The last year has reshaped the business world in many ways, and analysts predict many of these changes could become permanent. As offices begin to reopen, many companies are already offering employees the opportunity to keep working from home for much of the week, and the shift from the high street to ecommerce has accelerated by about five years.

Physical stores have seen a dramatic decline in sales, with consumers instead choosing to buy online over the last twelve months. Much of this was due to lockdowns imposed by governments around the world, but as society reopens and people flock back to pubs, restaurants, and cafes, it is much less clear that people will return to high street stores to buy their clothes, food, and other items.

As the global leader in ecommerce, Amazon has been one of the big winners from the events of the last year, but smaller ecommerce stores have also grown their revenues. For companies looking to expand their reach online, here are four ecommerce elements to explore in 2021:

Speed is key

People are impatient, and online properties of all kinds need to focus on improving load times. However, for ecommerce stores the problem is more acute, with some recent reports showing that conversions decreased by 1.11% for every additional 100ms a page takes to load. Amazon UK’s homepage takes 0.75 seconds to load, and whilst that kind of performance may be out of reach for small companies, ecommerce stores should try to keep the page-load times under three seconds if at all possible.

The majority are on mobile

Many people still think of websites as portals used by people on laptops or desktops, but the reality is different; for many ecommerce stores, the majority of their users are on mobile. Home computer penetration in the UK has plateaued at around 88% for the last few years, but smartphone penetration is already heading towards 95%, so for companies that want to sell online, mobile should be their focus.

As has been the trend for over a decade, most good web design companies will create responsive designs for websites, so the design will flow to look good on all screen sizes. However, these days that design should now also be mobile-first and robust.

Apple Pay and Google Pay make payments easier

One area in which Amazon has really changed the game is in frictionless checkout. Their one-click buying option, where users no longer had to fill out their credit card and delivery details to buy, was revolutionary for the online shopping experience. Nowadays, however, you don’t need to be a multi-billion pound behemoth to offer such an easy checkout experience, thanks to Apple Pay and Google Pay, which will store user credit card and address data and let them checkout on any store that integrates those services in a single click/tap.

Stripe and other payment processors have made it easy for store owners to integrate both Google Pay and Apple Pay for free. And with each service supporting hundreds of millions of users around the world, every store should offer both options to their customers.

First impressions matter

It only takes around 50 milliseconds for customers to form an opinion about your ecommerce store . That opinion determines whether they’ll stay or leave. We’ve already discussed the importance of website speed, but once your page has loaded you only have a fraction of a second to make an impression. This means that what you have above the fold matters most of all.

Customers want a clear layout and page structure with a good colour-scheme, strong product imagery and a readable amount of text. beautiful, elegant design is critical, but if those product shots are not well lit or your product descriptions contain grammatical errors then you are quickly undoing all your hard work.

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