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12/04/2020

2021 – Six expert predictions for digital commerce

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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An executive from a successful independent online music retailer sees digital consumers looking for privacy and used items in the coming year.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Mike Clem, chief digital officer and senior VP of Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Sweetwater Sound, about what he expects the biggest trends in online retail to be in 2021. Following are highlights of his predictions.

  1. Privacy-sensitive future: “We can expect the most dramatic change to online advertising in years as browsers and ad technology reduce advertisers’ ability to track and target customers.”
  2. Demand for non-traditional credit and payment plans: “As a result of COVID-19, banks and credit markets are tightening and credit approval rates are dropping, leading to an increased appetite for financing. Winning retailers will have creative ways to offer payment plans or self-finance products.”
  3. Growth in ‘recommerce’ and the demand for used products: “Times are tough for customers these days who need to save a couple of bucks or make a couple of extra bucks. With widespread working from home, we’ve seen time spent at home become monetized; and we can anticipate online marketplaces like eBay and Etsy to continue benefiting from the growth of ‘recommerce.’”
  4. ‘Discovery’ in the absence of physical stores and rise in personal shoppers: “With more and more consumers making the switch to online shopping as a result of the pandemic, we can expect a shift in how shoppers learn about new things to buy in 2021. We can also anticipate a rise in personal shoppers, who can offer advice and trust in the absence of physical stores, as well as confidence to high end purchases or high consideration items.”
  5. Social shopping: “2021 could be the year that Google successfully bridges video and shopping, influencers with creators, and retailers with brands, with potential partnerships in the rumor mill. If they’re able to leverage YouTube with shopping, they have the potential for a powerful advantage over Amazon.”
  6. The year of second impressions: “During the rapid acceleration of online shopping, many customers branched out and tried new companies. But, as retailers, many of us were overwhelmed by this surge in business and not able to provide our normal, great first impressions. In 2021, it’ll be important to ‘backfill’ value for those customers who had a mediocre experience.”