As 2020 comes to an end, online retailers are eyeing up 2021 and the new ecommerce trends it will bring. There’s a lot happening in retail for the new year, not just in technology, but also with shopping habits, the economy, and social concerns. More than other years, the 2021 ecommerce trends are direct reflections of the time.

To help you get a head start over your competition, here are 7 of the best ecommerce trends for 2021. Take advantage of them now and start selling like it’s tomorrow, today!

1. Re-commerce

Call it what you will — re-commerce, second-hand, thrift — but resale, or selling previously owned items, is showing remarkable gains lately. In fact, online resale is expected to grow by 414% by 2024 from what it was in 2019.

Although resale was rising in 2019, 2020 saw a sharp increase in resale. Experts see this as a response to money problems from the pandemic — according to thredUP, 88% of consumers adopted a thrifty hobby this year (mending clothes, gardening, etc.) as a means to save money, and 2 out of 3 people who have never sold clothes before are now open to it as a way to “make money.”

For online retailers, you may need to lower your prices to compete with thrift ecommerce. Or if you can’t beat them, join them — but first you’ll need to learn how to get good deals on used products.

2. Inclusivity

Another 2021 ecommerce trend straight from the headlines is the growing interest for inclusivity in retail. According to Accenture, 41% of shoppers shift business away from retailers who don’t reflect inclusion & diversity, with 29% willing to switch completely if inclusivity is inadequate. Those figures increase with minority shoppers.

What this means is to include more diversity in your media — product photos, videos, social media posts, blog content, etc. Particularly in fashion and beauty industries, consumers want to see more diverse representations — including beauty products for men, one of our top growing ecommerce niches of 2021.

3. Dynamic pricing

With ecommerce in general on the rise, you can expect more competition. This influx of numbers is bound to change the way the game is played, and one rising trend is dynamic pricing, or changing prices at a moment’s notice in a particular channel to undercut competitors.

Dynamic pricing is often done with the help of automatic repricer tools that monitor competitors and update your own prices accordingly (which makes this a technological trend). However, as we explain in our comparison of price parity vs. dynamic pricing, you might alienate loyal customers if you offer a better deal on channels they didn’t see.

4. Premium private label

The trouble with traditional private label products is that, historically, people viewed them as lesser-quality than name brands. And yet, according to Nielsen Company, private labels have more than doubled the compound annual growth rate of name brands, a 2.5% CAGR versus brand name’s 1.0% (over four years).

The reasoning seems to be the introduction of premium private labels — a better quality and more expensive form of private label products. This new tier of private labels opens a lot of new doors and is already in practice at stores like Whole Foods and Bed Bath & Beyond.

The “generic” private labels we’re used to, the lower-priced alternatives to big brands, remain in a gray area. While Nielsen records a decline in the dollar share of the “discount” tier private label products, favorability among Millennials is up, especially for those with less money to spend, as we see in 2020.

5. Eco-friendly

Eco-friendly is the fad that never fades, and it’ll continue into 2021 with full steam. In a nutshell, the average consumer is concerned about environmental issues, and tends to shop for products that will help, not harm, the Earth.

Typically, these products fall into two categories: made with sustainable materials and methods, or designed to be reused (as opposed to disposable, one-use items). Some retail brands find success in charity work as well, where a portion of their proceeds go to environmental causes. For specific recommendations, check out our top ecommerce niches of 2021.

6. Next level visuals

With every new year, people expect your website to look better. Online retailers must keep pace or risk coming across as outdated. The trouble is, if you don’t want to overhaul your entire website, how do you make an old site look new? Or, what if you’re stuck with the limitations of your channel, like Amazon or Shopify?

The easy answer is to improve the quality of your product photos, but sometimes that isn’t enough. An even more impressive workaround is 360° product photos, which not only look futuristic but allow your shoppers to interact with the image, improving both their experience and your conversion rate. You can make 360° product photos easily too, and cheaply if you’re on a budget.

7. Accept new payment options

Last but not least, no discussion of new ecommerce trends would be complete without a shortlist of new and popular payment options. First we had digital wallets, then cryptocurrency, and now in 2021 we have “Buy Now Pay Later” apps.

This new field of payment, not unlike credit cards, allows users to buy goods online immediately, but pay for them in installments over time. The best part (for you) is the retailer gets paid up front, and in full, while the payment company handles the I.O.U. If you’re considering adding these to your checkout, popular brands include Afterpay, Zippay, and (despite some recent bad press) Klarna.

Final thoughts: the old trends are still new

Just because you have a bunch of new and exciting ecommerce trends to try, doesn’t mean that the past ecommerce trends don’t work anymore. The face of ecommerce has changed a lot over the last few years, but some older trends are just as relevant today as they were a couple years ago.

  • Shoppable social media — social media posts that direct to sales pages reduce checkout steps and increase conversions.
  • Voice search SEO — with the increase in voice assistants, SEO should now incorporate keyword phrases people use when they speak, not just the ones they use when they type.
  • AR and VR — In the vein of next-level visuals, virtual reality and especially augmented reality are poised to become ecommerce staples of the future.
  • Mobile Experience — will 2021 be the year mobile ecommerce finally overtakes desktop? If so, be prepared with a fully optimized mobile site or app.