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PREDICTIONS 2021 Changing consumer behaviours

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We’re running a series of predictions about how the ecommerce and multichannel retail industry will develop in 2021 and beyond. Today we focus on changing consumer behaviours and expectations. 


The increase in importance of visual customer content

“As consumers move to purchasing even more products online throughout 2020 and into 2021, it will lead to a further rise in the volume of visual UGC that we see not only on the product page, but in brands’ marketing and social presence. In fact, 66% of online shoppersare more likely to purchase a product if the website has social media posts with pictures/videos from real customers. They’re seeking it out themselves as well —  25% of shoppers report actively searching for photos or videos of real people using a specific product or brand. Consumers expect to see authentic visual UGC when shopping for products across all platforms, meaning that brands must have a robust strategy in place to ensure that they deliver that visual experience.”

Keith Nealon, CEO, Bazaarvoice


Engaging with consumers

“The acceleration of online shopping in 2020 surfaced both changes in how consumers are choosing to shop as well as what they’re purchasing. The shift in consumer behaviour we’ve seen this year provides a compass for how brands and retailers should engage with audiences to inspire their purchasing decisions. Retailers should inspire consumers by creating an online shopping experience that feels more like the ’real life’ experience of browsing the aisles. Brands should focus on showing up in a positive online environment, which research has shown transfers directly to brand trust and purchase intent.

“In 2021, the brands and retailers who leverage insights and focus on engaging with consumers early in their shopping journey will turn them into customers through visually inspiring ideas that reach them at just the right moment.” 

Milka Kramer, UK and Ireland Country Manager, Pinterest

Customer loyalty as a key business KPI

2020 has shown that loyalty is more important than ever, and keeping customers sticky is crucial in such a competitive market. Statistics reveal that 56% of customers feel more loyal to brands who understand their needs and expectations.

In 2021, retailers will offer a more competitive service by connecting the online and offline delivery experiences. Providing customers with detailed information to meet their every command and query will ensure a new type of customer loyalty that is built on an exceptional delivery experience. With new customers in the market – particularly those who have been forced online due to the pandemic – blending a consistent online and offline experience will increase the chances of converting these customers on a permanent basis, even when a cheaper product offer may be available elsewhere. What’s clear is that customers are becoming an increasingly valuable currency.

David Grimes, CEO, Sorted 



Transparent communications 

“We predict that retailers will need to communicate more with their customers, but in much smarter ways. The rules of engagement have changed and now we’re all spending more time living, working and socialising online, how we’re approached will need to change too. Customers are showing us that they want to be informed about the choices they make and understand the motives of the brands they’re transacting with, so retailers may need to lift the veil a little and show who they really are.

“What will be crucial for success this year is effective communication with customers and a thorough understanding of customer behaviour when they do return.” 

Natasha Abel, Head of Retail Partnerships, Flux



Consumers will expect instant gratification when sharing their data.

Consumers will continue to grow more comfortable sharing preference data with brands so long as they receive value from the exchange. We predict that customers will increasingly expect relevant experiences to modulate in real time, with consumers receiving almost instant gratification for their data sharing. Consumers will grow less loyal to brands they engage with but relevancy will be a key differentiator and source of revenue driving value for companies.

Tracey Ryan O’Connor, VP of North America, Qubit 



Total Customer Experience

Rather than just a transaction, customer product brands need to think about providing holistic brand experience to consumers – from product discovery, customer support, to fulfilment.”

Scott Clarke, Vice President, Consumer Products at digital consultancy Publicis Sapient

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