Kevin Zhang has built many successful eCommerce businesses.
eCommerce sales grew by over 30 percent in 2020, driven by unprecedented consumer demand during the global pandemic. As stay at home orders shifted from weeks to months, many consumers were forced to adapt to shopping online, which has fueled tremendous growth in the sector.
Essentially, the indoctrination of more buyers into the online ecosystem has been accelerated due to the pandemic. From increased overall sales, to new opportunities in niches previously untapped by entrepreneurs, eCommerce this coming year will continue to move forward in ways that, pre-pandemic, would have seemed impossible.
Kevin Zhang, a serial eCommerce entrepreneur and creator of the Branded Niche eCommerce program, has been watching the trends unfold. I spoke with him recently to get his insights into what 2021 will hold for the industry.
Aside from general growth, three key eCommerce trends have emerged that are set to define the marketplace in 2021 and beyond:
Reimagined shopping habits
The biggest catalyst for eCommerce growth has always been the industry’s ability to break the general consumer’s time-worn habit of physically visiting stores. Older demographics, who may have been wary of online shopping previously, are going to enjoy the newfound convenience and continue to be eCommerce consumers even once brick-and-mortar locations reopen at full capacity.
While the market for eCommerce has been expanded due to the pandemic, so too has the competition. Companies and marketers that are able to lead innovation for advertising content will reap higher and higher rewards.
In addition, digital content has become increasingly important and companies have been making progressively larger investments in this category. This was true before the pandemic, but as with so many other things, the coronavirus really accelerated this investment.
Large retailers that didn’t adapt their business model to make the most out of online advertising prior to the pandemic either went out of business, or learned a very tough lesson.
In 2021, eCommerce will become a higher priority on every company’s agenda, which will increase the “arms race” for digital content.
Increased demand within home-related niches (entertainment, homegoods, sanitation)
While social distancing may conclude in the near future, the psychological impact of the pandemic on consumers around the world will be permanent.
This presents a lot of new opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs. Ecommerce niches that historically had low traction may now become lucrative playing fields. For example, consumers will think about sanitation in a completely different way, likely fueling the demand for products focused on keeping individuals safe from future outbreaks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a popular subscription box focused on sanitation become a dominant player.
This coming year, as with any big disruption, businesses will be presented with both obstacles and opportunities. The proactive players will seize the day, while businesses that remain complacent will be left behind—in 2021, and beyond.