It's common knowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on consumer behaviour. Most notably, more and more of us are shopping online, buying what we need when we need it - and mostly from the comfort of our own homes. In terms of retail, it's affected everything from how and when we shop, to what products we add to our cart. Now, we're taking a look at broader trends to see how businesses in the online retail space can improve in the last few quarters of 2021. Because what we don't want to see are more companies going dark due to the pandemic...
3 major e-commerce trends to note in 2021
1). Online grocery shopping is on the rise
During the course of South Africa's initial lockdown in 2020, several companies established themselves as major players in the online grocery shopping space. These include the likes of OneCart, Checkers Sixty60, Bottles, Quench and Zulzi. And some of these companies have experienced between 200% and 500% growth in their daily orders since March 2020. While some consumers went back to their original shopping habits when lockdown restrictions eased, many of us have stuck to grocery shopping online and become loyal repeat customers. This speaks to the success of these online shopping platforms and their 'stickiness' with consumers even after restrictions were lifted.
A report by the South African Council of Shopping Centres last year found that 22% of respondents were not comfortable visiting shopping centres and preferred online shopping, and 32% said they were regular online shoppers. American statistics show that nearly 60% of consumers are happy using digital tools to get their groceries. And, it's predicted that local numbers won't be far behind. If you're in the grocery retail industry, now's the time to boost your business with online shopping options.
2). People are shopping with social distancing in mind
Online shopping trends suggest that social distancing is responsible for some of the declining numbers. While people are definitely still spending, the difference is what they're spending money on. Some consumers claim to have cut back on non-essential products, but items such as bread-making machines, hair dye and play doh are all on the rise. So, it's really about how people can make the most of their time at home.
Let's take a look at the products that are on the rise:
home gym equipment
home office desks
Vs the products that have seen a serious decline:
It's clear when you look at these items that travel isn't really happening. And people are committing to the 'work from home' concept. While many of us are still active, we're playing less social sport and focusing more on working out at home - home gym equipment is up by 300%. These are important things to keep in mind if you're in the online retail space. When promoting new products, ask yourself if this is something that could be influenced by social distancing. It's still front of mind for many consumers.
3). E-commerce is here to stay
The final e-commerce trend for 2021 is a positive one. CEO of Market America, JR Ridinger says that barring a giant solar flare or some other catastrophe that destroys our global network of online services (and potentially the human race), e-commerce seems like a sure thing. He predicts that global e-commerce sales will increase by around 14% in 2021. So, if you aren't yet on the e-commerce band wagon, it's time to jump on.
If e-commerce is already a major part of your business, you're a step ahead. But that fact alone doesn't necessarily mean you'll be successful. It might be time to re-evaluate the products and services that are really relevant in 2021, so that you can offer consumers what they want in these challenging times. Ridinger says that pivoting is the name of the game. So, rather than totally redesigning your business as a whole, think about how you can realign it in terms of product offering, packaging and marketing to ensure you'll be successful this year and for many years to come. The online retail gravy train is gaining speed so, even if it seems difficult, now is not the time to give up.