ECommerce went on a wild ride in 2020 due to the global pandemic. We haven’t defeated COVID-19 yet, so some of the eCommerce product trends from 2020 are likely to continue into 2021. That includes the bump in eCommerce sales: online spending grew by more than 30% during the pandemic and should continue to rise in 2021. Within this upward trend, several eCommerce product categories did particularly well last year and are likely to continue to grow.
The big question for sellers is how to take advantage of online sales trends to grow your business. A great place to start is with the eCommerce product categories that are likely to grow in 2021.
Best-selling eCommerce product categories of 2020
In 2020, consumers all over the world stayed close to home. Here are some of the product categories that won the buy box as a result.
- Home exercise equipment. Stationary bikes and other workout gear replaced trips to the gym.
- Electronics. The uptick in consumer electronics sales was driven not only by working from home but by the demands of remote education, which meant that even the youngest schoolchildren needed a device and access to the internet.
- Meal boxes and kitchen accessories. Meal box companies did well. And the trend for home baking and cooking had consumers upgrading their kitchenware.
- Gaming. Video games, consoles, and other gaming equipment had a banner year in 2020.
- Creative home entertainment. For those who wanted to unplug, puzzles were a popular choice, along with art and craft supplies.
- Furniture. Spending more time at home motivated some shoppers to order new furniture to spruce up their quarantine. Home improvement products also got a boost from the pandemic.
Trend: What wasn’t selling in 2020
Apparel took a big hit in 2020. Zoom meetings don’t require a full work outfit, so, not surprisingly, shirt sales increased while fewer people ordered new pants and shoes. One apparel category that got a bump during the pandemic was sweats and other casual clothing.
7 eCommerce product categories to watch in 2021
Two big questions that loom over 2021 make eCommerce product trend predictions challenging.
- How soon will most consumers feel safe going back to brick-and-mortar shopping?
- Will online shopping growth in 2020 persist through 2021 and beyond?
It’s tough to predict the answers to those two questions. In the U.S., experts hope that we’ll have a handle on COVID-19 by the third or fourth quarter of 2021. However, new variants are a wild card that may throw a wrench in those plans.
Whenever life begins to return to normal, expect a new normal for consumer shopping habits. Some shoppers who shopped online for the first time in 2020 will continue to buy online. Others who expanded their shopping to add new eCommerce product categories may continue to buy a broader range of goods online. No one knows how pronounced these shopping behavior trends will be and what effect they will have on the trajectory of eCommerce retail market share.
Here are seven eCommerce product categories that are poised for expansion in 2021.
Products geared toward older consumers
Boomers and older shoppers have never been as comfortable with online shopping as millennials and other younger consumers. However, older people were especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and, therefore, more likely to avoid in-person shopping.
Products aimed at older consumers were already something of an underserved category in eCommerce. Now that more older generations have become comfortable shopping online, products that appeal to seniors’ needs and tastes are a growth category in eCommerce.
Video gaming products
Video gaming was popular before the pandemic, and it will continue to be popular after. You don’t have to be a game developer to cash in on this eCommerce product category. Makers of gaming accessories such as headsets, computer mice, and gaming chairs can expect their winning streak to continue.
Micromobility: Bikes and scooters
With gyms closed, bike riding saw a surge in popularity in 2020. As people start to venture farther from home, bikes and scooters will provide socially-distanced transportation and a green alternative to getting in a car. Bikes and scooters won’t be the only hot items; with so many new or returning riders, bike accessories should do well, too. Sales of everything from helmets and gloves to bike bags and clothing are a good bet in 2021.
As people make up for missed vacations in 2021, outdoor adventures will be a popular COVID-safe choice. Sales of camping equipment and other outdoor gear rose in 2020 and should stay strong through 2021.
Disaster preparedness supplies
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we live in an unpredictable world. Sales of disaster prepper supplies have trended up. The beginning of 2021 shows no sign of letting up on the natural disaster front. Backup power supplies, water purification tools, emergency food, PPE, and other preparedness supplies will be eCommerce products to watch in 2021.
CBD products are legal in all 50 states, and eCommerce sales have been steadily rising for several years. This cannabis derivative has found its way into everything from oils to candies to smoothies. In 2020, CBD products benefited from consumers’ increased focus on wellness items. This eCommerce product category should continue to expand in 2021 and beyond.
To-go containers aren’t something you normally think of as an eCommerce product category, mainly because they are B2B rather than B2C products. With restaurants closed for indoor dining or offering only limited capacity, the demand for takeout containers has soared. If you offer products in this category that connect with the trend toward green and sustainable products, you should have a winner.
2 post-quarantine eCommerce sales trends to watch
The trends in 2021 won’t all be shaped by living with COVID. In fact, when people start to move more freely, consumer spending patterns are likely to change. Here, we preview two eCommerce product categories that could see a large uptick in demand later in 2021.
The travel industry, one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy during the pandemic, could experience a rebound once more people feel comfortable moving around more. After all, what is the first thing many people want to do after being cooped up at home for months? Get on a plane and go somewhere. This eCommerce product category is likely to bounce back in a big way, with increased sales of luggage and other travel accessories.
For the past year, most people have connected with their coworkers and friends through a screen. So, when we can mingle again, pent-up demand for new apparel items should give this struggling eCommerce product category a boost.
How to take advantage of best-selling eCommerce product categories in 2021
The best way to be ready to jump into trending eCommerce product categories is to have your supply chain prepped and ready to go. Well-functioning eCommerce fulfillment operations put you in the perfect position to take advantage of success. Reliable inventory forecasts will help you prepare for a surge in order volume.
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