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In this article our Recruitment Board Director, Laura Walters, reflects on the struggles of 2020 and hears from the experts working in eCommerce, that anticipate 2021 will continue to have it's own unique challenges.  

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I agree with Nicki Capstick, Marketing Director at PrettyLittleThing.com when she says,

I think it is difficult to tell at this point but a part of it (2021) for us will be driving YoY growth in certain categories which took off organically over the lockdown period.”

Businesses will need to continue to make their eCommerce offering more sophisticated to keep up with competition and this means using data and findings to provide actionable insights into the wider business.

 

Steph Linton, Head of Marketing at LullaBellz has touched on the investment in brand and how businesses need to think smart to move forwards. Steph believes that,

Looking ahead to 2021, post-pandemic marketeers will undoubtedly have to quickly adapt to not only a recovering economy, but a new economy altogether. 2020 certainly shifted consumer spending habits, with mixed economical results. As an online business we have benefitted in many ways to the pandemic-driven spike in online shopping habits, but the increased competition will inevitably lead to an increase in digital ad spend and a requirement to work even smarter in 2021.

In 2020 we saw the nation pull together, clap on doorsteps, deliver food to children in need and volunteer on social media to pick up essentials. The 'conscience' that the year has amplified in all of us is likely to propel social issues into consumer buying habits, I predict we will see brands using their voice to take a stand on such issues in 2021 and beyond.”

 

Jamie Lyons, UK Head of Digital Product Development at PHD describes,

The appeal of short-termism - the pandemic has really focussed attention on the opportunity presented by ecommerce, this however brings with it a sense of urgency and focus on immediate returns which can undermine sustainable effectiveness. By all means plan for next month but be sure to consider how any activity also ladders into your plans for the next 12 months and beyond.’ He also touched on ‘How the cookie crumbles - conversations continue about Google Chrome ‘sunsetting’ the cookie, potentially in 2022 – but there’s no agreement as to a universal replacement. Unless a consensus is reached on the future path, we may be on borrowed time when it comes to ad targeting and measurement.’ Jamie also mentioned the subject that we all have in our thoughts, ‘Brexit- so many unknowns!’’

 

Brand Director Consultant - Hilary James believes that,

“Consumer buying patterns have changed during Covid. Lots more people are buying essentials online, purchases that they would have purchased in the shops normally. I'm talking bog roll and bleach. Certain Demographics just do not want to go to shops anymore, particularly the elderly and frail. BUT this represents a supply chain / availability and comms challenge, as these demographics are not always easy to communicate with via eCommerce channels.”

Secondly, Hilary discussed how “Customers are going to be far more purposeful with their shopping. There will be fewer £££s available for many, particularly when furlough ends. But customers will increasingly want their purchasing power to be meaningful, they'll want to shop at retailers who have real brand purpose, who are seen to give back. BUT, with many stores closed, how do you convey brand purpose in an ecommerce setting? Storytelling and Brand Value are hard to convey in the classic ecommerce sense, so this will be a real challenge.”

With even more pressure on supply chain, a demand for smarter, faster and more personalised experiences, both in terms of shopping and services, everyone will need to be at the top of their game. Business that were one behind will invest and catch up and as the high street builds itself back up, brands will need to offer a joined-up experience across all touchpoints, including customer care to ensure that customers are getting the best of everything. I personally believe that there is a place for bricks and mortar alongside the increasingly smart ecommerce platforms. As we have seen with supermarkets joining up technology with in store shopping and experience and with local independents offering even higher levels of customer care, more delivery opportunities and the hospitality offering incredible ‘at home’ experiences, I am confident that 2021 will bring with it some innovative and forward thinking movements but at the end of the day, brand will once again be at the forefront with trust in brands and services needing being at an all-time high.

 

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