Digital Consumer Behavior Trends that will Define Digital Commerce in 2021


At the first sunrise of 2021, only a few would have said that they’ll miss 2020.

2020 has taught us a lot; rapidly changing consumer behavior and their expectations were one of them. While the pandemic shut doors to many brands and retailers, it also opened digital doors to many at the same time.

The pandemic forced buyers to avoid in-person/in-store shopping. Customers were still buying, but buyers were forced not to leave their homes because of health regulations. This led to the accelerated adoption of digital ways of shopping online.

The trend that started of fear and panic of being exposed to the contamination of the coronavirus has now shifted towards an economy that is digital, secure, and convenient.

Let’s face it; COVID-19 is yet here to stay. And so is the change in consumer shopping habits and behavior. Consumer journey roadmaps defined at the start of 2020 totally went out the window. New digital consumer journeys have defined the future of the eCommerce industry.

Changing consumer behavior includes what products/services they purchase, how they shop, which channels they use, their newly discovered priorities and high expectations about their personalized customer experiences (CX). Follow the top best practices for exceptional customer experiences in 2021 here.

Online shopping has a bigger role to play this 2021

As had been predicted earlier, the five-day holiday shopping period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday set new records. Many Americans chose online shopping to avoid exposure to the virus.

Adobe, during the holiday season, consumers spent a mountainous $34.4 billion, and that’s a 20.7 percent year-over-year (YoY) increase compared to a 13.4 percent increase from 2018 to 2019.

The increase in mobile shopping behavior will only continue to grow in 2021, especially as 5G becomes more widely available. This completely redefines what’s possible from a CX perspective online and on mobile.

Social Media is shaping consumer behavior in a big way!

Social Media plays a crucial role in store branding, reaching out to a wider audience, storytelling, influencing shopping decisions and driving more online sales.

Interestingly, during the Thanksgiving weekend of 2020, while one out of 10 visits to eCommerce websites was driven by social media (up by 17 percent YoY), it accounted for 3 percent of online revenue. Organic search remains an undisputed winner in increasing revenue share, at 11 percent growth YoY. Paid search dominates both revenue share (25 percent) and store visits (24 percent).

Touch me not!

Hope is just around the corner. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 vaccine reaches every door, and things start turning back normal again; global digital commerce experts believe that consumers will expect contactless experiences in 2021 to limit exposure to the virus.

Forrester predicts that to cater to the shift in consumer behavior, which now prefers  contactless commerce, brands will adopt advanced technologies to enable contactless interfaces that rely mainly on gesture and voice. Thus, replacing touch screens, feedback kiosks, credit card swipe machines, and other touch media. We are already witnessing a rise in digital payment modes that allow consumers to pay via mobile wallets and other such non-touch methods.

The pandemic has also accelerated immersive experiences like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Extended Reality (XR) experiences. For e.g., for the first time in its history, London Fashion Week’s organizers used VR for some of their fashion shows.

As social distancing continues to be the new normal, brands have found new ways to engage their consumers.

Talk to the bot!

Pandemic set a new bar for consumer behavior, and this bar will continue to rise in 2021. Consumers’ expectations for personalized experiences are rising.

Technology automation is one powerful way to keep up with these changes in consumer behavior. Just a few years ago, none of us expected to have a voice speaker in our living room that can do things for us on our command.

These speakers now can not only tell you the weather, your meetings for the day, answer your questions, play your music playlist, but can also order a meal for you from your favorite restaurant, help you replenish your daily essentials by placing an order at the nearest grocery store, book a cab, pay your bills online and much more. The point is it has evolved itself from entertainment to more serious transactions. Yes, voice commerce is all geared up to create a disruption in the eCommerce industry, and with newer interfaces and enhancements, it will continue to shine through 2021.

According to Gartner, 66 percent of marketing experts believe that consumers’ digital assistant powered by chatbots and AI will drive most interactions between brands and consumers in the next decade.

Loyalty is underrated!

McKinsey’s research shows that 75 percent of consumers have explored new eCommerce stores and brands during 2020, and 65 percent expect to integrate them into their post- pandemic lives.

According to Adobe, Millennials and Generation Z have always been less brand-loyal, and that trait is now growing. Many consumers are not buying the same products that they usually used to, let alone the same brand or a store. E.g., Product trends indicate that gardening tools and gym equipment saw an unprecedented rise in sales during 2020. Bicycle-workout company  Peloton is expecting profits to rise by 40 percent this fiscal year.

To counter these loyalty shifts, brands will have to level up their eCommerce game of providing more personalized experiences, convenience and comfort shopping. Trust and empathy will be foundations to drive engaging consumer experience and, in turn, consumer loyalty.

Health safety comes first!

After a year spent in panic and coronavirus infection worry, there is no doubt that health and hygiene-related matters are at the topmost priority for all of us. Heath safety has become the new fundamental, and that is what consumers are looking for from brands at the moment.

Smaller nuances go a long way to show you care. To gain more trust, we are seeing food ordering apps labeling restaurants and hotels according to their safety standards. Brands also share temperature checks of their product delivery staff with their consumers.

BOPIS and curbside pickups saw strong growth among shoppers who wanted to avoid long queues, crowds and shipping delays. This trend is expected to continue in the New Year as well.

At the end of the day, an experience-driven approach to commerce across multiple channels and multiple customer touchpoints is going to be imperative in 2021.

Does Omnichannel Shopping Experiences ring a bell already? We will cover more about the omnichannel experiences in our next section. Stay tuned!

It’s safe to say that COVID-19 is going to continue to shake things up in 2021 as well.

The big reflections and learnings of this year are that brands will have to go an extra mile to win over a digital consumer who is now completely different from what he/she has earlier. He is smart, tech-savvy and is looking for trust, empathy, safety and security.

Data says a lot about your consumers. TransForm Solutions can help you with relevant and accurate data insights about your consumer’s preferences through advanced data analytics techniques. What’s more, we can streamline your eCommerce business operations and catalyzing eCommerce growth so that you can focus on what is more important to you!

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