ecommerce experts

eCommerce Marketing Trends 2021: 6 Experts Share their Thoughts on the Future of Online Retail

2021 is set to be the year of businesses getting back up and shaking the dust of 2020 off of our shoulders. eCommerce stores managed to power through the challenges of 2020. From the chaos, they also came out with a handful of major takeaways. These takeaways can then be used as a sort of strategy compass to sail through 2021 with more direction. We posed a couple of vital questions to 6 eCommerce experts and compiled their insights from their respective fields of expertise. Plus, we feature quotes from the co-founders themselves for you to draw inspiration from this 2021. 

Our clients saw more returns in their marketing efforts that revolved around a customer-centric approach. This is based on our observations of what email strategies worked best from last year. Focusing more on marketing messages that are tailored to your customers’ needs, their pain points, and desires is what kept online traffic flowing and returning to online stores.

The still apparent COVID-19 threat still keeps the majority of the world’s population in their homes. Moving what once was everyone’s everyday routine onto their corresponding online platforms. This means work-from-home jobs, remote schooling, and online shopping is the new normal. 

However, this also opens up more opportunities for eCommerce businesses to reach out to the other half of the consumer market. This is the half who now found themselves taking their shopping mostly, if not completely online.  In fact, this significant acceleration saw a 31.8% increase in online spend during Q2 of 2020 alone. 

So what does this mean to the eCommerce industry as a whole? What do eCommerce marketers have to expect in the future?  Let’s take a dive and see what lies beneath the surface of this new age for eCommerce.

Question #1: What are some eCommerce marketing trends you foresee in 2021?

“If 2020 taught us anything, it was the proof that the businesses that can adapt are the ones who win. More consumers are quickly turning to eCommerce and a digital solution to their needs. This meant that the ease barrier for a consumer had to be lower to take advantage of the influx of previously unknown consumers.” 

—Blake Read, Sales Representative of Cargo Cove

“I honestly believe email is the key to success in a long term business. So, my challenge is getting as many leads as possible and turning them into dollars as the margins are infinite. The reason you also want to do this is because of privacy laws around the world from people’s cookies from governments. Along with iOS14 changing marketing preferences, we need to work 100X harder to stay ahead and profitable.

We can’t now just start a business from nothing and expect the insane results we got in the past.  Now, we have to act like a real company, real investment, with a core focus on customer satisfaction and retention.”

—Ricky Hayes, Co-Owner & Entrepreneur of Debutify

“A work system overhaul that favors a more remote-based workplace. The brands that have transitioned to a remote setup successfully and embraced staff based overseas are the ones that have managed to overcome the challenges brought about by the pandemic. They’re also prepared for what’s to come in 2021.” 

—GQ Fu, Co-Founder & CEO of LTVplus

“Advanced segmentation will be key to delivering the messages and offers that fuel interest and loyalty amongst customers. Brands that utilize post-purchase review request emails will be able to collect valuable product and customer insights. All that can then be used to spearhead their customer retention strategy. Therefore, leading to an increase in their AOV, CLTV, and recurring revenue.” 

—Scott Goodman, APAC & UK Market Lead of Okendo

“Rising digital ad costs will force brands to double-down on owned marketing channels like SMS and email.” 

—Corinne Watson, Senior Content Marketing Manager of Postscript

“Fulfillment as a Service is a burgeoning trend and one that will stick around. This model allows merchants to overcome the limitations which in-house or third-party logistics brings. FaaS includes adaptive storage space, warehouse resources, and pricing models that meet your real-time needs.

Thanks to data-driven technology, merchants can expand or reduce their storage and shipping requirements as needed, without impacting their delivery speeds or standards. Also, multi-channel selling—when a merchant sells on multiple online marketplaces and/or their own website via an eCommerce platform. For example: selling on Amazon, eBay, Wish, and a Shopify website. This boosts audience reach, competition, and customer touchpoints.” 

—Celena Chong, Partnership Leads at Deliverr

Question #2: What are some challenges do you believe that eCommerce marketers could run into in 2021?

“Watch out for omnichannel growth as opposed to traditional websites for consumers in 2021. Marketplaces like Walmart, Etsy, Amazon, etc are going to continue focusing their efforts to obtain these high influxes which will result in higher consumer expectations. The challenge will be keeping up with automation standards to adhere to the consumer expectation with these unique marketplaces.” 

—Blake Read, Sales Representative of Cargo Cove

“The challenges are big in 2021, with COVID still very prevalent in the community. Changing government policies and legislation just getting the products fulfilled is a challenge in itself. From customs holding your products for longer, higher customs costs, and other legal requirements. It’s a tough environment just to get the customer their item.

Add to it that we are now seeing a huge surge in competition from paid marketing. It’s more important than ever to be testing new creatives, and new marketing platforms like Google and email.”

—Ricky Hayes, Co-Owner & Entrepreneur of Debutify

One of the challenges that we’re seeing with eCommerce brands is scaling their customer service teams. Specifically, scaling them fast enough to meet the demands of their ever-growing base of customers. It’s almost unpredictable due to many changes happening in the world right now.

—GQ Fu, Co-Founder & CEO of LTVplus

“Customer Retention has become a top priority for eCommerce brands in 2021. The on-going pandemic has increased the amount of competition in the eCommerce space, causing customer acquisition costs to rise. As a result, online brands are now shifting their focus from acquiring new customers to retaining existing ones. This will be achieved through nurtured communications via channels like email and SMS.”

—Scott Goodman, APAC & UK Market Lead of Okendo

“More and more brands will start using SMS. With the risk of the channel becoming crowded, brands will need to iterate on their strategy to make sure they’re not annoying customers. SMS subscribers should not be treated like email subscribers.”

—Corinne Watson, Senior Content Marketing Manager of Postscript

“Free shipping: 65% of customers check for free shipping offers before they even consider adding the product to their shopping carts, and 75% of consumers expect free shipping in their shopping experience.”

—Celena Chong, Partnership Leads at Deliverr

Question #3: What are the most common problems faced by consumers who look for your service?

“One of the most common problems seen daily recently is being able to obtain an automated solution for a fraction of the price it used to be. eCommerce has no sign of slowing down which means prices are going down—and competition is going sky high. Margins are shrinking to be razor-thin, so providing solutions at a price that can re-obtain those previous margins is the difference-maker.”

—Blake Read, Sales Representative of Cargo Cove

“The biggest is fulfillment times, no doubt. Getting the sale is not a problem, the fulfillment and customer service is the hard part from what I see due to COVID as well as their rising expectations of businesses.”

—Ricky Hayes, Co-Owner & Entrepreneur of Debutify

Clients who work with us usually have problems concerning having enough manpower to meet shoppers’ needs, recruiting and training agents fast enough to handle influxes in traffic, having a scalable customer service team, optimizing their customer service setup to create the best customer experiences and achieving the best sales results, and turning their contact centers into profit centers.

—GQ Fu, Co-Founder & CEO of LTVplus

“Merchants turn to Okendo when looking to ‘build a community.’ This umbrella concept is pivotal to allowing brands to be more than just a product. Driving a communication and post-purchase strategy that builds the brand as one that understands its customers is arguably one of the toughest achievements for a company.”

—Scott Goodman, APAC & UK Market Lead of Okendo

“One of the biggest challenges with SMS right now is that since it’s still a relatively new marketing method, best practices are still a bit of the wild west. That’s why at Postscript we’ve double-downed on educational resources to help brands understand the nuances of the channel and set themselves up for success.

A lot of the marketers who are starting to use Postscript are well-versed in email marketing. With that comes the temptation to treat the channels similarly. Finding a good balance between messaging cadence and cross-promotion is pivotal to omnichannel success.” 

—Corinne Watson, Senior Content Marketing Manager of Postscript

“Increasing competition. The pandemic caused a flurry of online shopping, which means more potential business—but also far more competition. Next are lost sales. Even if customers discover the merchant’s product selection and add items to their carts, they often turn away because of slow or costly shipping. Cart abandonment also continues to be a huge problem for businesses.

And finally, the cost to fulfill by themselves. It’s far more cost-effective to outsource a fulfillment system instead of build one. Common friction points include negotiating contracts, meeting delivery estimates without penalty, fulfilling backorders upon receipt, and time and cost to ramp up a system.”

 —Celena Chong, Partnership Leads at Deliverr

Question #4: What’s a valuable quote from yourself, a representative, or even your CEO that you can share with us?

“With consumer expectations rapidly growing in the United States and abroad, business owners have no choice but to upgrade to the very best customer experience that includes fast, reliable, and affordable shipping. That’s how we entered this journey ourselves 

Robert McFaul, Multiple Brand Business Owner, Internet Marketer, and CEO of Cargo Cove 

“Every problem is a gift—without problems, we would not grow.”

—Ricky Hayes, Co-Owner & Entrepreneur of Debutify

“Taking great care of your customers is not only morally the right thing to do, but it also makes a ton of financial sense” 

—GQ FU, Co-founder & CEO of LTVplus

“Shoppers that interact with reviews are 5x more likely to purchase than those who don’t. But converting shoppers on your website and marketing channels with social proof is only half the potential of your reviews program. Leverage the insights that customer reviews provide on specific product and buyer attributes to take your marketing communications to the next level.” 

—Scott Goodman, APAC & UK Market Lead of Okendo

“It is really hard to make substantial predictions for 2021 given the whirlwind that was 2020. But if I had to guess, I’d say that the biggest focus for eCommerce brands next year will be on owned marketing, customer retention, and exploring additional marketing channels.” 

—Corinne Watson, Senior Content Marketing Manager of Postscript

“2020 was a successful year for eCommerce, despite an overall volatile atmosphere. In 2021, we want to offer an unparalleled buyer experience for our eCommerce merchants, and allow them to delight their customers with seamless fast shipping. We focused on 2-day delivery in 2020, and it’s only getting faster as we move to next day and even same-day delivery in 2021.” 

—Michael Krakaris, Co-Founder of Deliverr

Meet the 6 eCommerce Experts

 

Corinne Watson of Postscript

I am all-things-content at Postscript. I create our written educational resources in our Learning Center and Blog. Postscript is an SMS platform for brands on Shopify and Shopify Plus. We give brands the tools, education, and support they need to ace their text message marketing strategy.

 

                                                

Celena Chong of Deliverr

Deliverr is an ultra-fast fulfillment service that enables eCommerce merchants to accelerate their sales. We do this by offering 2-day and next-day delivery badges on their products, everywhere they sell. Sellers enjoy clear, affordable pricing and a hassle-free experience from day one—it takes 2 minutes to sign up and inbounding products to the network is fast and easy.

 

Ricky Rayes of Debutify

I consider myself a hard-working businessman whose core focus is to put customers first—look at the long term and build an asset I am proud of. This exact philosophy is applied in Debutify too, because customers should always be heard, listened to, supported, and respected.

GQ Fu of LTVplus

LTVplus helps eCommerce brands to make more money by providing world-class dedicated customer service teams. GQ is passionate about customer service and he helps increase the Customer Lifetime Value of eCommerce brands.

Scott Goodman of Okendo

Okendo is a customer marketing platform with a suite of tools for collecting and showcasing reviews and UGC onsite, enabling merchants to build trust, drive conversions and maximize CLTV. Okendo allows the collection of not only reviews and user-generated content but also the ability to unlock advanced segmentation and personalization options. 

By syncing first-party customer attributes captured in Okendo to customer profiles in Klaviyo, brands can start to nurture relationships at a more granular level. Campaigns and automatic flows become relevant to body shape, gender, or age. You can even recognize and reward VIP reviewers/customers. 

That’s what makes the Okendo x Klaviyo integration so unique and game-changing by allowing brands to build that community. In fact, using data collected from Okendo to create advanced segments in Klaviyo, brands can tailor their messaging to increase revenue-per-recipient up to a massive 423%.

Blake Read of Cargo Cove

My name is Blake and I am the lead sales rep at Cargo Cove Fulfillment. I’d like to think my primary duty day-to-day is to be a logistics ninja for the brands that put their trust in our business.

Cargo Cove is a fulfillment network dedicated to automating your logistics so you can have the security to scale from 1k orders/month to 100k orders/month, keep up with the shipping standard in the industry, and even save more money per order while doing it.

Main Takeaways for 2021

Our main takeaway from their insights is that there are two prominent focuses that eCommerce stores should lock onto for smoother sailing in 2021. These focuses are customer-centricity and adaptability, key areas that have also been highlighted in this interview with Steve Tan of the eCommerce Facebook group Elites.

Consumers now have more power than ever—able to dictate what their needs are and how brands are to conform to these needs. For businesses and marketers, the ability to adapt during times of drastic changes can mean the difference between sinking and floating in the eCommerce space.

“Fundamentally, it’s not so much about what has changed, but rather what has become the norm. It’s really about the whole work-from-home shift where email became a huge part of a person’s life now. If your audience is a working adult, they have a job, and a credit card—there’s no doubt email becomes a bigger part of their lives.” 

—Joshua Chin, Co-Founder & CEO of Chronos Agency

When it comes to versatility with high returns, email marketing is the digital marketing tool for you. Email marketing has proven to still be the MVP of 8-9 figure eCommerce brands, especially during this pandemic. How exactly can you craft customer-centric emails to win loyal customers? Just fill out our form and schedule a free strategy call with us and our team of email experts could even do your email marketing for you!