With E-Commerce Surging, Brands Need to Win the Digital Environment in 2021

January 28, 2021

In the current digital-led retail environment, brands and retailers alike are competing to drive revenue at profitable margins, while gaining more customers that have shifted predominantly to shopping online.

Within the retail space, in particular, huge amounts of competition have arisen and the market has become more and more saturated. With so many new players, how can brands thrive in an ever-crowded space?

Our EMEA retail experts met up last month to share their thoughts and insights surrounding  3 key areas that will drive success for retailers throughout 2021.

Where has COVID changed consumer habits?

Recent studies have shown that e-commerce has fast-forwarded by around 3 or 4 years, and with this, consumer expectation has become higher than ever. In the UK alone, online sales have risen 32% over the past year, with this number expecting to stay comfortably above 20% throughout the next 12 months. Revenue is exceeding expectations across all categories, in particular – and unsurprisingly – furniture, food and fashion have exploded. We are expecting this to continue, with a forecasted 70% growth in 2021.

Check out the clip from our event referencing this below:

Becoming a Customer-Centric Brand

What does it really mean to put the customer first? We no longer live in a world where brands use their marketing tactics to push their desired message; rather, brands must move towards finding a way of telling real peoples’ stories in order to connect with their customer.

But how do we know what customers want, in order to engage and connect with them in the right way?

It will come as no surprise that first party data will play a huge role in this. Customers now more than ever are expecting personalized experiences. This means understanding who they are, what they want and how they want to be spoken to. Centralizing first party data is key to building a picture of who your customer is – this means utilizing surveys, chat bots and looking at how users are behaving on your website.

Once we have this data, the real value of it is to utilize customer segments to deliver exciting and authentic experiences, and tailor the media and the messaging according to specific customer needs. Of course, this doesn’t mean forcing content that relates back to your brand’s message, instead delivering authentic experiences that resonate with your audience. In 2021 it’s about being there for your customers when they really need you, and not always thinking of the hard sell.

 Our EMEA Business Director, Emma O’Sullivan, explains this below:

Bringing the best of offline into an online space


According to Whistl, UK customers on average spend £50 more online than they do offline, so when you take into consideration the additional shift of people moving online, we are living in a moment of great opportunity for brands.

To maximize on this potential, it is critical to get your store front in order, truly understand the value of your digital assets, and take advantage of new opportunities to showcase your brand and products.

Imagery, product placement and content are often overlooked and rushed, and don’t necessarily get the attention they deserve. When brands are building offline stores, a lot of thought goes into the layout and psychology of how consumers will behave in store. With the shift to online, the same precision needs to be used when planning e-commerce sites.

So how can brands bring the sensory experiences of real life shopping online? Video and audio are a great way of achieving this, (although note, it is not a best practice to have these launch automatically). It is important to not merely follow what everyone else is doing, but think about how you can bring your products to life, for example, in site, seeing it in a room to get size perspective, and using video of your product in use to really bridge the gap.

A bustling shop will draw people in and create hype; social media is a great way of creating a similar sense of urgency online. Likes, shares, discussion and comments will of course create a sense of buzz, especially if used in an intuitive way. Another way of doing this on site is to show how many people have viewed a product in the past X amount of hours.

Our Head of Organic, Darren Fullerton, shares more in this clip:


Understanding where your customers are, delivering exciting experiences and bringing the offline environment to online, will be the difference between brands that succeed in 2021.

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