2021 eCommerce: Trends for the New Year

2020 is (finally) coming to an end. The coming year is going to bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “New Year’s Resolution.” While the rest of the world rejoices in the hope of the new year and a fresh start, we’re looking forward to 2021 for a few different reasons. Put simply, it’s a great time to be in eCommerce. While the world went to the dogs, people went online shopping. When COVID-19 put a massive kink in the traditional consumer journey by putting us all on lockdown, it closed brick-and-mortar establishments and stores – making the web the main avenue for consumer shopping. According to SearchNode, 7 out of 10 shoppers said they bought more online than they usually do because of the lockdown. Not only that, but when eCommerce brand respondents were asked how their online revenues were affected during the lockdown, compared with the period before COVID-19,

  • 90% of respondents said that during the global lockdown in Spring 2020, their online revenue increased at least a bit, compared to the pre-pandemic period
  • 50% of the participants claimed that it grew by over 100%
  • While most respondents managed to increase their revenues, 6% stated that it decreased

And even after the initial spring lockdown and loosening of capacity restrictions, from respondents who claimed their online revenues increased during the lockdown, 92% were still seeing growth after it was over. Surprisingly, only 1% said their revenue decreased after.

So, what do we make of this? The ramifications are pretty obvious – eCommerce is taking an even bigger slice of the consumer spending pie. But that’s not to say it’s all gravy. Yes, consumers are there and the data suggests they will continue to be even after this forsaken year concludes. But, eCommerce isn’t an industry for the faint of heart. It’s highly competitive and will only get more saturated as the world becomes more comfortable making the majority of purchases online. 84% of eCommerce brand respondents said competition in their market is extremely tough or challenging, citing major online retailers like Amazon and eBay as substantial obstacles. It’s rough out there – and it’s only going to get more so in the new year.


To be successful in the eCommerce industry, it’s survival of the fittest. That means ensuring that your business model is as lean, efficient, and high quality as possible. That leaves a few questions up to the eCommerce business owner: To drop ship or warehouse? Cast a wide net with a large line of offerings or slim down and specialize? Invest in a social strategy? These decisions are going to affect a lot more than just your bottom line. Let’s address these questions.

First off, while drop shipping has many alluring attributes – including less overhead on your end and not having to worry about managing shipping – it also leaves A LOT of your brand experience in someone’s (most likely apathetic) hands. You have no control over supply levels or shipping quality. Many dropshipping eCommerce sites use the same handful of Chinese suppliers; thus, should your competitor take over a large order and the supplier run out of stock – your business is left high and dry.

We predict that warehousing inventory is going to become more utilized in the new year. While more costly, it offers higher margins and, most importantly, quality control. You have much more agency over packaging and product quality. With trends like unboxing videos garnering a lot of attention online, it’s not just about the quality of your products, it also matters how the item looks when it arrives. This adds a new dimension to your customers’ branding experience and could be what sets you apart from the competition if done well.


Finally, as mentioned before, competition is fierce. The internet is a wide and varied space – not exactly the place to try to be the jack of all trades. Now is the time to simplify your portfolio and specialize in your top few performing products or offerings rather than overextend yourself. Find your niche and stick to it. This strategy is going to save you time, money, and lots of headaches in the long run.

Once you have your handful of hero products, as amazing as they may be, they aren’t going to sell themselves. Simply setting up your site and waiting for the sales to roll is not much of a strategy as it is a great way to lose money fast. In an overly saturated market, it’s become imperative to find a consistent marketing message and stick to it across channels. Are you a lotion brand with a mission for sustainability? Amazing. Do you make jewelry from reclaimed highway trash? Even better. People have plenty of options on who to buy from these days when they make a purchase; they want to feel as good about the brand they’re buying from as they do about the product itself. Make sure you’re considering your brand itself as part of what your customer is buying into. That logic follows through from website copy and the keywords you’re using on SEO to your social media feed.


In conclusion, running an eCommerce business in 2021 is going to require all hands on deck. Make a cohesive strategy for your brand, from the supply chain to social media. It all needs to work in tandem for you to be successful. Consider your user’s experience in every touchpoint of your marketing strategy and ensure it aligns with your established brand’s tone and voice. If you need a little help in that department, we’ve got you covered.

If you’re a brand looking to get in on the increase in online traffic but are in need of a little guidance in the SEO department or are looking to switch things up for 2021, we’d love to help you reach your digital marketing goals in the new year. Through SEO, social media, and inbound marketing tactics and strategies, Boxwood Digital can get your eCommerce site humming.

Get started with a quick, free consultation.