2020 has been unprecedentedly difficult for most of it - with the outbreak of COVID19 and its continuing impacts to this moment, 2020 has been dynamic, intense, unthinkable, surreal - you name it. PageFly continues to be committed to what's right for our customers and followers.
As the eCommerce environment is transforming itself vigorously, with new opportunities and with it, new barriers, PageFly will be there to ease the burden and help open new doors. Our support team has been, and always be, on duty 24/7, to answer questions and offer resources.
Will 2021 be good? We don't know for sure. 2021 may air on the side of uncertainty, but one thing we can prepare, is to brace ourselves for the worst and embrace the best. No matter what changes, one thing remains the same: We’re here as your partners.
And having you with us, it has been a truly amazing ride:
- PageFly witnessed a 184% growth in app installation - we are privileged to now serve more than 76200 active Shopify merchants from over 120 countries.
- We’re grateful to our dear customers for supportive and constructive feedback - they are the key engine helping us release 24 app versions in 2020 with 30 new features updated.
- We’ve been honored to have 2169 new 5-star reviews in 2020, raising our total numbers of 5-star reviews to 3817. We're proud, and at the same time, committed being humble and anti-complacency. The road is still long and we know we won't stop until we have zero unsatisfied user.
- PageFly now ranks in the top 05 best Shopify Apps on Shopify App Store, the #1 Store Design App, and the #1 Page Builder App on Shopify. We have had the privilege to be featured in the app collections for Germany, France, China and Brazil on Shopify App Store, with PageFly' App now available in 05 languages: English, Chinese, German, French and Portuguese. All of this would not be possible without you.
- We're lucky to get the warmest support, not just from you - our dear customers, but from the Shopify and eCommerce ecosystem as well - our Facebook Group now has over 2200 members and our Fanpage enjoyed 560% growth in followers - with this growing community, we've been able to extend our support by sending out informative and insightful resources weekly and monthly.
For 3 years and counting, PageFly has taken on complex challenges and use our technology to assist others and we wish to continue doing so. Remember, our team is here to help, and we'll be here 24/7.
We've also analyzed and summarized key changes rolled out by Shopify in 2020 and our predictions for important trends you can expect in 2021:
II. Key Shopify Updates in 2020
By pretty much any stretch of the imagination, Shopify has had an unbelievable year.
The eCommerce platform is one of the many SaaS (Software as a Service) products that has ridden the crest of COVID’s waves. It has seen a frankly insane amount of traffic and revenue at a time when people have been looking to make money online and at home.
I mean, just take a look at Shopify’s stocks:
It’s no wonder that this is the case. Shopify has been providing the service for people to run their own businesses for years, but the necessities of 2020 have meant that interest, and stock, have both skyrocketed from early April.
But Shopify have not been resting on their laurels this year. Far from it; they’ve been keeping up with this massive change by making massive changes of their own.
Read on for the key updates to Shopify in 2020, as well as what we might expect from the king of eCommerce in 2021!
Let’s take a look at what Shopify did right in 2020, and how some big shifts in focus opened the door to budding merchants this year:
01. Shopify Payments Keeps Growing
Shopify Payments experienced great development in 2020. Image courtesy of Ecommerce Platforms.
Starting in 2013, Shopify Payments, the native payment gateway that handles transactions, has been growing fast.
Shopify Payments acts as an alternative to third party payment gateways, such as PayPal, Square and Autorize.net. It provides favourable rates to merchants who use it and it also means that those same merchants don’t have to pay any payment processing fee.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, pretty much the only drawback to Shopify Payments is that it can only be used by stores in certain countries. However, Shopify has been working hard to change that.
In 2020, Shopify extended Shopify Payments to Sweden, Austria and Belgium, with plans in 2021 to roll it out to more countries. Not only that, but Shopify also extended the number of currencies accepted by Shopify Payments to 133, meaning that customers from most countries in the world would be able to use the service.
Other improvements to Shopify Payments include:
- Extending payment options to iDEAL and Bancontact, two local payment gateways popular in a handful of European countries.
- Merchants using Shopify Payments can set manual exchange rates for their stores.
Learn more about Shopify Payments in our guide to getting started on Shopify.
02. Shopify Shines the Light on Subscription Services’
Dollar Shave Club have cashed in big on the rising popularity of subscription services. Image courtesy of Hip2Save.
The subscription service doesn’t look to be a bubble that’s going to pop any time soon.
In fact, last year the subscription industry was valued at $10 billion. eCommerce subscription services like Ipsy, Naked Wines and Verve Coffee Roasters have been amongst the most successful, tailoring their model around replenishing the needs of their customers.
For example, Ipsy is a subscription service that sends tailor-made cosmetics to their customers. The company does this every month, after putting a quiz to each customer to find out exactly what they want in their monthly delivery.
The popularity of subscription stores is the sum of their convenience and their scope for personalisation. It’s an equation that has piqued the interest of several Shopify apps, which emerged in 2020 to better serve Shopify merchants wanting to get in on the subscription act.
Here are the best Shopify apps for starting a subscription box service:
These apps help you to set up a sustainable subscription store on Shopify. Amongst other things, they have features for customers to select what goes in their box, and they also help merchants to establish recurring shipment with their subscribers.
We’ve got more on these apps and Shopify’s subscription services here.
05. COVID-19 Support
Of course, we can’t ignore the big reason that Shopify experienced insane growth in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a disastrous time for so many around the world, yet Shopify has benefitted massively from people being confined to their homes and needing a source of income.
eCommerce naturally fits that gap, and Shopify had some excellent initiatives this year to bring potential merchants to its service:
- Extended trial - Shopify’s biggest drive this year was the extension of its trial period from 14 days to 90 days. 3 months of free Shopify gave hundreds of thousands of new merchants the chance to explore eCommerce’s full potential.
- Local pick-up - In line with social distancing, Shopify made it possible for merchants to set whatever location they wanted as the pick-up location for a customer’s order.
- Shopify Capital - Financially tough times meant that many budding merchants couldn’t realise their eCommerce dream. Shopify Capital helped and still helps merchants by providing a loan that is then repaid at the rate the merchant wants through a percentage of their sales.
Read more about how Shopify is helping merchants affected by COVID-19.
04. Shopify Fulfillment Network Gains Traction
One of Shopify’s biggest successes in 2020 is the rolling out of the Shopify Fulfillment Network. Image courtesy of Shopify.
The Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) was introduced in July 2019 as a way for merchants to store and distribute their inventory easier. In 2020, SFN has grown massively, now serving thousands of merchants across the United States who want a simpler way to get their products to their customers.
At its core, the Shopify Fulfillment Network works like this:
- Merchants send their inventory to a ‘fulfillment centre’ - essentially a large warehouse consisting of inventory sold by U.S-based Shopify merchants. Shopify uses smart technology to find merchants the fulfillment centre closest to their largest customer base.
- From the centre, Shopify will pick, package and send your products directly to customers. Even if you have specialised packaging, SFN accommodates for that.
- Shopify will handle refunds and returns, also without you having to do anything.
- Your inventory count is constantly updated and your products are always tracked, meaning you are constantly kept in the loop about your store’s product fulfillment.
Sounds like a dream, right? It certainly takes away some of the biggest hassles and costs of running an online store, though it’s currently only available to U.S customers.
Like many of their other programs, Shopify has plans to extend the Shopify Fulfillment Network into other countries and continents. It’s likely that merchants in Europe and Australia will also be able to benefit from SFN in the years to come.
Want a comprehensive review of SFN? Check out our full Shopify Fulfillment Network guide right here.
III. 03 Key eCommerce Trends in 2021
01. Customer Experience Becomes Vital
Today online consumers expect a pleasant digital experience from start to finish, across channels and devices. A report from Shopify Plus revealed a gulf between digital-first Direct-to-Consumers brands and businesses that are new to eCommerce: only 38% of the largest companies are capable of competing on customer experiences.
“During the pandemic, direct-to-consumer brands with thriving eCommerce experiences were able to very quickly and easily pivot their marketing and messaging, their energy,” says Hana Abaza, Shopify Plus’ global director of marketing. “They didn't have to fundamentally rethink their business model. They could focus on very different things because they were at a significant advantage.”
The eCommerce environment has a relatively low entry barrier, so naturally, hundreds of new eCommerce businesses emerge and compete with you every month. What you do after the sales, and what you do with the customer data you collect, can set you completely apart from your competitors.
Here's what you can do in 2021:
- Prioritize mobile shopping experiences by making your site responsive to different mobile devices. With 50% of global eCommerce sales happening on mobile devices, Competing on customer experience also requires a lightning-fast streamlined mobile experience.
- Prioritize personalized messaging: It can be a follow-up email asking your customers about their experience with purchase, it can be a personalized recommendation, it can be a personalized thank you email - small touches like these go a long way in showing that you care.
- Have an omnichannel marketing strategy: eCommerce sales are at an all-time high in 2020 with record competition and higher acquisition cost - fueled by the growing players on the field - whether it's global retail giants or new online retailers. Therefore, you need to optimize commerce across vastly different platforms - online marketplace, retail, social media - to create immersive, unified, streamlined experiences wherever your customers go.
- Improve Product Visualization: By utilizing the newest product visualization technologies, customer experiences can be better since customers feel more rest assured about what they will receive upon delivery. With Shopify's growing support for AR and 3D media, it's not exactly a hyperbole to say you will see more online stores adopting Augmented Reality and 3D media as competitive edges in 2021.
02. Growing Importance Of Branding
Traditionally, consumers go to online marketplaces to find a product, a solution, search is often unbranded, branding is one of less importance. Observers have quipped that “consumers can find anything on digital marketplaces except your brand.” Note that:
- 70% of Amazon searches do not include a brand name
- Nearly 90% of Amazon product views result from search, not branded ads or merchandising
However, the current has now been changing and expected to be so in 2021 - worldwide, shoppers are increasingly spending with their values. Impact-conscious and purpose-driven shoppers now account for around 40% of all consumers - that's nearly half of the population. For every two visitors coming to your online store, one of them will expect your product and brands to align with their belief and are willing to pay a premium, or change their shopping habits.
Image courtesy of Shopify Plus
Proprietary data from Shopify shows that 65% of consumers say they support independent brands.
Consumers’ main reasons for shopping at a large, corporately owned business include:
- Good product selection (57%)
- Lowest prices (51%)
- Reliable (34%)
Consumers’ top reasons for shopping at an independently owned business (online or in store) include:
- Supporting entrepreneurship (33%)
- Buying unique products (33%)
- Experiencing good customer service (31%)
What You Can Do In 2021:
- Focus on Personalization: In 2021, we predict that Customer Experience will get closely intertwined with Branding - and both start with Personalization - whether it’s delivered by a human or an algorithm.
- Retailers estimate personalization can unlock $2.95 trillion this decade. Personalization, on the smallest scale, can be as simple as having a product customization app for your product page to empower co-created products - giving customers the flexibility to customize products and packaging or, mix’n match assortments.
- On a strategic level, it means a combination of new technology solutions, and old-fashioned customer service that delivers unique branded experiences. 74% of U.K. and U.S. businesses say they have a website personalization strategy in place, with significant growth expected in all channels by the end of 2021, including mobile, email, conversational marketing, loyalty programs, and in-store POS.
- Product pages are your brand ambassadors - they play an even more important role when most ecommerce product pages basically speak the same language - “best", “buy now", “add to cart', “free shipping", etc. Setting your product pages apart from those of your competitors can simply start with replacing soulless images and copy with content and photography that accurately tell your brand story and brand differentiation. A human touch can go a long way.
03. A Purchase Is Not Completed Without Fulfillment
A great marketing strategy can get customers to complete purchase, but your work does not end there, not even close - since fulfillment is expected to be another competitive differentiator in 2021. Consumers expect the products to get delivered to their doors in 04 manners: fast, free, branded shipping and environmental-friendly.
Let's look at what the statistics have to say:
- Globally, 64% of consumers expect free shipping, while peak-level ecommerce and strict same-day shipping cutoff times have made it difficult to meet rising customer demands. Proprietary data from Shopify shows the number of brands offering free shipping has increased 5.3% since the pandemic began.
- A full 65% of consumers check free-shipping thresholds before adding something to their cart.
- 67% of U.S. consumers expect same-day or next-day delivery.
- 72% of global consumers want brands to use sustainable packaging. Three-quarters of U.S. consumers are more likely to buy a product packaged sustainably.
Image courtesy of Shopify Plus
So what can you do in 2021 to turn Fulfillment into a competitive edge and give your customers everything they want?
- Invest in Order management and Inventory management technology to optimize the efficiency of your fulfillment operation, save time and reduce shipping costs.
- Choose a suitable fulfillment partner that can ship your orders faster and more efficiently. With Shopify Fulfillment Network rolling out recently - Shopify merchants worldwide can expect to get more benefits from this initiative in 2021.
Various knowledge pieces summarized in this section are based on a much more detailed Future of eCommerce report conducted by the hard-working experts at Shopify Plus - you can get the full version with much more insights here:
As we continue to brace ourselves into a largely uncertain - yet exciting 2021, we find ourselves tracing the steps towards what made us great: to boldly explore the unknown, and as Dylan Thomas put it: to rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Kindness, understanding, trust and partnership will get us to a better future and we are here for you.