Business Strategy

2021 eCommerce Predictions for Retailers

by Gooten Editorial Team on Dec. 10, 2020


In a year of complete unpredictability, 2020 has catapulted the eCommerce world into a territory that no one could have predicted just 18 months ago. Online shopping has increased astronomically this year and restrictions on shopping in-store will continue to be enforced in various regions for the foreseeable future. As challenging as the year has been, it is opening up opportunities for eCommerce retailers to continue to soar in 2021.

According to Forbes, eCommerce sales have increased 129% year over year which is positive news for Gooten partners! As the demand for eCommerce grows; brands and retailers will need to set themselves apart from their competitors to stay on top of the wave.

Below are three trends that we believe will redefine the retail industry in the upcoming year.

1. Viral content through personalized products

Generation Z is one of the most powerful forces driving eCommerce. As the first generation born into the digital age, these consumers have a unique approach to online shopping and are especially attuned to viral content and the meme culture. They expect information to be easily accessible, at the tip of their fingers, and visible across social channels. Social is where they find the details, visuals, and social proof required to make their buying decisions.

Gen Z consumers are unique and progressive in many ways, but particularly when it comes to fashion and technology. They are looking to freely express themselves through a personalized and individualistic sense of style. Whether it’s the newest TikTok challenge or the latest viral Tweet from a celebrity, retailers can take advantage of these quick, trending content topics by promoting products that are customizable to resonate with the upcoming generation.

2. Athleisure and streetwear are now mainstream fashion

This year, working from home has become the norm and the trend of fashionable, comfortable clothes isn’t going anywhere in 2021. Brands have been reaching for new sales with athleisure styles that go beyond the gym. According to Vogue Business, more than 50% of US consumers purchased activewear in 2019, but not necessarily for exercise purposes. Influencer-led campaigns by celebrities like Beyonce and Rihanna have also ushered the look into the mainstream by glamorizing the athleisure lifestyle. The pandemic had upped demand further.

In addition to the demand for athleisure, over the years we have seen the lines between streetwear and high fashion become quite blurry. Clever marketing tactics have helped. Small brands like Supreme and Kith gained cult-like popularity due to their scarcity model and emphasis on high-profile collaborations. Retailers can build on the success of these trends by offering their own limited-edition and collaborative drops which carry a sense of urgency and exclusivity. These one-of-a-kind products not only add excitement to an existing product line but can also help retailers diversify and tap into additional audiences that may have never been exposed to the brand.

3. Increased importance of sustainable processes

As we step into 2021, we will continue to see conversations around the impact consumerism has on the environment. As we learn more about ways to cut back our carbon footprint in our personal lives, we must also notice ways our shopping experiences contribute negatively to the natural resources we frequently take for granted. Consumers are more interested in sustainable practices and engage more closely with retailers who are socially responsible and transparent with their production and fulfillment processes.

For retailers, this could mean incorporating organic, reusable, sustainable materials, and methods into their supply chain. Retailers may introduce a vendor that uses dye sublimation, for example, as a printing method, which we expect to be grabbing attention in 2021. Dye sublimation is faster to use, produces less waste, reduces energy, and provides positive experiences for printing flexibility.

How On-Demand Manufacturing Can Support These Predictions in 2021

At Gooten, we believe on-demand manufacturing, a process by which goods are made to order, is an opportunity that can enable these three predictions. With an on-demand model, retailers are able to add a tailored experience to their online shop, meaning more access for producing products based on viral content, personalized patterns for streetwear and athleisure, custom prints, personalization for sentimental value, and more. On-demand continues to evolve as fashion trends create the perfect market for individuality. This will continue to be a hit in the following years to come as print technology becomes even more sophisticated. On-demand fashion continues to draw in more popularity from younger consumers because of its unique way of adding a personalized touch to items in a quick and easily accessible manner. For eCommerce, this means not only do these young consumers want their fashion to be customized but they want their shopping experience to mirror that as well. Access to a broad range of products and designs that evolve with fashion is crucial for these more observant consumers who value self-expression when it comes to their buying decisions.

Due to the one-off nature of the process, on-demand eliminates unnecessary production and environmentally harmful waste. Traditional manufacturing, on the other hand, generally leads to overproduction with almost 87% of textile materials ending up in landfills, representing a lost opportunity of more than $100 billion annually. Simply put, on-demand manufacturing is a sustainable process for retailers that is sure to appease environmentally-conscious consumers.


The top eCommerce predictions to look out for in 2021 will rely on individuality, personalization, authenticity, and a focus on more environmentally friendly production in fashion. While we all experienced a challenging year, in one way or another, it is important to look ahead to the many positives that will come in 2021 for eCommerce advancements especially in the world of fashion.