The Top 5 Trends That Will Define 2021

2021

It’s no stretch to say that 2020 didn’t go according to most people’s plans. Our expectations were shattered early in the year, as news of COVID-19 first made real waves in February and has persisted ever since.

This strange and unexpected year has made its impact felt in myriad ways, from the ways we celebrated major milestones and holidays to ways we do something as simple as buy groceries. And as a result, shoppers the world over were forced to rethink their buying habits and change the way they made purchases for everything from essential items to luxury gifts.

So as 2020 turns to 2021 and the hope of a return to some form of pre-pandemic normal appears on the horizon, what can we expect in the new year? 

To answer that question, we’ve searched far and wide to find predictions on what trends, technologies, initiatives, and more are in store for the year to come. Here’s a recap of notable commerce trends happening in both B2C and B2B, and our perspective on how they will impact your product experience. 

More multichannel shoppers

The lockdowns and stay home orders that marked 2020 left brick-and-mortar shoppers with virtually no choice. They would need to change their shopping habits and embrace multichannel shopping – and research shows that most shoppers did just that. eCommerce sales volume grew by nearly 50% year over year in 2020, and many buyers became even more channel-agnostic than they had been in the past: nearly three-quarters of customers are using multiple channels during their shopping journey, and what’s more, as many as 90% prefer the omnichannel experience to single-channel shopping.

While many brick-and-mortar stores are now once again welcoming shoppers back into their stores, there’s no reason to believe that the end of lockdown restrictions will be the end of omnichannel shopping. In fact, researchers expect this trend to continue into the new year, meaning that it will be crucial that merchants are able to meet their customers where they are. That means adding new commerce channels to their arsenal and ensuring that you provide a unified, but not necessarily uniform, product experience with accurate, consistent and compelling product information across all channels.

Social shopping

As consumers raced to embrace multichannel shopping options in response to pandemic-related restrictions, a few new channels arrived on the scene at seemingly the perfect time — social shopping channels like Facebook, Instagram, and most recently, TikTok. These platforms accounted for more than $23 billion in sales in 2020, a notable increase from 2019 sales, which totaled just under $20 billion. 

This is another trend that’s likely to continue into the new year. Researchers expect the social commerce market to grow by 31% as more social media networks add shopping pages to their sites, leading to a global market growth of more than $200 billion over the next four years. So, what’s the key to success on these social shopping sites? Contextualization, or ensuring that you’re providing the right information and experience for the channel that you’re selling on. So, make sure you have a solution in place that can help you manage your product information and syndicate it to the right channels, every time.

BOPIS Is Here to Stay

As we head into 2021, many observers expect brick-and-mortar retailers to make a big push to encourage consumers to return to stores, particularly with hopes of a vaccine and an end to restrictions around the corner. But with omnichannel buying on the rise, these companies will be fighting against consumer habits that have become ingrained over the past year, including some of the trends we’ve already discussed. So, expect many brick-and-mortar stores to continue to invest in buy online, pick up in-store (AKA BOPIS) services. 

These have already been popular among some retailers hoping to encourage increased foot traffic. But while BOPIS programs can have big results for brick and mortar stores, such as U.S. retailer Rural King, they aren’t as simple as flipping a switch and allowing consumers to pick up purchases in person. It requires organizations to implement a solution that can help them deliver the most up-to-date product data, including information about the size, weight, shape, and other relevant pick-up information.

Increased emphasis on brand values

Research shows that shoppers increasingly consider a brand’s ethics and values, including its diversity, environmental impact, its impact on the local community, and more when making purchasing decisions. Nearly half of consumers now describe themselves as “purpose-driven” shoppers, who seek products and services aligned with their values. B2B buyers are also increasingly purpose-driven. Akeneo’s own research found that product and brand values have become the leading purchasing criteria following price, with 61% of respondents citing it as a major impact on purchasing decisions.

This is especially true of Gen Z, millennials, and other younger shoppers with 90% saying they believe companies must act to help social and environmental issues, indicating that this trend will remain prevalent in the coming years. So what does this mean for you and your business? It means that it’s crucial that you understand what motivates your buyers, broadcast your brand beliefs and show how you put them into action, and give your customers the information they need to make a good purchasing decision. This includes providing information about the origin of a product, organic materials used in a product, a given manufacturer’s social responsibility or carbon footprint, and more.

Continued supply chain transformation

Merchants and distributors the world over were forced to find new suppliers this year as deliveries were delayed or even canceled as a result of the pandemic. This left many organizations scrambling to find new business partners and onboard their product information. In 2021, look for more companies to continue to turn to new suppliers, ideally with an eye to finding more local partners, to be more responsive should a similar situation arise again. 

This means these organizations will need to be ready to tackle the issue of efficiently onboarding supplier product data, which can often be a time-and-budget-consuming process. What’s needed is a solution that enables willing suppliers to provide their product information directly to you, the retailer or distributor, in the format you need, without having to go through the painful, time-consuming manual process of editing Excel sheets, copying and pasting data, and manually reviewing and approving their submissions. 

Make sure your organization is ready for 2021 and beyond

So, how can you make sure your organization will be prepared for whatever 2021 throws at it, be it social shopping, BOPIS, supply chain changes, or anything else?

The answer lies in your product information and product experience. When adding to new suppliers, broadcasting your brand values, and adding BOPIS to your offering, you’ll need to be able to easily integrate and enrich product data to have success. And in order to take advantage of increased omnichannel and social shopping, you’ll need to be able to distribute that information to a wide range of channels easily and efficiently. 

So, make sure you invest in a solution that can help you deal with these changes in product information and create a product experience that will help you succeed in 2021 and beyond.

Want to learn more about the power and potential of product information for your business? Check out some customer stories to see other organizations that have benefited from Akeneo PIM!

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