Did you know 2020 was a leap year? That’s right, this year was literally longer than any other (well at least since 2016) – and you thought you were imagining it! To some, it felt like an extra decade!
No matter how you’re feeling about 2020, we can all agree that just about everything changed – from how we celebrated holidays and birthdays (seriously… drive-by parties!) to how we shopped.
Thankfully, when the coronavirus passes, we can expect much will eventually get back to normal, but I predict that what will likely not change is the digital landscape, especially E-Commerce.
Everything is online now and, looking ahead to next year, it’s going to stay there.
A number of trends saw an increase in temperature this year and here are the big four I think are going to remain hot, or get hotter, in 2021.
1. DIY E-Commerce platforms
We’ve all made so many purchases online since last spring – I know someone in New York who bought a foam surfboard from a distributor in Southern California on eBay and had it shipped to his apartment on the Upper West Side!
The trend here isn’t just shopping online but small retailers’ use of DIY eCommerce platforms like Amazon, Facebook Shops and Shopify.
Amazon Stores give entrepreneurs the benefit of having the Amazon brand behind them; users can create and customize a dedicated brand destination on Amazon with a self-service Store at no additional cost with “Amazon” in the URL.
As of today, the stores are global, with stores selling products on every continent except South America (and Antarctica).
Facebook Shops make it easy to create an online store, like Amazon and Shopify, but the bonus here for entrepreneurs is a single shop experience that works on both Facebook and Instagram. Even auto dealers are using Facebook Shops.
Facebook Shops is free and, going forward, the platform will enable businesses to sell products to customers through the chat features of WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct, and to tag products during livestreams.
Shopify recently published its inaugural Future of Commerce report, which will outline annual e-commerce growth starting this year.
Shopify said it saw unprecedented growth this year, with new store creation growing 71% in Q2 2020 compared to Q1 2020, and a record number of merchants added to the platform in Q3. The company predicts 2021 will only advance this trend.
All three of these platforms will heat up next year, particularly as the importance of contactless payments and non-contact pickup options increases.
I’m sad to say it, but I don’t think we’re going back to the movies for a long time, and this means streaming services like AppleTV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix and, of course, Amazon Prime with 100 million members and SVOD (streaming video on demand), are here to stay.
Need proof? Look no further than Warner Brothers’ recent deal with HBO Max: every single one of Warner Brothers’ 2021 movies will debut in theaters and on HBO Max at the same time.
What this means is one of Hollywood’s biggest studios is no longer banking on cinemas. We’re consuming content at home, and this will only increase next year. Netflix has 137 million subscribers, with Hulu lagging at about 20 million. AppleTV+? JP Morgan predicts it’ll hit 100 million subscribers by 2025.
We’re not going to the movies, nor, for the most part, are we going back to the office. Remote work, one of the dominant trends of the COVID-19 pandemic, isn’t going anywhere (pun intended). While there’s little about the pandemic we can say was fortunate, I think we can agree we’re lucky it happened now, when we have the technology that makes e-commerce, streaming and working from home possible – imagine if COVID-19 had hit 10 or 15 years ago?
As for working remotely, I think my colleague Forbes contributor, Daniel Newman, nails it:
“Even as economies slowly reopen and employees are finally allowed to return to work, companies will continue to be tasked with protecting employees from possible outbreak resurgences. Many big tech companies like Google and Facebook have extended already their work from home policies through or for parts of 2021. Even smaller companies are keeping this newfound flexibility as an operational option.”
A lot of us did our best to stay out of doctors’ offices and hospitals during the pandemic, and telemedicine made it possible for many of us to receive treatment without having to leave home via patient portals and virtual appointments.
According to McKinsey & Company, consumer adoption of telemedicine has grown exponentially, from 11% of U.S. consumers in 2019 to 46% now using telemedicine to replace cancelled health care visits because of the pandemic; medical providers are seeing 50 to 175 times the number of patients via telemedicine than they did before.
Prior to the pandemic, total annual revenue of U.S. telemedicine providers was estimated at $3B. With the acceleration of consumer and provider adoption of telemedicine, and because of the extension of telemedicine beyond virtual urgent care, it’s possible $250B of current U.S. health care spend could be virtualized.
So, 2021 is going to look a lot like 2020, but…better? What do you think? Drop me a line at LinkedIn – and enjoy the New Year’s celebrations… something tells me it’s going to be a big (yet socially distant) one!
Scott Hirsch is an internationally recognized expert in ecommerce, data, analytics and digital marketing. He has helped pioneer some of the most utilized data technology concepts commonly used today, including opt-in email, E-appending, Digital Data/Media Marketing (SEO, Google Ads, and Social Media Management), affiliate marketing and DIY Application Development.