5 Ecommerce Challenges to Prepare for in 2021

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2020 was a huge year for online retailers given the effects of the pandemic. The number of online shoppers in the US jumped to 30% while, globally, eCommerce sales increased by 19% from July 2019.

However, with that growth and the opportunities it brings, online retailers must be ready for challenges that arise to remain competitive in 2021 and beyond. From higher customer expectations to increased difficulty in attracting shoppers, these are some of the biggest challenges online retailers might face in 2021.

Biggest eCommerce challenges in 2021 and how to solve them

Higher customer expectations

In no way did 2020 reduce customer expectations— they might have even increased. That makes customer expectations a big challenge throughout 2021. Some things customers continue to expect from online retailers include:

  • Free and reliable shipping
  • Personalization
  • 24/7 support
  • Free returns
  • Multiple payment methods
  • Consistent shopping experience across all devices (mobile, tablets, laptops, and desktops)

In July, the Federal Trade Commission reported a spike in consumer complaints related to the online shopping experience. The same can be experienced if consumer expectations are not addressed thoroughly this year.


Most customer expectations aren't new. They are things you can easily solve if you keep an eye on what you have in place. For example, monitoring consumer experience across all devices is great, ensuring your shoppers can use the available payment methods comfortably, and so on. Where you need support to address those expectations, make sure to get help on time.

In essence, most consumer expectations are realistic and solvable if you keep an eye on your customer's complaints and future trends.

Difficulty in attracting shoppers

Ways to promote and advertise products and services keep on expanding with each passing day. Consider these stats.

What this means is that consumers can find brands and products in different ways. For online retailers, that means more work to connect and attract the right consumers.


Be ready to go where your consumers are likely to be. If you can make a kill on amazon and are not yet there, ensure you have a presence soon. If you have never leveraged video, give it a shot. In other words, look into any channel, new opportunities, or trends (like creating TikTok videos) that might give you an edge.

More and more consumers options

Consumer's options on how and where they shop are expanding, presenting more challenges in eCommerce. Some options they currently have available include:

Social shops

Social shops such as Facebook shops and catalogs are gaining traction keeping buyers on social media and preventing them from visiting the merchant websites. That itself is a challenge online retailers must deal with to continue making a kill.

Cross-border selling

Cross-border selling greatly expanded with the pandemic, meaning online retailers must start thinking of ways to expand to other markets to stay on top of the game.

Local eCommerce hubs

Websites like Angers Shopping and Shop Where I live are slowly bringing the convenience of hometown shopping online — and they are doing well.


Stay aware and take the right steps as soon as an opportunity arises. For example, if it is viable for your business to sell globally, do so before it is too late. If social shops and catalogs can work for you too, don't hesitate to sell on them. Simply, keep your eyes open for options that may help you expand.

Using the right technologies

Advanced technologies to solve the complexity of eCommerce continue to be built each passing day. But which is suitable for your shop? As an online retailer, you need to know which technologies will give you an edge in 2021. That, of course, requires some research and resources, and the earlier that is done, the better.


Keep an eye on the emerging technologies and always research them before making a decision. Never hurry to use any technology if unsure whether it is apt for your business.

Product returns and refunds

Returns and refunds can make or break your shop. Thus continue to be a challenge to eCommerce. With about 60% of online shoppers looking at a retailer's return policy before making a purchase and 48% of customers shopping if offered less complicated returns.


Have a clear and detailed return and refund policy. Ensure your policy is detailed enough on every matter about returns and refunds. Most importantly, remember returns and refunds are key to a great customer experience. So, strive to ensure every step is done with the customer in mind.


Retailers had a reason to smile in 2020 — hopefully, 2021 will also favor them. But as they hope for another fruitful year, it is equally important to be prepared to address challenges that may slow them down. If shipping and fulfillment is one of those challenges for your business, contact us to learn how we can make it one less thing that holds you back in 2021.