As noted in our previous blog, 2020 saw many changes to all industries, including marketing and commerce. While we still don’t know what business models will last beyond the end of the global pandemic, we can see where the new year is going.

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Commerce saw incredible transformation these past few months as businesses initially scrambled to stand up online shops and contactless delivery and curbside-pickup options. And as we move into 2021, we’ll see even more changes, I’m sure.

To help plan for what’s to come, my fellow DEG commerce experts and I identified three major trends we’re already seeing take effect.

1. Delivery methods

Last year, we witnessed a surge in the popularity of new delivery models like BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) and curbside pickup. And we saw shutdowns and store closures upend customers’ usual shopping habits.

These delivery models will have staying power in 2021, especially as consumers continue to adapt their purchasing behavior leading up to the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As we emerge from the pandemic and people can go out more and safely shop in their favorite stores, will they continue to use these delivery models? Or will they go back to the traditional ways of purchasing?

Only time will tell if these new delivery models represent a blip in time or a fundamental shift in the way humans handle commerce. But certainly, in the coming year, retailers will be best served by offering their consumers varied convenient ways to purchase and pick up their goods.

2. The direct-to-consumer model

The direct-to-consumer (DTC) model was already growing in popularity for both established brands and new disruptive brands alike. And while many brands prioritized their DTC plans for 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increased reliance on ecommerce and driven renewed emphasis on DTC models.

The concept of companies marketing, selling, and shipping their products directly to customers, without any middlemen, has been around for years. However, with the pandemic sending the retail industry into disarray and once-reliable retail partners now being in flux, there is a more urgent need for brands to shift to the direct-to-consumer (DTC) approach.

“Nearly two-thirds of U.S. internet users expect to make a purchase from a DTC brand in the next five years.” (Source: Diffusion, 2020 Direct-to-Consumer Purchase Intent Index conducted by YouGov)

The current market volatility has led to an increase in customer demands, changes in customer behavior, and a crucial need for first-party data, all of which have made the direct-to-consumer strategy an intriguing one to both established and up-and-coming brands.

Yet, many traditional brands have been slow to adopt DTC strategies. We expect that to change in 2021.

In the coming year, brands will accelerate their DTC plans, with a strong focus on operationalizing their DTC strategies.

3. Digital commerce solutions

Don’t confuse digital commerce with ecommerce.

Where ecommerce is the buying and selling of goods online, digital commerce encompasses a much wider range of activities—from initial awareness through engagement, conversion, transaction, and repeat purchase. And the digitization of commerce is only expected to increase, particularly as retailers pivot in response to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the coming year, we expect to see more creative ways to market and sell goods and services as brands accelerate their digital commerce strategies.

For example, Chipotle has started rolling out digital-only restaurants in response to a huge surge in online sales. In these locations, consumers order from their smartphones and pick up their orders in streamlined restaurants with no cashier or sit-down service.

We also expect to see a rise in direct-to-consumer partnerships, like the collaboration between Postmates and TikTok around TikTok Treats, featuring the most popular TikTok food trends.

Shifting your commerce strategy

4 Digital Marketing Trends for the New Year

Brick-and-mortar stores and online marketplaces are no longer separate experiences. Consumers expect seamless commerce experiences across platforms, devices, and physical locations.

As you begin executing your strategy for engaging consumers in 2021, consider how a commerce partner like DEG can help you transform your business for long-term growth. For more than 20 years, we’ve built people-focused solutions that enhance the buying experience and increase conversions.

Are you ready to transform your commerce? Let’s talk.

Keep in touch.

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