In 2021, there is no question that ecommerce is going to continue to gain traction even as people venture back into brick and mortar stores at pre‑pandemic levels.

Adam Mittelberg, president and chief marketing officer of Datasys

2020 is finally behind us, and it looks like the COVID19 pandemic, which has been boiling over since last March, may finally be simmering down.

Vaccines have arrived, and the population is finally getting them. Though their capacity remains limited, gyms are open and after closures in some states, we are starting to see a return to limited indoor dining. It’s going to be another unusual year, for sure, but it’s starting to feel like we’re making some progress.

Things are changing, but what probably won’t change, perhaps in our lifetime, is the unbridled growth of ecommerce. People stayed home last year, even from supermarkets, and many businesses made successful transitions to online models. A recent Digital Commerce 360 article compiles an overview of the astonishing changes the pandemic brought to ecommerce worldwide in 2020:

  • Ecommerce sales hit $791.70 billion in 2020, up 32.4% from $598.02 billion in the prior year, according to Commerce Department figures.
  • In 2020, ecommerce accounted for 19.6% of total U.S. retail sales, a nearly 25% increase over 2019 (15.8%).
  • Last year, 17% of shoppers made their first online grocery purchase, contributing to a 100% increase in online food and grocery sales.
  • Additional staggering year-over-year gains were seen in toys and hobbies retailers (63.1%), consumer electronics (61.5%) and hardware/home improvement (52%).

Ecommerce gains traction

There is no question that ecommerce is going to continue to gain traction even as people begin venturing back into brick and mortar stores at pre-pandemic levels. The pandemic demonstrated that consumers could purchase just about everything online and delivered.

While storefronts and showrooms will continue to have their place in the global shopping schema, some shoppers will stay online. What retailers and digital marketers need to do now is develop a concrete plan to tackle this new hybrid shopping model. Here are a few ideas, thanks to James Urbati at

  • Implement a master data management (MDM) strategy: optimize product data to ensure your customers have accurate and consistent information about your products and services; you should also consider MDM to create the best possible customer journeys.
  • Make your customers’ experience seamlessly convenient. If it takes them more than a few clicks to get what they want, they’ll head elsewhere.
  • Pay careful attention to inventory. Keep track of your supply chain and look ahead to anticipate any gaps. If you’re out of stock (online or in-store), your customers will, again, head elsewhere.

Marketing trends

Do not forget the value of direct emails. Keep your distribution list up to date and make sure to keep building it. At ecomdash, blogger Matt Ellis had some great insight into the ecommerce landscape for 2021:

  • According to Accenture, 41% of shoppers won’t patronize a retailer that doesn’t reflect diversity and inclusion; 29% will find a retailer whose values include diversity and inclusivity (these figures increase with minority shoppers).
  • “Buy now, pay later” applications are gaining popularity. Like credit cards, these apps enable customers to make purchases on your site and then pay for them, in installments, over time. The retailer gets paid upfront, while the payment company collects the installments directly from the customer. Afterpay and Zip-Quadpay are just two of these apps.
  • Dynamic pricing—changing prices instantly in a particular channel to beat the competition—will be a key trend this year. You can accomplish it with automatic repricing tools that follow competitors’ prices and update yours in response, but make sure your customers can make their purchase at a reduced price regardless of what channel they’re on. This is critical to building trust and brand loyalty.

Consider price matching

One of the retailers who has demonstrated a strong online customer promise is New York Metropolitan Area appliance giant P.C. Richard & Sons. If you find an identical item advertised at a lower price at a competitor, the retailer P.C. Richard will refund 100% of the difference between the price you paid and the competitor’s advertised price. Consumers also can alert them to a competitor’s lower price for an item at their stores and P.C. Richard will beat it. This is an excellent policy, one that retailers should strongly consider in ecommerce programs in 2021.

P.C. Richard is also a great digital transformation story. The company has been in business for 111 years. And here they are, in 2021, setting a few ecommerce standards. It’s a lesson for everyone looking to succeed online. If they can make a shift, you can too.

I like to make an analogy between great ecommerce and great cooking. You must have great tools, fresh ingredients, willing diners and the passion for seeing the entire process through to completion. Success in the kitchen requires the constant refinement of ideas and techniques, which 2021 will ask of ecommerce programs and digital marketers worldwide. Now, get cooking!

Datasys is a data, analytics and digital media firm. It offers suite of ad tech platforms to analyze, strategize and execute customer acquisition or retention campaigns.