Ecommerce in 2021: How you can succeed amid rising competition

Tuesday March 2, 2021 - Posted by:

Covid-19 made 2020 a year that was full of challenges but also ripe with opportunity for ecommerce businesses. The ‘stay-at-home’ orders that were issued in many countries around the world led to a surge in demand for internet shopping and home delivery services, giving online brands the chance to strengthen their customer relationships by providing genuine value.

It’s estimated there are now more than two billion digital buyers across the globe, and by 2040, approximately 95% of all purchases are expected to be made via online and digital channels.

While there could be an appetite to return to physical stores and traditional shopping in 2021, it’s also likely the reliance on online services that emerged during the pandemic will become a permanent trend. Countless consumers around the world are now accustomed to the choice and convenience provided by ecommerce.

With that in mind, businesses will have to work hard to ensure they’re delivering the high-quality experiences customers have come to expect.

A key aspect of that mission will be ensuring you understand your audience and that you’re fully prepared to communicate in a way that connects and nurtures relationships with your buyers.

Standing out from the competition

There is enormous opportunity in the ecommerce space at the moment, but there is also serious competition, partly because many businesses that previously emphasised bricks-and-mortar retail were forced to shift their focus to digital operations during the pandemic.

As Shopify Plus notes in its report The Future of Ecommerce, the growth of product categories not traditionally purchased online, combined with shifts in strategy by legacy wholesalers and global retail giants, has driven up competition.

Brands that want to stand out from the crowd will need to place a strong focus on the customer experience. A key part of that is the ability to send compelling marketing messages to your audience and demonstrate that you understand their needs and priorities.

Translation and localisation will prove vital if you want to succeed in this mission on a global level. Localising your content increases the likelihood that you will:

  • Get results from international SEO
  • Bring in relevant online traffic
  • Make a strong connection with customers by communicating in a natural and relatable way

Achieving these objectives will prove particularly important if the growth in international ecommerce that occurred in 2020 continues in the coming years. Research showed that cross-border online sales were 21% higher between January 1st and June 14th 2020 than in the same period a year earlier.

According to Shopify data, use of translation apps worldwide increased by more than 3,300% during the pandemic, while currency conversion apps also attracted more demand. This points to a growing trend of consumers buying from vendors outside their home countries, which will encourage ecommerce brands that are looking to connect with a global audience. Disrupting the website customer experience with the need to check translation or currency tools is less than ideal and if ad content is not immediately understood or lacks immediate impact, the scrolling customer is unlikely to engage at all.

Inspiration and imagination

Browsing and making purchases online offers many benefits for consumers – such as the convenience and easy accessibility that proved so valuable in 2020 – but it also has certain drawbacks compared to the in-person shopping experience. One of the key distinguishing factors is that it can be more of a challenge to truly inspire and engage your customers if you can’t speak to them face to face.

One marketing channel that offers a lot of potential to deliver imaginative, inspiring messages to your audience is social media, owing to the practically endless possibilities it offers to experiment with different types of content.

This can be a particularly powerful way to engage with global audiences, providing opportunities to boost your brand recognition across various markets and communicate in a range of languages.   However, when pursuing a cross-border strategy and especially if this is a seismic shift from a previously bricks and mortar based commercial model, it is essential to work with partners that are able to solve not only the language challenges, but also has the depth of digital expertise to implement content that adheres to the formats and regulations of each individual platform.  

Forming a bond

Consumers appreciate basic benefits like the convenience and flexibility provided by ecommerce, but there’s also evidence to suggest they’re looking for deeper, more meaningful relationships with the brands they purchase from.

Research by Gartner has shown that principles like equality, inclusion and diversity are growing in importance for consumers. Consequently, businesses need to “review both short- and long-term brand and communications strategies and realign themes” to reflect these priorities, the company advised.

A separate study in the UK showed a quarter of consumers want brands to make them feel “valued and special”, while the same proportion want to feel “inspired and motivated”. In a post-pandemic ecommerce environment, what resonates with customers can vary significantly and brands are increasingly demanding ethnographic market research. eMarketer anticipates that nostalgia marketing will continue to grow as a 2021 trend, as consumers navigate the new-normal and seek to reconnect with happier and less unpredictable times.

Using the right language and communication strategies in your marketing, regardless of which geographical markets and audiences you’re targeting, will prove vital to reaching these goals and achieving ecommerce success in 2021.

Our services can help you stand out from the competition and build stronger customer relationships in the coming year and beyond.

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