Top 10 Digital Commerce Trends Explained with Examples for 2021

digital commerce trends

To innovate a business model and create better customer experiences, a retailer has to invest in digital commerce trends and capabilities. Much has changed in the way retailers conducted their business in the past. Past innovations and digital commerce trends do offer better visibility throughout the supply chain. In this blog post on digital commerce trends, we look at conversational, immersive, thing (IoT), subscription, unified, and more.

Table of Contents

Conversational Commerce

Artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML)-based conversational bots are being used for unique use cases to improve productivity, customer engagement, streamline activities, and more. As the liquid expectations continue to evolve, just embracing digital is not enough. Leaders in digital commerce need to understand that conversational commerce is here to stay.

There are four main types of conversational bots – informational, transactional, productivity, and device control. For retailers who are thinking of how to make use of conversational bots, it is essential to set realistic expectations. Retailers can use conversational bots with a company representative or as a stand-alone solution.

Conversational Commerce Examples

Whole Foods

Jeff Jenkins, who was VP – Digital Strategy and Marketing back in 2016 at Whole Foods, launched a recipe chatbot on Facebook messenger, enabling consumers to discover new recipes.


Absolut launched a conversational bot on Facebook Messenger in 2016. The bot shared information on where to go for a free drink. The conversational bot showed notification on available Lyft rides back to home.

Immersive Commerce

According to a press release by The Boston Consulting Group, consumer-facing brands that invest in digital technologies see an increase in revenue by 6% to 10%. As technology continues to evolve, the primary focus shifts to invest in a scalable digital commerce platform. One such area is immersive or visual commerce, which emphasizes the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Using AR and VR with digital commerce can improve areas such as virtual merchandising and unlock business value through the use of a new type of content and experience.

Immersive Commerce Examples


In a news article published by Mastercard, the viewer can see the craftsmanship of jewellery, learn about stories, and read descriptions behind the Atelier Swarovski home decor line.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren, the mid-segment and luxury fashion brand, unveiled interactive mirror in 2016. The immersive commerce experience is backed by a well-crafted marketing strategy, which includes sending a reminder with a link to buy other products the user might want.


The company first launched a virtual reality app, followed by the augmented reality mobile app. Using the AR app it enables potential buyers to see how a furniture product might look by placing the product virtually using the smartphone camera.

Thing Commerce

Connected devices offer convenience and lessen the effort required from the consumer’s end as such devices can place an order on behalf of consumers. Other actions are issue reporting, sending a service request, and more. According to Gartner, 5% one of the digital commerce trends like transactions will come from smart machines.

Retailers have to realize this digital opportunity and make significant changes in marketing strategy to sell to things based on context and preferences.

Thing Commerce Examples

Johnnie Walker

In 2015, they introduced a smart label to be featured on one of their products – Blue Label whiskey. This label not only assists customers during purchase but can also sense if the bottle is opened or closed and after opening, it sends information to the customer on how to best enjoy the product.

Subscription Commerce

Adding subscriptions to the retail business model can enable a retailer to increase return on investment. Deloitte foretells that a fifth of adults in developed nations will have subscribed to a minimum of five services.

Ecommerce giants such as Amazon are already using the subscription feature. The subscription commerce has also given rise to a new age of startups based on the subscription box business model. Consumers can subscribe to different types of boxes depending on their needs, such as clothing, groceries, pharmaceutical, and more.

Subscription Commerce Examples


It is an elearning website that offers video lessons from some of the world’s best chefs, athletes, actors and more. They also offer feedback on the student’s progress and work.


They have on offer a full stack of software for sales, marketing and customer service. They have different subscription options for small businesses and large enterprises.

Enterprise Marketplace

Enterprise marketplaces are built by traditional organizations to allow third-party sellers to sell directly to end customers using the said organization’s platform. This helps create a new business model where ecosystems can be created and new sources of revenue can be generated.

According to leading advisory and research company Gartner, 15 percent medium-to-high gross merchandise value digital commerce organizations will have deployed their own marketplaces and thereby create entirely new forms of digital ecosystem.

Enterprise Marketplace Examples


Zendesk is a popular customer service and help desk platform. Their enterprise app marketplace has more than 500 applications that pertain to many different categories like time-tracking, productivity, IT and product management, and telephony and SMS. While the vast majority of applications are free, many are paid applications as well.


While Amazon started with just books, it now provides products in almost all the categories we can think of. From fashion to electronics to books, it has it all and serves as a great example of how successful enterprise marketplaces could be.

Personalized Content

Almost three-fourths (74%) of online customers feel frustrated with website content that displays ads, promotions and offers that have nothing to do with their interests. Moreover, 80% of consumers say that they would prefer purchasing from a brand that provides personalized experiences.

Personalized content has now become an unsaid necessity for businesses. Improving user experience with personalized content can enable you gain online shopper’s trust as well. 

There are many opportunities to personalize content throughout the user’s journey: ads, banners and offers, email campaigns, product recommendation and search.

It’s important to note here that a thorough research is needed before putting your personalized content into action. A knowledge about your target market’s buying patterns, frequency and demographics is needed. Also, make sure the content seems personalized but not too intrusive or uncomfortable for the customer.

Personalized Content Examples


Not only does Netflix show you movies and TV shows based on the content you have watched, it even personalizes film covers based on the actors or actresses you’re familiar with. It does all this by taking a note of when you hit play/pause, when you stop watching something halfway through and when you add something to your watchlist.


Shutterfly is a web and mobile app that lets you create canvases, calendars and photo books and other items with your photos on them. They are known for using personalized emails and subject lines but they took personalization to the next level.

If you give Shutterfly permission to access your gallery, it automatically identifies pictures with faces in them and places these pictures on items that you can then directly purchase from the app.

Customer Analytics

In this data-driven world, every business decision needs to be driven by carefully analysed and monitored data and facts. Given the large amount of data collected by digital commerce platforms, customer analytics provides a great avenue to convert shoppers.

Analysing consumer behavior is important to devise effective marketing campaigns and fine-tune the demand in the market. It also helps in understanding the ever-changing behaviors of today’s consumers.

Businesses today also make use of algorithms and analytics software to optimize their social media marketing strategies and improve ROI. It also further helps in enhancing customer experience and making it more pleasant.

Customer Analytics Examples

Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods

They leverage customer data analytics to understand how customers buy groceries and how suppliers interact with the grocer. This data is then collected and analysed after which insights are generated whenever a need for further change is recognized.


AccuWeather managed to create a service out of the data it collected. In the past, their partners used to be global brands but they soon realized their weather data could benefit other businesses as well. That led them to create an online subscription-based platform for developers where they could purchase API keys and implement it in their own businesses/projects.

Progressive Web-Apps (PWAs)

A progressive web application is a type of application software that can be delivered through the web. It can work on any platform that makes use of a  browser that is standard-compliant and runs on both desktop and mobile devices.

People no longer need to perform various steps like finding the app, downloading it and opening it. The application can be used immediately as and when the customer needs it. It shows your customers what you have to offer without having them go through too much effort.

Progress Web App Examples


Starbucks built a PWA of their ordering system on the web to make it more user-friendly and efficient. It delivers a similar experience as their native mobile app and with its capability to run in offline mode, Starbucks PWA allows customers to browse the menu, add items to the cart and order without needing consistent access to the internet.

Application Programming Interface (API) Based Commerce

API based commerce includes programs that connect with mobile apps, Facebook store and websites. They work by allowing two applications to communicate with one another through commands that are designed by expert programmers.

Businesses are adopting API-based commerce to improve flexibility and agility in supporting new business models, customer experiences and ecosystem partners instead of relying on a single monolithic commerce solution.

Application Programming Interface Based Commerce Examples


It has created an entertaining and interactive catalog for baby items. Shoppers can answer quiz questions, hover over hotspots and access customer reviews, listen to lullabies and download their lyrics and so much more.

Unified Commerce

A retailer planning to connect the physical with digital can consider investing in a unified commerce platform as it offers several advantages, such as agility to add business value through marketing initiatives, real-time sync between data using customer journey analytics, and more. Achieving perfection in unified commerce can be considered as retail’s next frontier after omnichannel. Leveraging unified commerce can increase revenue growth and margins in the hyper-connected world.


A retailer needs to observe which technologies and changes in the business model; competitors are leveraging. From brick and mortar chain of stores, legacy retail solutions to omnichannel and unified commerce platforms, the retail ecosystem is continually evolving. A smart retailer would pivot wisely after carefully analyzing the above-mentioned digital commerce trends.

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