4 E-Commerce Trends Brands Should Capitalize on Before the End of the Year
E-commerce exploded this year and is poised to continue growing for several years to come. E-commerce sales are predicted to reach 23.6 percent of total retail sales by 2025.
To stay competitive on the digital shelf, brands need to continually evolve with the latest e-commerce trends. This means staying up-to-date on consumer behavior and shopper journeys, and continuously innovating to craft successful strategies.
Below are four e-commerce predictions for the rest of the year as well as ways brands can capitalize on growth opportunities:
Prediction No. 1: Advertising Opportunities Will Continue to Grow
As retailers race to monetize their e-commerce traffic and offset direct-to-consumer (D-to-C) shipping costs, they will continue to launch and grow their own advertising platforms. This, combined with the reduction of third-party cookies, will only make these platforms more attractive amid growing consumer privacy concerns.
Brands need to seriously consider seizing this opportunity and embracing the power of retail advertising platforms. There are first-mover advantages for early advertisers and opportunity costs of not participating. However, with anywhere from three to seven retailer advertising platforms to choose from depending on the category, manufacturers must prioritize and budget for ad spend across platforms.
This is especially important because each individual platform has its own nuances. For instance, “negative targeting” on Amazon.com filters out search phrases that include your search term with unrelated search terms (making sure your bid for “eraser” doesn’t show up when a customer searches “makeup eraser”). Instacart offers high-performing targeting that's unique to consumable items and grocery delivery, such as “buy it again.”
It can be helpful to partner with experts who combine the latest advertising technology with knowledge of individual platforms, setting the course for maximum return on investment.
Prediction No. 2: Say Hello to Always-On Shopping
The pandemic solidified our relationships with social media, influencers and the digital world. It’s not “omnichannel” — it’s online merged with offline.
In fact, customers don’t say “omnichannel.” They just shop — digitally, via social media, through influencers, in stores, and surfing their phone while watching Netflix. The average consumer spent 145 minutes/day on social media in 2020, according to Statista. Today, that experience is filled with ads.
Brands can expect livestreaming, influencer-led shopping, shoppable video, and interactive digital advertising to be the new normal. Now, nearly every social platform can be a marketplace. TikTok and Snapchat entered the e-commerce game. YouTube videos are now shoppable. And many retailers will launch third-party marketplaces to help drive traffic and capture the digital consumer.
Engaging and experimenting with new advertising types that focus on customer engagement, such as video and Amazon Posts (vs. pushing products), will help set forward-looking brands apart in the era of always-on shopping. Amazon Posts are a great way to highlight inspirational content with a curated feed of visual images, while also making it easy to buy the products within Amazon. Brands can repurpose their existing social content to create engaging, visually focused content to gain more customers.
Prediction No. 3: Amazon Will Hold Vendors to Strict Standards
Last year, Amazon destroyed over 2 million suspected counterfeit products that third-party sellers sent to its fulfillment centers. Expect Amazon to continue taking measures like this to police its site and hold brands responsible for profits through tough negotiations and fees.
Increased policing by Amazon of its listings will likely create issues for manufacturers. Brands are advised to strive for strict compliance and police themselves as Amazon polices them. To set themselves up for success, brands can keep a firm eye on their product listings and ensure they’re engaging in above-board tactics.
For example, any discrepancies from purchase orders, shipping, receiving, packaging, or data misalignment may result in Amazon assessing chargeback fees that will significantly impact vendors’ profits. Vendors can avoid these complications by proactively checking their invoices and shipping processes to guard against errors. Noncompliance issues, like incorrect labelling, can also result in unnecessary fees.
Prediction No. 4: Brands Will Launch D-to-C Platforms
To diversify away from pay-to-play e-commerce retailers, more manufacturers will begin to offer D-to-C channels. When executed successfully, D-to-C brands can better control their inventory levels and pricing. They can also leverage their existing customer relationships through loyalty programs, special promotions and category-specific shopping experiences.
However, brands should weigh D-to-C pros and cons and consider whether the model makes sense for their business. D-to-C websites are popular, but they’re not for every manufacturer. For example, driving traffic to a D-to-C website is extremely expensive and may require retooling operations. This model may also distract from larger business initiatives and drain internal resources.
While entering D-to-C is a smart move for some, brands must ensure they have the resources and expertise to execute this model successfully.
Thriving on Innovation
Brands that embrace innovation in the e-commerce space will see continued growth. The best-in-class brands will take the time to leverage these strategies to grow their brands and, as a result, their e-commerce sales. When brands embrace new retailer advertising platforms, D-to-C strategies and advertising types tailored to the “always-on shopping” experience, they will thrive throughout the rest of 2021 and beyond.
Justin Leigh is the co-founder of Ideoclick, an e-commerce optimization platform.
Related story: How Retailers and Brands Can Meet Holiday Shoppers’ Expectations
Justin Leigh has helmed Ideoclick for 11 years, growing the company from 0 to 145 employees serving more than 300 accounts based on his strategic knowledge of Amazon, and his ability to solve ecommerce challenges for countless large manufacturers and CPG brands. With visionary thinking around search behavior and ecommerce seller data, he has driven Ideoclick’s technology toolset. Before Ideoclick, Justin drove sales on Amazon’s Grocery category launch team, leading efforts to analyze customer traffic and search behaviors.