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E-commerce trends of 2021: the foundation for the new norm

E-commerce trends of 2021: the foundation for the new norm

e-Commerce trends in 2021 that create new shopping reality: AI, big data, ROPO, reCommerce, D2C, product photos, BNPL.

Pylyp Sukhenko

Jul 3, 2021

E-commerce trends in 2021 are a prodigal child of the biggest pandemic of the 21st century, that shaped the new irreversible norms – however, pandemic plays out going forward.

Users grow their attachment to mobiles, increasingly care about the Planet, speak to their virtual assistants on the go, rely on chatbots to solve their problems, and want everything delivered NOW.

Recognizing yourself much?

Let’s see what trends in the ecommerce industry will play formative roles in the ways humanity shops, dresses, travels, consumes in the future.

Trending features for ecommerce: voice search, ReCommerce, images & D2C

Brace yourselves, a new norm is coming. Indeed, the pandemic changed humanity for good. And we see the new rules in formation now.

Voice search: the new cool kid of the shopping trends

Voice assistants like Google Home, Alexa, and Siri are no longer a novel AI feature, that users turn to ask awkward questions for a laugh with mates. 

No. 

In 2021 voice recognition devices are a reliable and most convenient source of information out there. For people driving or on the go, voice search is a savior of time and money.

Some quick stats on the voice recognition technology, that kinda scream in all caps: “IT’S THE FUTURE OF ECOM”:

  • According to PWC’s “Prepare for the voice revolution” report, 71% of consumers would rather use the voice assistant to search for something, than type in the query physically.
  • 40% of the surveyed customers confirm they used their voice assistant to shop for something online at least once a month.
  • 57% of consumers have used a voice search on smartphones, 29% confirmed desktop usage and 21% have spoken to their remote controls.

While voice search is the user trend that’s prompted to new heights by users’ laziness and convenience, the next ecommerce feature is being reinforced in times of pandemic for bridging the gap between online and offline and raising credibility towards the brand.

High-quality eye-catching product images: trust-building bricks

Buying online used to be a choice before, but in times of pandemic, it became the only option for many on the Planet.

First-time buyers are always suspicious and hesitant, this is why ecommerce entrepreneurs often resort to time-limited deep discounting to trigger them into buying for the first time, sometimes even at a break-even point.

But there is a ground laying principle of online shopping that serves as the sturdy foundation for other marketing gimmicks to lure the first-time buyer: professional product photography.

Whilst it’s nothing new in the industry, the significance of the hi-res pro images has skyrocketed to new heights with the pandemic-related shift in consumer behaviors. 

More digitally-lame people took to shopping and the digitally-savvy ones started buying online even more. So, high-quality visuals in these times are almost as important for ecommerce as mobile-friendliness.

When timid first-time users see good pictures of the products, they automatically consider the brand reputable and trustworthy. The demanding younger generation will expect a product to be presented at different angles, be zoomable, and have a 360-degree image to feel informed enough to buy.

Sustainability & ReCommerce

Sustainability is here to stay. 

Almighty Gretta, millennials, climate change, globalization, the omnipresence of social media have been contributing to the decrease of consumerism and popularization of pro-planet thinking. 

How can brands ensure they stay sustainable for online shoppers?

It’s a 3P rule: Products, purpose, packaging.

  • Products [keep your production as environmentally friendly as you can]
  • Purpose [keep your company structure and communication lean and nature-friendly across all functions and processes]
  • Packaging [keep your packaging recyclable or such that produces minimal harm for nature].

The rise of ReCommerce [second-hand commerce]

There used to be times when secondhand meant "used" and "cheap". Now it has come to mean "Planet-friendly" and "smart".

One of the trending ecommerce features in 2021 is that second-hand is on the rise for luxury brands, and it's spilling over way beyond Craig's list and eBay now.

Moreover, luxury brands are increasingly taking the matter into their own hands. No wonder. When big names create their own ReCommerce marketplaces, they get more control of their brand's assets, access to consumer data, and additional revenue streams.

D2C distribution and loyalty programs

The bigger you are the more negotiating power you have in the battle with ecommerce goliaths like Amazon.

Direct-to-consumer sales are a focus of any retailer with significant brand awareness. Paying the mediator is the choice of the smaller players, who rely on small margins on big volumes.

Nike, meanwhile, has invested a lot of effort, expertise, and funds into pushing for their D2C.

And it paid off.

70 million of the 250 million subscribers have joined the company during the pandemic.

The body of user data, who sign up for the Nike app is gigantic and it has a massive value for the strategic development of the company, who gets access to the tiniest details of their users’ workout preferences, like types of sports undertaken, times, geos, etc.

Trending technologies for online shopping

Mobile in ecommerce: the driving force that lags in conversion

Mobile responsive and mobile-first websites have been the talk of the ecommerce town for years by now.

Still, while the mobile traffic share overtook the desktop traffic just a year ago, desktop still wins the conversion game when it comes to online shopping: 1.98% for desktop purchases vs 1.81% for mobile shopping accordingly.

This is the reason why eCom business owners place a major focus on improving the UX and UI of their mobile websites and apps. The aim is to get ahead of the competition in this increasingly popular channel.

AI, ML, and big data

They say: The one who owns the information owns the world.

We say: The one who owns the big data, owns the big money. And the world.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data are now available as SaaS solutions for smaller players too. True, the revenue management, acquisition, conversion optimization, automation, suggestion, analytical tools by third parties are not as sophisticated as those of Amazon, but they are still rather efficient for independent players.

Data analytics and their bigger brothers and sisters – data scientists are the one profession that is in its early adoption stage, and is going to get more demanded and better paid day after day.

The use of AI, ML, and big data is a strong online shopping trend in 2021, that is going to linger in the top hot technologies for another decade.

Shoppable TV: online shopping sneaks into your smart TVs

We have all been there: we watch a movie on TV and think: those jeans would look fab on my butt too. A friend of mine took a snapshot of the lipstick of one of the Bachelor’s ladies so her Sephora consultant can find that same dusk rose matt hue.

The struggle is nearly over. NBS offers the shoppable TV service to their advertising partners already. 

When the technology gets up to speed, users will be able to buy an item they see on TV right here and there, pretty cool, right? 

Chatbots: the elixir of efficiency in customer support

Chatbots have evolved from the annoying robot-sounding sales annoyance into sophisticated multi-channel assistants who actually manage to solve many of your urgent queries in no time.

One of the best ways to decrease overheads, improve customer service, and strengthen loyalty for an ecommerce business, chatbot technology is going to get more complex and efficient by the day.

Trending user behaviors in the realm of online sells

Ecommerce trends of 2021 are shaped by consumer behavior, which is being zoomed into by many digital marketers, data scientists, and strategists. These are just a few of the newly demonstrated habits, that belong to the future formative bunch:

Quenching fast fashion thirst with P2P marketplaces and rentals

Users think about sustainability now. Pre-owned items are one of the options satisfying this customer behavior trend, but so is the rental. Accessories and jewelry have been the object of rentals for some time by now.

Cocktail gowns and coats are another upcoming things.

Mixing Online & Offline

Customers of retail shops have mastered the benefits of showrooming and webrooming on a professional level by now. The ROPO practice of research online and buy offline produces a lot of faulty data for the ecommerce e but also gives fertile ground for the development of the omnichannel approach.

The USA has 2.2 sq. m of retail space for each American, which is six times as much as China does.

The high street has been hit hard by the onset of ecommerce further propped by the pandemic lockdown. Nonetheless, a customer is not ready to give up offline shopping yet, but rather expects more of the digital integration each step of the way. Pop-up shops and interactive ecommerce kiosks help bridge the gap between online and offline shopping.

Customization & personalization

The premium retail segment is likely to be affected by the want of the client to wear things unique and customized to their own taste. 3D printing, the ability to modify a basic model with its own colors and designs may diversify the offering as well as evolve into a separate branch of business, where initially mass-produced brands [however luxury], go into full tailor-made mode.

Buy Now Pay Later

Even though fintech solutions like AfterPay, Klarna, Affirm found their footing before the COVID, after the pandemic shattered the wellbeing of so many households, the trend is in more demand than ever.

Users of all levels of financial independence happily take advantage of these services, that share the burden of purchase into chewable monthly payments.

E-commerce trends 2021: laying the ground of new norm going forward

According to the Economist, there were 4 trillion dollars spent online in 2020 – 1/3 more than in 2019.


Whilst the majority of the growth can safely be ascribed to the lockdown, the figures will hardly rollback after the restrictions are lifted due to vaccination.

It's safe to conclude that online shopping is going to become even more entertaining, AI-powered, frictionless, data-driven, mobile-friendly, visually pleasing, and omnichannel.

But the good news for the online store owners is that people become weary of the brandless marketplaces and actively search for handmade, unique, sustainable brands to liven up their mass-produced reality. They are happy to take up the savings made on the Amazon-sourced household basics for the one-of-a-kind artisan products and brands that care about social responsibility.


If you are an ecommerce entrepreneur who follows the hot topics of the industry, you will appreciate the value of professional product photography. Check out our product images portfolio to see if we could help your brand make your products convert more onlookers into buyers.


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