2020 changed the e-commerce industry (and the way we shop) forever.
Recently, one of the big email marketing platforms (Privy) on one of the largest website platforms, Shopify, released a report called "The State of Shopify", outlining 14 things Top Shopify Stores need to know to Grow in 2021.
Even if you don't own a store on Shopify, there are some great data in this report for anyone with an online store, so we summarised the first key takeaways for you below, on 7 e-commerce trends you need to know about. In our next free resource, 'Key takeaways to help you make the most of your owned channels', we summarise those.
As it turns out, Shopify surveyed thousands of consumers and dug into data from 1 million merchants to get a full picture of the future of commerce. And here it is for you to enjoy in a short version, with data to back it up, and our comments where valuable.
7 E-COMMERCE TRENDS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
1. The COVID-19 pandemic sped up (and shaped) the future of e-commerce.
84% of consumers have shopped online since the pandemic, compared to 65% who have shopped in-store
This comes as no surprise of course, and we have seen this trend in New Zealand too, that despite having had comparatively short and infrequent lockdowns, people continue to shop more online than before. In turn that means that building and maintaining your online presence is more important than ever, and should be seen as a crucial part of any business, no matter what business you are in.
2. Younger Consumers are Leading the Charge
67% of these younger consumers (under 35 years of age) have shifted more of their spending to online shopping compared to earlier this year, ahead of older age groups (57% for consumers 35-54, and 41% for 55+).
What we find remarkable in these numbers is not only that 67% of younger, more tech savvy consumers have shifted their behaviour; but rather that much older groups also have had a big shift in spending patterns, especially those 55 years of age and older. This is one group we would make sure to keep in mind, especially for companies with more traditional products and offering.
3. Three main things the younger group (< 35) of consumer values
The group of younger consumers has different motivations than other generations. The top 3 factors that influence a purchasing decision for them are:
1. They like to discover and shop via Social Media
2. They prefer to shop for sustainable and green products
3. They shop to have an impact
4. But Everyone wants to Shop Small
Being a small business owner is in fact a big selling point - who knew? So don’t forget to tell your brand story. People connect with stories. Share when, why and how you do what you do at every possible opportunity.
Shopify found that 50% of consumers look for independently owned businesses to support
and 65% support small businesses
In New Zealand we have definitely seen a large shift to "support local" and "NZ Made" initiatives and communicating that a product is in fact NZ made has become even more important than ever. Many newer brands focus on appearing bigger than they really are in hopes to appear more legitimate, when the truth is that customers LOVE supporting smaller brands! Tell your brand story on your About Us page. Let your customers know who you are, WHY you started this brand, and what you are aiming to achieve.
5. Stores are splitting inventory to combat shipping delays
Logistics isn’t the trendiest or sexiest part of running an online store, but it has become more important than ever in the last year, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic caused large supply chain disruptions and large shipping delays.
In America, by distributing inventory across several distribution centers, brands have been able to use a mix of both ground and air shipping to bring inexpensive and quick shipping to their consumers. So if your inventory is in 1 location, it might be worth splitting it into multiple locations to reduce your shipping costs and transit times, especially if you have a large customer base overseas.
This one is perhaps not as relevant to brand owners in New Zealand, especially if they only serve the local market, but we have seen the impact of shipping delays of incoming products from suppliers, meaning that many kiwi businesses have looked more closely into buying from, and supporting domestic suppliers wherever possible.
If you are shipping a lot internationally, it might be worth looking at an international storage solution in addition to your domestic one? Or working with distributors that will hold the stock on the ground for you. There are many options, and what is right for you depends on your business, and future plans.
A positive impact that our clients have seen is that people have, to a larger extent than before, started looking for products and brands from all over the world. As a result, international orders year on year have increased from New Zealand to places like America and Australia. Keeping international shipping costs to the bare minimum has been an important step in capturing this new market share, caused by more people with considerably more time on their devices, and disposable income (as they can't travel). Low (or no!) shipping costs have never been more important than now, and will continue to be so going forward too.
6. Carriers are getting back to pre-COVID delivery times
There was a time when, even in New Zealand, it could take a week to get a package from anywhere in the country, as couriers were so overwhelmed with the amounts of packages shipped each day, even domestically. Thankfully, that crisis didn't last for too long here, and we have been back to reasonable delivery times for some time.
Internationally it has been a different picture though, and so for those brands shipping goods internationally; making sure their customer service has stayed on top of any delays, notifying customers and handling impatient clients, has at times tested even the most resilient nerves. From what we have heard, this seems to be almost back to normal now, but we are still hearing of import delays (just yesterday we got news of the ports in Auckland being backlogged, with too much goods coming into the country for them to handle effectively). These things are all important to factor in to your domestic and international sales strategy.
7. It is still incredibly important to keep customers in the loop
Which leads us to this last point. International shipping delays, import delays, production delays, courier delays, you name it - you NEED to keep your customers in the loop. In most cases, consumers understand all kinds of (reasonable) delays and hiccups related to the pandemic and everything around it, but they are not mind readers, and they want to know what's going on and when they can expect their parcel, so continuing to be up front and doing what you can to keep clients in the loop will go a long way, and ensure that these customers return for more purchases.