3 emerging eCommerce trends eBay sellers need to know

eBay does everything in our power to provide resources and education for sellers to thrive in our marketplace. That’s why we asked Forrester, a leading market research firm, to speak at our 2021 eBay Open Online event to share their latest research on eCommerce trends. What does their data tell us about the future of commerce and online marketplaces? Let’s break it down: 

  1. The future is bright for eCommerce. Sellers need to increase their investments in eCommerce and online marketplaces.
  2. COVID-19 has greatly impacted consumer behavior, specifically in retail, creating new parameters for decision making in the shopping journey that sellers should be aware of.
  3. Sellers need to have a holistic marketing strategy for the 2021 holiday season in order to take advantage of this shift to eCommerce.

The future of eCommerce

Let’s address the digital elephant in the room. The biggest questions asked by brands and sellers right now is “How much of what has happened in the pandemic will last? Will the gains in eCommerce stick?” 

Short answer – Yes. 

Frequent readers of the eBay Ads blog already knew that. We’ve been preaching about the bright future of eCommerce since the release of our COVID-19 Reopen study back in June. Our study showed that 1 in 4 shoppers are doing more of their shopping online even after restrictions relaxed and stores re-opened.

Graph showing the overall growth of eCommerce penetration in the retail market

Forrester presented similar eCommerce trends as a result of the 2020 boom. The amount of online shopping people did during the pandemic grew eCommerce by 30%. By the end of 2020, eCommerce accounted for 20% of all retail purchases. Although no one expects to see that big of gains year over year, Forrester’s updated forecast expects eCommerce to increase another 8% by 2024. That means every 1 in 4 purchases someone makes will be online.

However, eCommerce also means adding a whole lot of complexity to the buying process. With so many digital touchpoints, the buyer has more options than ever to find and purchase items. However, that also means more opportunity for sellers to be discovered and expand their customer base with channels like social media, blogs and review sites. And don’t forget about mobile. Forrester found that 82% of those shopping online are making purchases on a mobile device. Even more, Forrester found that mobile commerce is approximating almost half of all ecommerce sales in the US, according to Julie Ask.

Because of this, eBay sellers who want to solidify their place in this eCommerce future need to invest time and resources into marketing their products and services in order to stay competitive. On eBay, the best entry point for kicking off a new marketing strategy is by using Promoted Listings Standard. A self-service product, Promoted Listings Standard offers sellers the best jumping off point to get their listings in front of eBay shoppers, at a budget you can set yourself. Bidding on relevant and competitive keywords is also critical to making sure your listings show up throughout someone’s shopping journey across the eBay marketplace. 

New behaviors

A shopper’s behavior usually reflects their current attitude towards the economy. According to Forrester, 56% of today’s shoppers said “given the state of the economy and my personal finances, I must be very careful how I spend my money.” Because of those feelings, shoppers aren’t defaulting to quickly buying the cheapest item appearing in their search. In fact, we’re seeing consumers dedicating more time to researching products before clicking the “Buy Now” button. Shoppers still want quality products at a good value from sellers they care about, and are willing to take their time to find the right item for them. Our research shows that Millennial Mom shoppers on eBay research four different brands on average over the course of 26 days before making a purchase. 

Regardless of the current economic insecurities, Forrester is seeing consumer confidence rank much higher than last year as unemployment rates drop. Making sure your store and products are discoverable is the key to getting in front of these shoppers. One of the ways sellers can stand out on eBay is through transparency. Informing sellers about the finer details of a product in your listing and having quality images of the item will help assure buyers they are making a good decision purchasing from you. Sellers can visit our eBay Seller Center for more details about creating the perfect listing.

Additionally, having promotions and coupons is another great way to attract and retain loyal customers. If sellers are able to create a strong, trustworthy, transparent brand, with quality products at a reasonable price, buyers are much more likely to turn into repeat customers. 

Using these steps to build trust with your consumer base will lead to more selling opportunities for your store. 

2021 Holiday season will be massive

Although the 2021 holiday sales season is going to be bigger than last year, Forrester expects to see a slightly lower overall growth rate. This shouldn’t be alarming. The effects of COVID-19 made 2020 experience the highest sales rate jump in the past decade. And while it’s not as drastic of a growth spurt as last year, Forrester still expects 2021 will see eCommerce gains.

A graph showing the year-over-year growth in online holiday retail sales through 2020. The graph shows online retail growth starting at 13% in 2010 and eventually rising to a forecasted 24% by the end of 2020.
Online holiday retail sales YoY growth. Source: Consumer Technographics Retail & Travel Topic Insights 2 Survey, 2019. Country: US | Base: 4818 Online adults

Holiday shopping brings an opportunity to grow your customer base and store for the future. We continue to see that consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier and earlier each year. This means sellers need to start advertising as early as September to make sure they don’t miss out on those early bird shoppers. 

By taking advantage of eBay Ads products, sellers give themselves the best chance to find success this holiday season. Last year, Cozy Array partnered with us to leverage our Primary Premium Deals and Promoted Listings portfolio during the month of November. And the results speak for themselves. Cozy Array achieved overnight success with a 66:1 return on their advertising spend during the height of the holiday sales season.

As our economy is still on the road to recovery, we know there are still a lot of unknowns, but the data from Forrester tells us that we are only going to continue to see eCommerce grow. It can be daunting for sellers to keep track of all the latest trends to stay top of mind, so when thinking about the future of eCommerce trends, remember…

  • The purchase journey is complex and involves many digital touchpoints. 
  • Promotions and sales are crucial for first-time purchasers from new brands and sellers because price is the biggest driver of conversion.
  • Bringing shoppers back to your store will take more than a good promotion or coupon to lower your prices. Shoppers want a quality product, at a good price, from a seller they trust.
  • The holiday season is going to be huge. Start advertising today or risk losing your marketing advantage.

eBay’s holistic advertising solutions offer a wide range of opportunities for sellers of any size to take advantage of. Get started today with Promoted Listings Standard or reach out to your partner at eBay Ads to take advantage of additional placements and products like Primary Premium Deals. Hurry – inventory is going fast.

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