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Covid-19 Second Wave: E-commerce trends to watch in 2021

By Ayomide Oriade

When the wave of covid-19 swept from the street of Wuhan to other corners of the world in the year 2020, businesses were forced to think on their feet for survival strategies. Health and safety measures enforced by authorities across global borders crippled business activities. Digital platforms sustained what was left of business activities. The year turned out to be a massive one for ecommerce brands globally.

With the second wave of the virus raging like a wild wind, the narrative signals to be the same in 2021, with certain trends expected to be at the forefront of online shopping activities:

Exponential Growth of Online Marketplace: online sales are forecasted to reach $4.5 trillion in 2021, with consumers’ choice for comfort and safety being contributing factors to the exponential growth. Covid-19 variants are spreading at an alarming rate and authorities are responding with the enforcement of lockdown to prevent spread. As restrictions get stricter, customers are bound to become more health-conscious, thus, online marketplaces are expected to provide ease, convenience, and safety at this crucial period. Ecommerce brands with products that help stay safe while providing the best shopping experience will thrive.

The continuous rise of mobile shopping: Another trend slated for growth is that of mobile shopping. Sales from mobile ecommerce are forecasted to increase by 15%, with mobile accounting for 73% of ecommerce sales during the year. More people are embracing mobile devices in Africa in recent years. Likewise, more customers are expected to use their mobile devices for online shopping, thus translating to more downloads and usage of mobile apps of the likes of Jumia and Jiji.

Better payment processing: One of the challenges of ecommerce particularly on the African continent is the itches usually associated with e-payment systems. Many customers cancel purchases at checkout points due to this. To address the difficulty, ecommerce brands are providing in-platforms payment options to facilitate better payment processing that helps reduce unresolved payment issues for customers. In-platform payment options like JumiaPay enable seamless payment for customers on the Jumia platform. And this will also come in handy for customers on the platform as it helps eliminate the risk associated with the cash on delivery payment option.

Contactless delivery: Adherence to social distancing guidelines means ecommerce platforms will have to keep the contactless delivery option open for customers. The Jumia contactless delivery agents were crucial during the national lockdown in African countries in 2020. The platform is also expected to sustain the option for its customers during the year, even as more African countries are considering the introduction of total lockdown.

Social media shopping: Forward-thinking businesses are also expected to embrace the ecommerce options of social media platforms. According to experts, 2020 propelled ecommerce forward by about five years. Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, and Whatsapp all introduced features supporting businesses on their platforms. Though small businesses deploy these platforms for product displays, their reach cannot be compared to that of big online stores. Major ecommerce platforms are known to also extend their adverts to these platforms. This is an added advantage for small businesses and brands that put their products on bigger online stores.

Improved Local shopping: Another big impact of ecommerce in 2020 was the boost it gave to local products that embraced the digital marketplace. According to a recent Food Index Report by Jumia, local meals dominated orders on the platform when compared to intercontinental dishes. Picking up from where 2020 left off, local products, especially those who partner online marketplaces are also expected to sustain popularity and patronage in the new year.

Improved customized packaging: Branding is fast becoming consumer-centric and ecommerce companies are expected to excite their customers with unique packaging to stand out from competitors. Durability, aesthetics are some packaging attributes that can endear customers to their ecommerce brands.

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