Top Industry Trends for Retailers in 2021

Where 2020 will forever be the year of COVID-19 for families around the world, for online retail 2020 will be known as a year of transition, adoption and realignment of business models.

Due to the rapid change and increase in online shopping behaviour brought on by COVID-19, many retailers were left scrambling to make the transition and keep up with demand. As we enter 2021, the focus for a lot of retailers will be around the following industry trends.

a woman and a man sitting on the sofa with a laptop on their laps. The woman is holding a credit card and they are looking for products at a website


Ecommerce adoption and customer retention

In April 2020 alone, Australia saw an increase of online buyers upwards of 200,000 individuals who previously have never bought online and a whopping increase of over 80% of online spending than in 2019. This increase in online demand was largely due to an entire nation not being able to physically go into stores. It fact, COVID-19 was the impetus for ecommerce adoption among older generations.

Looking into 2021 the prediction is that more customers will be going back and buying their products instore, however those that enjoyed the perks of online shopping, including this older generation, will likely continue to do so. 

For retailers this means working hard to make sure those new online customers turn into repeat customers. By really fine tuning their retention strategies, personalizing the online experience and providing an easy and safe way for them to shop online, retailers can help drive consumer loyalty.


Among those 200,000 new customers in the marketplace, there is no doubt that many will now have seen the light when it comes to the convenience of buying online when working from home.

However, we’re also seeing consumers lean into BOPIS and curbside pickup. In fact, 32% of consumers are more interested in using BOPIS compared to 2019 when buying online and selecting their delivery preference.

With some companies allowing their staff to go back to work in some capacity, the convenience of BOPIS will carve out its little niche. Unfortunately, the quick turnaround of BOPIS purchases also makes it appealing to fraudsters. Therefore, merchants will need to have a comprehensive fraud prevention solution in place with chargeback insurance, in order to protect their revenue.   


Virtual customer experience

Another key element that needed a closer look due to COVID-19 was the need for quality online communication, internally with your teams and with your clients. B2Bs have already been using tools like Zoom, Google Chats, etc. for better chat functionality to provide a high level of service.

Companies like Mecca have launched their virtual services to replace the instore experience during COVID-19 and CUE launched their virtual styling service to interact with their clients and help them select and style them.

From personal experience, my wife has been very impressed with the CUE’s staff who were able to help find the style my wife was looking for and therefore my wife bought several pieces of clothing instead of one. This was before COVID-19, but the expertise would be the same in a virtual experience and arguably be even more important for the customer.


Social shopping and live shopping events

The transition from instore to virtual is already a far lesser step for the younger generation. They are already fully engaged online. In 2021 the line between social media and online shopping will get increasingly blurry. Social platforms are already starting to integrate online shopping into the default “home” screen of the platform fighting for the user’s attention and revenue.

Instagram and Facebook rolled out their latest updates in late 2020, where social shopping became more prominently featured through apps like WhatsApp and TikTok so that brands can leverage their “active / online” users to SHOP NOW.

Social media platforms see and feel the pressure of their counterpart in Asia where WeChat shopping, payments and live shopping have been integrated for several years. In 2021, there will be even less friction in terms of converting an active and engaged follower to a paying one.


Reducing false declines

This more fluid and multichannel way of doing business will require the cooperation of other parts of the business to get on board in accepting less ridged ways of viewing fraud.

And because consumer shopping behaviours have changed so much in the last few months, fraud screening programs will require updating too. Merchants must change their fraud rules to reflect the way people are shopping now, while also ensuring that their fraud rules aren’t too stringent. At ClearSale we see time and time again that consumers are less likely to place an order with a merchant after a false decline. In fact, our recent study conducted by Sapio Research shows that 33% of consumers say they’ll never shop with the merchant again after their payment is declined and 25% are likely to say something negative on social media after their payment is declined. 

Retailers with high false declines rates run the risk of alienating or offending customers when orders are being declined by restrictive fraud prevention rules.

At ClearSale our approach is that we never reject orders automatically, instead we manually check every order that is flagged as potentially fraudulent to ensure we are not declining a good order. According to our research with Aite Group, 60% of merchants report that their fraud prevention solutions automatically decline 3.1% to 10%of all transactions. Manual review allows us to provide merchants with a higher percentage of additional revenue that would have been lost and labelled as fraud by others who rely solely on AI or a fraud scoring method.

Ralph Kooi is country manager Australia for ClearSale.

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