What Does the Future Hold for Global eCommerce? Predictions for 2021 with 7 Industry Leaders

2020 was anything but an average year. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted every facet of our lives, from how we work, interact with our family and friends, and how we shop, with online commerce being the main beneficiary. As we’ve previously detailed, eCommerce took a giant leap over the last year, in some cases recording a decade’s worth of growth in the span of a few months.

Now, as we venture further into 2021, global eCommerce is in a state of flux as the industry continues adapting to the new normal brought on by COVID-19. What lessons will sellers take following the global logistics disruptions over the last year? Amidst the marked spike in new sellers, what steps should merchants take to differentiate themselves from the pack? And how should entrepreneurs launch their businesses in 2021 to help ensure maximum success?

To answer these questions, and more, we turned to seven industry leaders, each of whom specializes in a different aspect of global eCommerce, including logistics and fulfillment, marketing and brand management and accounting. Here’s what we learned.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket: Navigating the Global Supply Chain in 2021

From supply chain disruptions to FBA restrictions, eCommerce fulfillment was anything but smooth in 2020. What are some of the lessons learned that sellers should take into 2021?

Pearl Ausch, Chief Operating Officer, First Choice Shipping

Due to the major logistics disruption this past year, the biggest lesson sellers learned is to not put all their eggs in one basket. Sellers have realized that because Amazon prioritizes essentials over their products, the amount of product they can send is limited.


Yoni Mazor, COO and Co-Founder, Getida

Due to the explosion of eCommerce during the COVID-19 era, Amazon sellers are now forced to play the logistical game by a set of new rules. Relying solely on the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) model can be risky if there are any sudden restrictions in which an Amazon seller is not able to properly offer a product on the platform.


Andrew Waber, Director of Insights, Teikametrics

In the eCommerce realm, major changes to fulfillment operations are taking place, which will likely become even more prominent in 2021. FBA is simply no longer as reliable for the average seller on Amazon. For brands to avoid taking a step back on Amazon through ‘Out of Stocks’ or unpalatable delivery times that dissuade consumers from buying, more are going to be looking at other options to supplement whatever FBA inventory they do have. Maintaining the ‘Prime’ badge still matters, and more brands will need to work harder to keep that designation across their larger product catalog.


If sellers can’t rely on FBA, how should they go about ensuring their orders are fulfilled?

Rachel Andrea Go, Senior Content Marketing Manager, Deliverr

You need to build redundancy into your logistics operations, meaning you should have both FBA and a 3rd party logistics (3PL) company, like Deliverr, set up for your Amazon orders. This ensures you have a mirror Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) listing for every FBA one that can kick in if something goes wrong (out of stock, long delivery times, etc.).


Pearl Ausch, Chief Operating Officer, First Choice Shipping

Start by creating your own supply chain using a 3PL company that stores your goods in case Amazon restricts the amount of inventory you can send. This way, you’ll have a place to store products while shipping to Amazon in increments, or if stuck, will send directly to the consumers. To prepare for the next major logistics disruption, it’s crucial for sellers to be on more than one Amazon platform, have their own Shopify store, and expand to any marketplace that will generate success.


Yoni Mazor, COO and Co-Founder, Getida

The best way to ensure your orders are fulfilled when FBA isn’t available is to always have another SKU available for all your ASINs when they’re classified as Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) inventory. This ensures fulfillment whether you do so through your own warehouse or via a 3PL. It also guarantees that you’ll never get stuck without live inventory on your Amazon listing, miss an opportunity to sell, lose your Best Seller Rank (BSR), or let your advertising spend go to waste.

Location, Location, Location: Finding the Right Countries to Source Your Products

Traditionally, China was the place to go for product sourcing, manufacturing and logistics. Given the supply chain problems we saw during 2020, is that still the case?

Yoni Mazor, COO and Co-Founder, Getida

For Amazon sellers, it’s important to spread the risk to prevent future stock-outs, meaning that relatively cheaper products that are easier to make should be sourced outside of China. Possible candidates are India, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Mexico in some cases. The main idea is to have a variety of sourcing options instead of having it all centralized in a single supplier/country. Therefore, it would be wise to run small sourcing productions in other countries for a rainy day.

Pearl Ausch, Chief Operating Officer, First Choice Shipping

India, Vietnam, and South American countries are three major areas on the rise. Additionally, the US has become a big force this past year, as it’s become that people can’t always rely on overseas logistics. In some cases, sellers are manufacturing overseas and then bringing the rest of their supplies back to the US to avoid relying on a foreign workforce, while others are completing the entire operation in the US.

Rachel Andrea Go, Senior Content Marketing Manager, Deliverr

I would say many businesses have started looking for local suppliers as a more pandemic-proof way to ensure consistent supply. It’s good to diversify either way, so one of your 2021 goals should be to look for nearby manufacturers who can help in a pinch, as well as more affordable ones, possibly in countries like Indonesia.

Standing Out in The Crowd: Differentiating Your eCommerce Brand in 2021

With the unprecedented growth in online shopping in 2020 and the increase in competition entering the market, what steps should sellers take to differentiate their brands in 2021?


Daniel Sugarman, CEO, Zentail

During crazy times like these, sellers are sometimes tempted to jump on the bandwagon and expand their catalogs to include items that are trending but aren’t relevant to their core offering. This dilutes their brand and results in the team spreading themselves thin over a large mix of unrelated products. Ironically, this is a time when you should be protecting and showcasing the uniqueness of your brand. As you engage with more and more buyers, put your best foot forward via high-quality listings, fast shipping and a top-notch customer experience.


James Thomson, Chief Strategy Officer, Buy Box Experts

In the Amazon world, differentiation doesn’t usually mean building the mousetrap with the highest technical qualities – instead, it means using a mousetrap that has invested in better images/content, more feedback solicitation/social proof, and longer-term advertising campaigns that slowly and steadily build organic search performance. Yes, the mousetrap needs to have decent quality, but the primary focus should be on building a “good enough” brand that knows how to play the game well in the Amazon sandbox.


Andrew Waber, Director of Insights, Teikametrics

To really thrive in the current environment, sellers and brand owners need to take an approach that will keep them as visible as possible on marketplace sites even as consumer behavior changes over the course of 2021. Search term popularity changes show that compared to prior years, consumers shopped much differently in 2020 – even within a given category. Expect that to remain the case in 2021, meaning that brands can’t rely as heavily on prior seasonal trends and need to stay on top of how consumers are searching and where the biggest opportunities are, as they happen. Brands that can craft a marketplace advertising strategy that prioritizes keyword discovery based on performance data, along with a commitment to stay agile and invest strongly when performance dictates, will put themselves in the best position to succeed in 2021.

Shifting Gears: The Changing World of Marketing in 2021

What do you anticipate will be the leading marketing trends in 2021?

Daniel Sugarman, CEO, Zentail

We imagine that brands will continue to take a stand on social, environmental or ethical issues, both in terms of their marketing and their business practices. In this way, they’ll try to align themselves with the core values of their buyers. While this strategy was initially deemed risky, many brands have seen it enhance customer loyalty (as well as wallet share), as buyers become more aware about what their spending habits say about them.

James Thomson, Chief Strategy Officer, Buy Box Experts

We are very excited about the Amazon DSP program – unlike any other form of marketing (online or offline), DSP provides extraordinary targeting of customers who are ready to buy. We expect brands of all sizes to jump into this form of advertising and enjoy first mover advantages over the hundreds of thousands of brands and sellers that are potentially overdependent on Amazon Sponsored products to drive traffic.

Taking Your Business Stateside: Expanding to the US Market in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic increase in US eCommerce penetration. For cross-border sellers, what should they consider before opening a US-based online store/opening a store on a US-based marketplace in 2021?

Scott Letourneau, CEO, Nevada Corporate Planners, Inc. (NCP)

A seller needs to consider the following elements before expanding to US marketplaces:

  • To which marketplaces do you want to take your business? Are you planning to sell on Amazon only, Amazon and Walmart, or Amazon and open a Shopify store? These all have an impact on your structure.
  • Which structure is best to expand to the US? Your foreign entity or a US entity?
  • What are the overall costs for set up and annual compliance costs in either situation?
  • What are your US tax consequences with all the variables mentioned prior? Both at a federal and state level.


What U.S. tax or regulatory changes should cross-border sellers watch out for in 2021?

Scott Letourneau, CEO, Nevada Corporate Planners, Inc. (NCP)

States are short on budgets, and sales tax is a critical component of state revenues. Shopify sellers and those selling on their websites are most vulnerable. Amazon sellers who already have expanded are next, while new sellers have the opportunity to get this right and minimize audits.

Ready to Get in On the Action?

What is your advice for entrepreneurs launching their businesses in 2021?

Pearl Ausch, Chief Operating Officer, First Choice Shipping

The Three D’s: Diversify, Differentiate, and Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you are in a niche with many players, focus on the service you provide to your customers. Even if you launch a product-based business, you will be remembered for your return policy, warranty policy, unique design, astounding customer service, etc.

Yoni Mazor, COO and Co-Founder, Getida

It’s very important to treat your Amazon business as a serious matter. The Amazon landscape is consistently being professionalized by top players, meaning you need to view yourself as a professional from the start. Selling on Amazon is no longer an experiment for amateurs; rather it is a growth pad for highly motivated entrepreneurs who are continually learning how to professionalize themselves and their team. It is a great ride, if you have the right mindset for it.

Rachel Andrea Go, Senior Content Marketing Manager, Deliverr

Focus on your buyer experience and optimize it every step of the way. Start with how they find you:

  • Can you make your ads clearer and easier to understand?
  • Can you organize your website to make it more intuitive to navigate?

Then look at where they can shop:

  • Are you on every sales channel they want to shop on?
  • Do you make it easy to find your brand and identify your items?

This is where listing best practices come in. Analyze the actual purchase experience:

  • How many steps does it take between a decision to buy and order confirmation?
  • Do you offer a guest checkout, or require every buyer have their own account?

Look at post-purchase, pre-receipt:

  • Do you send out email confirmations with tracking info, so your buyers can see where their items are?
  • Are you ensuring 2-day delivery or faster?

Finally, look into remarketing and post-purchase support:

  • Is it easy to contact your team for questions?
  • If you have an expensive item, do you provide warranties?
  • Is it easy to return/exchange something?

Every positive step in the buyer experience goes a long way to generating repeat business and a loyal advocate.

Daniel Sugarman, CEO, Zentail

In 2021, sellers should strive to be more than just “sellers.” They should work towards building a brand that buyers will recognize as they do their shopping on a variety of different channels. Similarly, they should be present on the channels where people are already shopping (like Amazon and Walmart.com, to name a few). While those marketplaces can be crawling with competitors, they’re already bringing in millions of buyers each month.

If you can play your cards right—create high-quality listings, offer fast shipping and build a seamless customer experience backed by strong branding—you can rise above the competition. In fact, during the height of the pandemic, 63% of sellers that we tracked saw over 200% growth in webstore sales after launching to marketplaces for the first time.

James Thomson, Chief Strategy Officer, Buy Box Experts

The COVID pandemic has reminded entrepreneurs of three core issues:

  1. Cash is critical to any business – you must have cash on hand for a rainy day, so don’t fully leverage yourself all the time.
  2. Customer preferences can change, so it’s important to be asking how your business can adjust to the “what if” that might logically happen.
  3. If you haven’t diversified products, channels, and customers groups, then eventually this will catch up to you and you could lose everything.

Andrew Waber, Director of Insights, Teikametrics

Quite simply, if you’re a business launching on eCommerce channels in 2021, it’s more critical than ever to identify precisely where you want to compete. Seller growth has exploded in 2020. For your brand to gain traction, you need to have a clear idea of specific search terms you want to target, both with your paid campaigns and using that language within the product listing itself. Speak the language of your customers, and commit to a small basket of high-volume, relevant keywords (ideally unbranded) where you can focus your promotional budget to efficiently grow.

Scott Letourneau, CEO, Nevada Corporate Planners, Inc. (NCP)

Make sure you look at the big picture and get support with your overall plan before taking the next step and registering on a platform. Expanding to the US is like playing chess. You want to be a strategic player and look three moves ahead. When you expand, each move may cause a threat to your business unless you are strategic with your expansion.

Learn More with Our State of eCommerce Web Series!

The eCommerce landscape is constantly shifting, making it more critical than ever to operate an agile business that can quickly adapt to the times. That’s why we teamed up with our partners to produce our exclusive State of eCommerce web series, giving you the latest insights into experimenting with new manufacturers and suppliers, brand differentiation, market expansion and more!