The state of ecommerce 2021

Navigate the evolving world of omnichannel commerce and retail media

Ecommerce is growing fast. Prior to COVID-19, the channel delivered consistent double-digit year-on-year growth. But projections in our latest research suggest that 2020 will be the strongest year yet with +22% growth driven by the massive shift from offline to online shopping.

The State of Ecommerce report helps reset our expectations – more shoppers rate convenience over price – and sheds new light on the growing value of ecommerce ads and social commerce. We find that leading companies are connecting retail media to other platforms for maximum impact at all stages of the customer journey while brands and agencies are planning and spending more across digital ad platforms. As manufacturers continue to lean on their partners for deeper capabilities around metrics, ecommerce partners will need to brush up their skill sets.

Engage and measure

The traditional goal of the product detail page (PDP) is to drive conversion. While this remains important, our research identifies that the role of the PDP has changed throughout the shopping journey, including increasing engagement that transcends generations and devices.

Brands are also grappling with measuring the effectiveness of retail media. Many are moving beyond return-on-ad-spend as the only measure of success and are implementing more robust ways of measuring effectiveness that better align with their overall business objectives. This then allows them to execute their own unique ecommerce strategies across retailers.

Pace of change means change of approach

COVID-19 has shaken up the accepted norms in ecommerce. Brands and retailers have been thrust into deeper partnerships with each other in terms of data and performance measurement, as well as sharing responsibility for growth. Online grocery and last-mile delivery partners, such as Instacart and Shipt, are commanding new levels of interest and investment, resulting in opportunities for brands outside of typical food products. This acceleration is leading to new standards of excellence and a move away from fixed, long-term strategic planning and towards progress through continuous momentum, comprised of small steps and learning initiatives.

Key insights to keep ahead of the game

Some of the recommendations from the State of Ecommerce report are updates to time-tested ecommerce tactics, while others prepare brands to act outside their comfort zones. One thing is certain: the skills, technology, strategy, and tactics developed over the last 12 to 24 months are no longer producing the best results. The game has changed and tactics that underperform even slightly will have consequences, allowing competitors and nimble newcomers to take a share of the market from complacent onlookers.

Nine ways to navigate the fast-evolving ecommerce and retail media landscape

  1. Ensure a strong and integrated brand presence across all platforms
  2. Prioritise convenience and ease for shoppers
  3. Invest in search, content, and PDPs to maximise findability and conversions
  4. Develop customised retail media strategies
  5. Measure what matters, not what is easy
  6. Unlock custom opportunities with retailers through mutual value
  7. Lean into expert partners throughout your journey
  8. Embrace online grocery and last-mile delivery, even if you aren’t a traditional grocery brand
  9. Test and learn now, don’t wait until it’s perfect

Catalyst and Kantar


Please contact Eleni Constantinidi for more