Business Strategy

How to Use 2020 Data to Make Better Investments for Your eCommerce Business in 2021

by Gooten Editorial Team on Jan. 14, 2021


The eCommerce industry has made tremendous gains in 2020 with worldwide retail eCommerce sales totaling $4.2 trillion and it shows no signs of slowing down in 2021 (eMarketer). For an eCommerce store owner, this is good - and intimidating - news. There are plenty of potential customers out there waiting to buy your product, and you’ll probably see more competitors cropping up to get in on some market share. You’ll need to be strategic about your investments so your business can continue to grow along with the eCommerce industry in 2021. As our VP of Data and Analytics Kevin Kelly has said in a recent article about data literacy, "A modern business is a data-driven business." However, if you're just starting to dive into the complex world of data and analytics, here are some ways you can use your 2020 data to better grow your business in 2021.

2020 Data to Consider

Your Existing Customers

Data from your existing customers will help you make decisions for future customers. As noted in our previous blog, data around store traffic, order value, and conversion rate will be key in determining your store’s strategy for 2021. You will also want to note any issues you had with your customers throughout 2020. For example, you may have noticed an uptick in abandoned carts, or your customers had issues with shipments. If you haven’t already, these are issues you may need to solve in 2021.

Your Supply Chain

Your store probably saw increased sales this year, but were you able to keep up with the demand? As you look ahead to 2021, it’s important to reflect on successes and issues in 2020 as they relate to inventory management, fulfillment, shipping, shipping costs, and more. Knowing what worked and what didn’t will help you plan for a more successful 2021 no matter the increase in demand.

Your Competitors

eCommerce became a more crowded space in 2020, and will only continue to increase in 2021. It’s important to have a strategy that differentiates your business from those of your competitors. The best way to ensure your offerings are unique? Knowing what your competitors are offering and doing, and outsmarting them. Make a list of your competitors and try to answer the following prompts.

  • How their products differ from yours
  • Where they advertise
  • What keywords they rank on for SEO. Tools like SEMRush can help you determine this.
  • What is their website and shopping experience like? Try signing up for an account and abandoning your cart or signing up for their email list.

Knowing your competitors will help you better understand opportunities to improve your business and win in your space.

eCommerce Industry Trends

2021 predictions are rolling in and it’s important to make sure you’re accounting for new consumer behaviors and trends. Make sure you’re tuned into eCommerce thought leaders, such as BigCommerce, Oberlo, Shopify, and Gooten. Their insights can help you pivot your business as needed. For example, according to BigCommerce, “by 2021, mobile eCommerce sales are expected to account for 54% of total eCommerce sales.” Is your website optimized for mobile? Do you have a mobile app? 2021 may be the year you want to invest in mobile-friendly options for your store.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to drop everything you were doing with your store when you find out about a new trend. Not every trend will be right for your offerings or customers, but staying in the know adds another piece of data to your decision-making.

Your Current Time and Financial Investments

If there’s one thing 2020 taught all of us it’s that we are only human, and ultimately you won’t be able to accomplish everything you want for your eCommerce business. However, there are ways to optimize both your time and financial investments to better grow your business.

Start by making a categorized list of your current responsibilities as a business owner and how much time each takes. For example, how much time do you spend packaging orders? Are you a one-person shop answering customer emails for 25 hours a week?

Then, make a categorized list of your financial investments and try to connect them to ROI. For example, look at your cost per acquisition from Google AdWords, or how much you net on each order after shipping and packaging costs.

Finally, look at your time and financial investments together. Where are you spending more time but saving money? Where are you spending money but saving time? Are there opportunities to spend more time and less money or vice-versa?

How to Turn Data into Action

You probably just found tons of opportunities for growth by looking at the above data, but the hard part comes when you have to decide which opportunities are worth investing in to grow your business. Here are some thought starters to help you decide how to turn your 2020 data into 2021 action.

1. Make a list of what growth looks like for your store. Is it increased cart sizes? More new customers? Return customers? A mobile-optimized website and app? A more streamlined supply chain?

2. Make a list of actions you would take to get there. For example, you may want to build out cart size incentives, digital advertising, referral campaigns, a mobile app, or outsource your order fulfillment.

3. Take a look at your time and financial investments from 2020. Where are opportunities to streamline your business to achieve these goals? Where can you make tradeoffs? For example, If you invested in outsourcing inventory/supply chain, you would have time to invest more in organic social or a store blog. Or perhaps if you invested in digital advertising you would see an increase in store traffic.

4. Set goals for yourself monthly and weekly - and hold yourself accountable. For example, you may dedicate January to finding a new fulfillment strategy, February to building out an abandoned email campaign, and March to experiment with digital advertising.

5. Test new strategies and don’t be afraid to abandon them. Not every action you take will have a positive impact on your store, and that’s ok. Test everything you try, but don’t be afraid to throw them out if they fail. Failing and moving on is part of running a successful growing business.