2021 Holiday Retail Trends: What E-Commerce Merchants Should Know

by Gooten Editorial Team on Oct. 7, 2021

It’s fair to say that, with so many public health restrictions still in place, last year’s holiday shopping season was like none before it. The 2021 holiday shopping season promises to be another unusual one, albeit for different reasons: As more and more people venture out for face-to-face interactions, it’s hard to tell just how much of the retail season will be dominated by e-commerce, and how much will be carried out in person.

For those who work in e-commerce or print on demand, it’s important to go into the holiday shopping season with eyes wide open. Here are a few trends and predictions that we think are relevant to digital commerce print on demand.

Holiday Shopping Trends (And What They Mean for Print on Demand)

1) An increased focus on hybrid shopping.

A lot of consumers are going to feel especially eager to visit big box stores or local boutiques, savoring the chance to do their shopping in-person this year. But if you think that means e-commerce is taking a backseat, think again.

On the contrary, we predict a rise in hybrid shopping… that is, customers browsing products and checking prices in local stores, but also doing their research online. Indeed, even consumers who plan to hit up brick and mortar stores will inevitably experience many digital touchpoints before they ever set foot in a shop.

For e-commerce stores, this presents a significant opportunity. Make sure you really impress online shoppers with a smooth, easy, and convenient online shopping experience, including seamless print on demand integration. Underscore the simplicity of buying online, as well as the different customization options that traditional retailers won’t necessarily be able to compete with.

2) Demand for flexible shopping options.

A lot of shoppers are still navigating the “new normal,” and trying to determine the best way to get their shopping done, as safely and conveniently as possible. Even among shoppers who are itching to get back out into the world, there will be a real interest in flexible and accommodating options. E-commerce and print on demand can deliver this flexibility, but only if merchants are aware of what their shoppers want.


Specifically, think in terms of these questions:

  • Do you make it easy for people to order online, when and how they want?
  • How long will it take for the product to be delivered?
  • What about return policies on any items that are not up to the customer’s standards?


By thinking through these and similar questions, you can better present customers with a meaningful value proposition, letting them know that your online store is ready to provide them with the convenience they are looking for.

3) Surge in mobile shopping.

We also predict that, in 2021, more people will be shopping from their smartphones.

This is mostly good news for e-commerce merchants, as it presents another valuable channel for completing transactions. The one downside is that shopping on smartphones tends to result in higher shopping cart abandonment rates. Make sure you have a strategy in place to reach out to the folks who start their purchase process, but then get cold feet before they complete the transaction.

4) Early shoppers.

Thanks to the well-publicized supply chain disruptions, this year’s shoppers know that they need to start early. As such, e-commerce and print on demand merchants really have no time to waste. Make sure you’re finalizing and implementing your holiday shopping strategy now, and that you have a print on demand integration partner who’s ready to go.

5) Spike in social media shopping.

One final trend worth noting about? Social commerce is on the rise, with more people than ever before buying gifts via Instagram and similar channels.

Social commerce actually presents a lot of opportunity for print on demand integration, so make sure you’re active on some of these social media platforms, ready to meet shoppers where they are.

Get Ready for a Shopping Season Like No Other

The 2021 holiday shopping season promises to be truly unique. Make sure you take into account consumer trends as you prepare your own seasonal business strategy. With any questions, reach out to the print on demand experts here at Gooten.