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    December 15, 2020
    8 minute read

    5 Growing Omnichannel Commerce Trends You Need to Know in 2021

    by: Lauren McMenemy

    Is it wise to be making predictions when the world is so uncertain? In the case of the retail marketplace, it’s not only wise — but necessary.

    The world of commerce, both digital and physical, completely and rapidly changed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    This shift has forced many omnichannel commerce trends forward and they have quickly become the accepted way to do things in retail.

    5 Omnichannel Commerce Trends to Watch in 2021

    Table of Contents

    1. D2C: Cut Out the Middleman
    2. Social Commerce: Sell Where You Find Customers
    3. BOPIS: Adjust to Customer Expectations
    4. Automation and AI: Power the New Shopping Experience
    5. CommerceXM: Empower Your Brand to Win on the Digital Shelf

    1. D2C: Cut Out the Middleman

    If there is one thing retailers have learned in 2020, it is that having a direct line to their customers can have a major impact on loyalty and retention.

    By cutting out the middleman — and specifically those online platforms and physical department stores that used to be crucial to the supply chain — brands can reduce costs, improve efficiencies, and get closer to their customer.

    That isn’t to say the old online marketplace is no longer important. Omnichannel commerce trends show us there are more ways than ever to reach the customer — with customers in more places than ever.

    Brands need to carefully consider their omnichannel commerce strategy to ensure they can meet the customer at their moment of inspiration.

    Sometimes, that means selling directly to the customer through direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels. Whether via its own online store, a branded app, or through social commerce, brands are finding new ways to speak directly to the customer.

    In turn, they’re learning more about customer needs, collecting more data to enable personalized experiences, and generally improving the chances of conversion.

    2. Social Commerce: Sell Where You Find Customers

    Everyone is clearly spending more time online in 2020 — and don’t expect that to change in the post-pandemic world when it comes to omnichannel commerce trends. Consumers and brands alike that have embraced the world of social commerce are finding all sorts of benefits they will not be eager to let go.

    Social commerce, or selling directly from social media platforms, is another way of cutting out the middleman in digital retail. These social networking platforms have billions of daily users who spend hours scrolling through feeds and they are demanding engaging and entertaining content from the accounts they follow.

    This presents a brand with the opportunity to make a deeper emotional connection with an audience through the delivery of personalized product content — all while gaining more robust user data and exposure.

    Think about the opportunity to speak directly to your potential customer via Facebook Messenger to answer sticking product questions. Or having the possibility to add a “buy now” button to an Instagram post thanks to Instagram Checkout, enabling you to meet customers exactly where and when they need.

    Social commerce opens a whole new world of possibilities for tech-savvy brands selling on the digital shelf.

    By harnessing the native functionality of social media platforms, brands can effectively target product content to make an even stronger connection with their audience.

    3. BOPIS: Adjust to Customer Expectations

    The buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) shopping option is hardly new. Major retailers have been offering click-and-collect services for a while now.

    But BOPIS has grown exponentially since the COVID-19 pandemic changed the face of retail — with shoppers becoming reluctant to linger in brick-and-mortar stores.

    Recent surveys show that shoppers were more likely to purchase from a retailer with omnichannel services and that contactless curbside pickup rated one of the most desirable options.

    With 62% of consumers embracing BOPIS options as a way to reduce exposure to the coronavirus, according to a survey by Qudini, experts on omnichannel commerce trends believe the pandemic could be a catalyst for a new, more omnichannel-focused future.

    But BOPIS requires tighter orchestration of the back-end of the retail world. It demands that the logistics chain is robust, that stock tracking and shipping are handled with confidence, and (most importantly) that the customer experience is seamless at each end of the purchase.

    Customers increasingly assume they’re dealing with one unified brand, not separate channels, and any hint of misalignment will impact their likelihood of returning for further purchases.

    While BOPIS is an impressive and desirable proposition for customers, for the retailer it requires some hefty lifting to connect online and in-store inventory.

    4. Automation and AI: Power the New Shopping Experience

    Consumers are, for the most part, comfortable with technology these days and the pandemic has hurried along those lagging at the back.

    A pre-pandemic Nielsen study found that a majority of global consumers were ready to try out augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology as part of their shopping experience.

    In fact, half of respondents said they’re seeking out AR and VR to assist, amplify, and augment their daily lives — with 51% willing to use this technology to assess product choices.

    “AI-driven big data retailing has been maturing for some years now, with major retailers relying on advanced analytics to understand what should be stocked in their stores and drive efficiencies in logistics,” writes Bernard Marr for Forbes.

    “Newer developments have seen this technology moving from back-of-house to front-of-house, with customer-racing initiatives, such as chatbots and virtual assistants. Likewise, while robots have been hanging out in warehouses and stock rooms for a while, assisting with inventory management, in 2021 we can expect to see them taking to the shop floor too,” Marr writes.

    The Nielsen study found that consumers will adopt augmented store technology “if it alleviates time and provides seamless interactions,” which means brands looking to harness omnichannel commerce trends need to be ready before jumping into the new world of shopping with technology.

    Content must be able to interact on multiple platforms and the customer experience needs to be seamless however they are interacting with the brand.

    5. CommerceXM: Empower Your Brand to Win on the Digital Shelf

    A single digital touchpoint can make or break a brand’s opportunity for consideration, purchase, or endorsement. Brands must catch up, break down the sales and marketing silos, and start building a robust omnichannel commerce strategy.

    One way in which savvy brands are doing this is by harnessing Commerce Experience Management (CommerceXM).

    An integrated CommerceXM platform empowers brands to win on the digital shelf. With so many new opportunities emerging to get to know the customer and to sell to them, brands need to be careful about how they orchestrate their content and sales channels.

    Salsify's CommerceXM platform powers the experiences shoppers demand at every stage of the buying journey — everywhere on the digital shelf.

    Watch our on-demand webinar, "The Era of Omni-Commerce: New Insights for Dominating the Digital Shelf and Beyond," to learn more about omnichannel commerce trends.


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