Marketing to China)

Some social media platforms are more popular than others depending on where you are in the world. Do your research so that you find the most effective platform to promote your business.

Mobile eCommerce Statistics

Mobile devices allow consumers to buy from their favorite brands from anywhere and at any time. As the number of digital device users increases, it’s essential to ensure that your shop is accessible from mobile devices.

Below are additional mobile eCommerce statistics to keep in mind as you launch your mobile strategy.

  • It’s estimated that 9% of all retail eCommerce will be generated via mobile commerce in 2021. (Statista)
  • Smartphones are expected to contribute to over half of online spending by September 2022. (Adobe)
  • Amazon is the most popular shopping app in the U.S. with 150 million users in September 2019. (Statista)
  • Over $190 billion was spent through smartphone devices in 2020. (Adobe)
  • In 2020, U.S. mobile retail revenues are expected to reach 339 billion, up from 207 billion in 2018. (Statista)
  • In 2019, 51% of mobile device owners said they had used a mobile retail app to buy something in the past month. (Statista)

It’s just as important to deliver positive mobile customer experiences as it is for shopping experiences on the web. For example, integrate intuitive and user-friendly UX design and keep your brand identity consistent cross-platform. If you leverage the opportunities that mobile commerce brings, you’ll be able to generate more revenue.

Overall, these statistics point to a growing trend in the eCommerce industry. If your business doesn’t have an online presence yet, you should start creating one to keep up with the changes in the business landscape.

Keep these eCommerce trends in mind as you continue to build your online business, and take advantage of social media and mobile platforms to enhance the customer experience.

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Lisa Xu
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