Alternative Text Chris Booker | 29 January 2021 |

9 things we learned about eCommerce in 2020

eCommerce - shopping on a laptop

There’s no doubt about it. 2020 was a pivotal year for retailers. With such an unpredictable global landscape, new online shoppers and increasing demands from seasoned online consumers, some retailers thrived, and others floundered. But what will 2021 bring? To understand what could be next for retailers this year, we’re looking back at our key learnings from 2020. Here are our top nine.

  1. eCommerce has finally taken it’s place at the forefront of retail

At the back end of 2020, UK online sales pushed past the 30% mark for total retail sales and this is only expected to continue this year. Not only is online a channel that simply can’t be ignored, but it must also form the basis of growth. Just look at the casualties we’ve seen this year when it comes to bricks and mortar stores. And if it’s forming the basis of your potential growth, investment is key as is a seamless user experience onsite.

  1. The market is fierce and the fight to stay in business is unforgiving

Today, people are spending more and more time online. With access to the high-street restricted and the great shift to working from home, it’s super easy for consumers to browse online for their essentials, nice-to-haves and one-day wish list. Whilst this is a fantastic opportunity for retailers, it also means that competition is fierce.

A run of the mill onsite experience simply isn’t going to cut it. The demanding consumers of today expect personalisation, a multi-channel shopping experience and a smooth and seamless process – from browsing to ordering, right the way through to delivery. Give them that and you’ll create the chance to turn shoppers into repeat customers. And get a leg up on the competition.

  1. There’s no excuse for a poor experience in 2021

A poor user experience will see consumers switching to a competitor without a second thought. Close to 89% of users will do it, meaning it’s much easier to lose users than tempt them back. According to PWC, the number of companies investing in an omni-channel user experience this year has jumped from 20% to 80%, and those that do are likely to experience 10% Y-O-Y growth, a 10% increase in average order value and a 25% increase in conversions. Still think you can afford to ignore it?

  1. Invest in click and collect

For many retailers this was simply a nice to have. A good piece of customer experience but not a huge revenue driver. Now all this changed with the landscape of 2020 seeing click and collect evolving into an essential way to shop for many consumers. And what did we learn? That much more robust systems are required to cope with the demand. Investment in this area in 2021 is fundamental for many retailers.

  1. Never stop innovating

“2020 saw some real eCommerce success stories, with innovation playing a key role in coping with an uncertain landscape. But innovation alone simply isn’t enough – it must be grounded in consumer insight and demand.”

Take the example of SkullCandy. They made the decision to switch to BigCommerce – a wise enough decision alone. But the reasoning behind this was to help their consumers get to their most valuable pages quickly, decreasing bounce rates and driving conversions. And with a full data-driven understanding of their users, it worked. That’s what we call consumer-led innovation.

  1. And if you don’t, you’ll get left behind

We’ve all seen what antiquated business models and a failure to move with the online times has done for some of the most famous retailers on Britain’s highstreets. Of course we’re talking the likes of Arcadia and Debenhams, but one of the most interesting cases of 2020 was Primark. Without an eCommerce presence, the company lost around £800 million in the first lockdown. How the high-street giant evolves in 2021 will certainly be intriguing.

  1. Social commerce is snowballing fast and is more valuable than ever

On average, people spend around 144 minutes on social media every day – it’s a key part of many people’s day, that’s a given. But it’s not just catching up with friends and looking at celebrities. Take Instagram for example. 81% of people use the platform to research products and services, with 130 million Instagram users tapping on shopping posts every month. It simply has to form a key part of your strategy moving forward.

  1. Business agility is the key differentiator between those that survive and those that succeed

There are a couple of things to note here. A number of the success stories of 2020 we’re all about those businesses that were able to cope with increased consumer demand, but also to pivot where necessary. Platform agility is key whether you need to scale up or scale down. But it also applies to your user experience. If you can be agile and provide a tailored and personalised experience through the likes of your search and merch, content and approach to abandoned baskets you’re on the right track.

  1. A competitive edge comes from a frequent review of your eCommerce ecosystem

Your eCommerce ecosystem touches on your marketing activities, website, backend technology stack, warehouse and inventory management, delivery processes and customer service channels. A seamless ecosystem that works smoothly is where you can convert prospects into repeat customers. But it must evolve alongside changing consumer requirements and demands as well as in line with business growth. Frequent reviewing is fundamental.


To find out more and to begin building a flexible, agile and scalable eCommerce ecosystem, get in touch with our eCommerce team today.

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