Top Retail Categories for Summer Retail: Is Your Cross-Border E-commerce Shop Ready?

June 15, 2021

Top Retail Categories for Summer Retail: Is Your Cross-Border E-commerce Shop Ready?

In 2020, international consumers shopped online in larger numbers, driving an acceleration of a pre-existing trend. The global pandemic was a major factor in this increase. Retailers had to act quickly and be more nimble to readjust their offerings to reflect the times. Now, as parts of the world are on track to a post-pandemic recovery, it may be time for retailers to make yet another shift.

Last year at this time, the hottest retail categories included athleisure, electronics, and home renovation/decor goods. For the times we were all living in, these categories make sense. But as we head into summer 2021, cross-border e-commerce merchants should be prepared for a change in what customers are looking to buy.

Here are five hot categories for summer retail:

  1. Luggage and bags. As more people have access to vaccines and COVID transmission continues to decline in many parts of the world, experts predict that this summer we’ll see a resurgence in travel, both for business and pleasure. Reflecting this trend, Macy’s recently reported in their earnings report that travel bags and luggage was one of the categories that has seen the most improvement in sales.  
  2. Swimsuits and resort wear. It’s not just luggage and bags that are heating up due to the expected travel surge: swimsuits and resort wear are also gaining traction. As global consumers prepare to go on vacation, they need new apparel to put in those freshly bought suitcases. According to recent research by NPD, “The swimwear category has improved quite a bit since December 2020. In fact, March 2021 sales growth rose by 185% compared to 2020.”
  3. Sustainable fashion. Purpose-driven brands were one of the hottest trends to come out of 2020, and we expect this to continue, particularly with younger consumers who are tuned into the environmental and social justice impacts of the fashion industry. New research shows that U.S. consumers are more aware of sustainable fashion now than they were a year ago. Expect to see a rise in global demand for clothing made from fabrics such as hemp and bamboo, as well as clothing and other goods made from recycled plastic materials.
  4. More formal apparel. After a year and a half of staying home in sweatpants, global consumers are sprucing up their wardrobes. In China, for example, taffeta is the hottest fabric of the season, recording a growth rate of 23 percent. The Mastercard SpendingPulse report reveals that jewelry sales had a marked year-over-year increase of 203.4% from May 2020, as more consumers browse online for items to complete their “going out” looks.
  5. Kids and teen apparel. As more school districts around the world prepare to return to the classroom, expect an increase in spending on traditional back-to-school clothing, footwear, and items such as backpacks and school supplies. In early May 2021, NPD noted that unit sales of these categories grew by triple-digits versus 2020 and by double-digits versus 2019. Mastercard SpendingPulse predicts that children and teen apparel will increase by 78.2 percent year over year from the period of July 15 through Sept. 6. However, cross-border retailers should pay close attention to when the school year begins in each country where they sell, as it will vary significantly based on geographic location.

But even more important to a brand’s cross-border success is the overall customer experience on its localized e-commerce site. Even if an e-commerce store carries the hottest trends, it won’t matter if international customers have to jump through hoops to make a purchase. Remember, the expectation by global customers of a seamless online shopping experience is only going to increase as more shoppers move online. Any frustration with retailers' websites, from the landing page to checkout, could create cart abandonment. 

Flow’s cross-border e-commerce platform removes the friction at every stage of the customer experience, so international purchases are simple and pain-free. To find out more about how Flow’s technology addresses the common barriers of cross-border shopping, get in touch today. 

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