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What’s next for e-commerce: an analyst look at the trends ahead 

August 31, 2021

As the world is emerging from the worst of the pandemic lockdown, the eBay Open US event took some time to look at what has changed - and what’s ahead - in the retail industry. 

Here is what Sucharita Kodali, VP / Principal Analyst at Forrester, identified as the main trends that sellers should be aware of.  

A new landscape 

The post-covid consumers are still worried about economic insecurity and the extent of economic recovery from the pandemic. It is no wonder, then, that their attitude to money is cautious, with 56% saying they are careful when it comes to spending money, and 50% cutting back on expenses. 

As a result of this uncertainty, many are putting off aspirational purchases and focusing instead on spending on the essentials. A good example of this are car sales: new car sales dropped dramatically and used car demand has shot through the roof.  

In spite of this, there is a silver lining. Consumer confidence is slowly gaining the ground lost last year, and in the US is higher than it was in 2020, with all markers pointing towards a solid recovery.  

What matters to consumers 

In this new landscape, buyers watch their pennies more than ever. According to her findings, 77% of consumers take the time to research good deals when they shop. Moreover, 39% choose a new retailer because they offer the best price. Kodali’s conclusion? Promotions and sales are the primary drivers of first-time purchases.  

However, shopping attitudes when it comes to pricing have shifted perceptibly in the last year and a half. Only 32% want to buy cheap: a majority don’t just want to buy at a lower cost - other factors matter to them, too. Increasingly, the balance between brand, quality and value is what really decides where they spend their money. It’s the full package.  

Social issues and beyond 

Another raising concern for consumers is corporate social responsibility. Increasingly, customers want to buy from companies that are committed in their stance.  

Information confidentiality and data privacy are the issues that consumers see as most important, but they also value a host of other factors, from giving back to the local community, to a company’s adherence to environmental protections, corporate ethics, animal rights, gender and racial equality and support of LGBTQ causes.  

The shift is noticeable, and many companies are embracing it to transition from a shareholder capitalism strategy to more of a stakeholder-focused capitalism model.  

It is without a doubt that the pandemic has accelerated change in many areas. If you are an online merchant, taking note of these trends and acting upon them can help ensure you give your customers what you want. So, are you ready for what’s next? 

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