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BY KENNY TSANG

3 TRANSFORMATIVE E-COMMERCE TRENDS FOR A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

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e are all currently feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic — a crisis that has completely changed the way we interact, view, and engage with day-to-day life. Over 75% of companies have experienced negative impacts due to COVID-19, and disruption to supply chains in 2020 has exposed America’s overreliance on one country for sourcing. E-commerce merchants — already part of a growing industry — were put under the spotlight during the crisis that forced huge waves of consumers online. Naturally, the unprecedented uptake in activity resulted in stock shortages and fulfillment issues, forcing merchants to consider new approaches. Forecasts suggested global e-commerce sales would increase by 19% by the end of 2020, and while there is no way of knowing for certain whether the trajectory will continue into 2021, some trends and changes are appearing to be more permanent than others. In the face of future disruption, it will be

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vital now, more than ever, to anticipate what could happen. To prepare for what is to come, expect these three upcoming trends in 2021: 1. Growth of the online marketplace During the pandemic, we have seen mass disruption across a multitude of sectors lead to an unsurprising reliance on e-commerce, with global online marketplaces pivotal to their expansion. Platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Taobao have all experienced record growth this year — essentially becoming the international “virtual malls” of the future. So much so, that almost half of online shoppers admit to heading straight to a large e-commerce marketplace when making a purchase, with $1.97 trillion spent in 2019. The once localized market reserved for brick-and-mortar stores has gone global, with sellers and consumers alike realizing the variety of products available online. Exclusive online marketplace sales including Prime Day and Singles Day have almost generated double of their

year-on-year revenue — growing an international presence is easier than ever before. By utilizing the right logistical and visibility tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, progressive web apps (pwas), cognitive supply chain management, and subscription services, experienced sellers can continue to capitalize on a cross-border market that is expected to grow 27% to reach nearly $5 trillion by 2026. The new normal of fast delivery Changes in consumer behavior geared towards quick, efficient, and easy delivery times have set the pace merchants will need to match. One-day delivery, a previously expensive and less prioritized option for shoppers, has become normalized through subscription-based services, and in 2021, we could see a huge 80% of consumers prefer same-day or fast delivery. Lengthy online delivery times affect sales, with over a third of online shoppers citing long delivery times as one of the key reasons to shop in store.

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