10 E-Commerce Trends To Look Out For In 2022
It’s the push and pull. The to and fro. It’s the thing that feels like a bit of a tug of war. A relentless and highly competitive online arena with expert players from all over the world.
Welcome to the ever-changing and ever-evolving world that is E-Commerce.
Now, it’s time for you to get ahead.
Ahead of the curve, ahead of your competition, heck, even ahead of your expectations while you’re at it. To exceed what you thought you were capable of in your online capabilities, you need to know, understand and adapt to the trends in E-Commerce for 2022.
The overarching theme this year is that marketing is getting more and more expensive, while data protection laws reduce efficiency. Therefore, acquiring new customers is not as efficient as it used to be anymore. Meanwhile, for most brands, there is still a lot of potential for growth in their existing customer base by turning them into repeat buyers or even fans.
To do so, investment is set to shift from the classic marketing (e.g., ads) to offering a better user experience, developing products in a more sustainable way and genuinely nurturing relationships.
We’ve outlined 10 tectonics that are shifting and building newly formed homes in 2022.
Omnichannel Strategy/Customer Experience
‘’Omnichannel -- also spelled omnichannel -- is a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience,’’
‘’An omnichannel marketing strategy allows teams to meet their consumers where they are, with the right message at the right time. Through omnichannel marketing, organizations can deliver a unified customer experience that acknowledges the previous touchpoints along the customer journey.’’
What once started as the multichannel approach has really been the fundamental bedrock that is today’s omnichannel idea. It is said that 63% of shopping instances begin online (source).
Consumers are more hungry for everything. Literally everything. They want the fastest loading speeds when it comes to your website. They’d like an engaged team that they can contact should they need anything. Not only that, but they’d like to pay using various methods, and they want to be able to interact with your brand through Google searches, your social media presence, paid ads and the list goes on.
You need to make sure that you are not only available at each one of these touchpoints, but also deliver consistent customer experiences in each channel and most importantly allow for an easy transition between all channels.
Each touchpoint with a customer is the potential of a sale. This is where the term ‘omnichannel’ comes in, you have to be there for each step of the customer journey, regardless of where they are walking to you from, so you need to be available on more than one channel. You must think ahead and think about where your customers might be searching for you and position yourself in that exact spot/(s).
This might be a good time to add that the McKinsey report shows that two-thirds of customers prefer a remote human or digital self-serve option. So, it is clear that customer needs have varied and will continue to vary, so you really need to make sure you’re available wherever your customer would prefer to find you.
This is quite a big one to wrap your head around, so we would like to explain it utilizing an example:
So for a starter, multichannel is the idea of having different channels you sell through e.g., a company has flagship stores in London, Paris & Berlin, an online store, a mobile app and also sells through Amazon and eBay. Each of those would be a channel.
With omnichannel, the idea is that those channels don't exist in a vacuum, but weave into each other and allow for a seamless customer experience.
Imagine a fashion brand. You visit their website, discover some items there. You can put them on a wishlist, go to their store and the app helps you find the items in the store, so you can try them on. You choose to buy a few, but there's a long line at the register. You quickly download the app, scan the labels on the clothes to put them into your virtual cart and put the real life items back. Then you just leave the store, while you check out and pay for the items on the app. They get delivered 2 days later, but one has a stain on it. You go to the store again to complain. They take the return and hand you a new garment from their stock.
This would be a good example of a true omnichannel experience, with all touchpoints interacting with each other. In the future, there might be even more components in your buyer's journey, like virtually trying on the clothes or anything like that, but we won’t get into that just yet.
Point one leads seamlessly through to point two. Sales through Social media.
Here’s a statistic that might just blow your mind (and also make this a lot more believable).
‘’By the end of 2021, over 57% of the earth’s population were signed up to at least one social media platform.’’
How insane is that! Then again, Instagram had more than a billion users by the end of 2021 (source), and that’s just one platform, so that seems about right. Then you have online sales portals like Facebook Marketplace, where you can also sell your products and market yourself. Facebook Marketplace also allows you to sell through Facebook Messenger so that you can have direct contact with your customers too. (source)
A famous trend that is continuing to grow is the ‘reign of the influencer’ who are users on platforms with a high following count and high engagement rate, and they often plug products to their audience. This is a trend within the social media age that we don’t see slowing down. Shopping through Instagram is just so easy, effortless and the page itself is so visually appealing that you will want to click on an item instantly. The great thing here too is that businesses can link their products on each of their posts. So, when you see that little white dot when you click on a picture and the little bag icon that pops up in the left-hand corner of the image, by clicking on that you can see the product description and product price.
Other than global exposure, another benefit to these social media pages is that they make video marketing straightforward to implement. They already have all the features you need to make the perfect video of your products. Unboxing videos, tutorials, and explainers are examples of videos that you can broadcast (of course you can add these to your website too). This is a great way of selling your product and advertising yourself.
‘’Social commerce sales are expected to triple by 2025. Nearly 50% of internet users in China make purchases through social media platforms, compared to 30% in the US.’’
Conversational Commerce & Chatbots
Let’s take a closer look at conversational commerce, now. This is where the power of having a strong support team can really mean an increase in sales. If you are available to help your customers find the correct product exactly when they are on your site, browsing, then you could greatly increase your sales.
But, how do you handle a large amount of support and sales chats? This is where chatbots come into play. The perfect ‘self-service’ support for customers, without requiring any human interactions, especially for the more common questions that don’t actually require a human being and can be answered by a bot instead.
With the right tech team behind you, you’ll be able to implement chatbots that are both functional and serve as a massive resource to your business. Keep in mind that they’re pretty up there when it comes to costs and technical requirements of implementing them in your website.
With the way the world has shifted even more toward less human interaction with the pandemic, chatbots have been a clear winner over the last two years. Whilst people are itching to get back to shopping in person and appreciate the importance of actual brick and mortar stores, you can’t ignore how helpful chatbots have been over the last period.
They are complex to introduce to a business as they require quite a budget due to needing to hire round the clock staff (unless you specify that your chatbots are only available during certain hours.) However, the benefit of chatbots is that you can implement a string of commonly asked questions that will hopefully answer most of the inquiries you receive. This will reduce the workload for your physical support team and leave them only with the more rare question every now and again.
It’s always easier to write to a chatbot at the moment and inquire about shipping details to make sure the pot you ordered truly will arrive on Friday before you need to cook with it on Saturday. Contrary to sending through an email and only receiving an answer within 2 – 4 business days.
It essentially opens up a great communication portal where you’re able to share information that ranges from producing specifications to delivery information – all from one nifty chat interface.
Augmented Reality & the Metaverse
Augmented Reality is already crazy cool. What Facebook aims to do by entering the Metaverse as ‘Meta’ is next level. The metaverse is an online space in which people (us/humans/users of the platform) can act, behave and shop as avatars.
It’s the way of the future and an extremely exciting new path for the age of the internet.
Companies like NASCAR and Hyundai are already taking advantage of this platform and making their presence known. They’ve come up with clever ways in which consumers can experience what it is like to drive a NASCAR or Hyundai car by creating ‘game situations/stimulations’ on this. It’s the next space for advertising and raising brand awareness. It’s essentially the 2021 version of the 1800s billboard. And look how long those stayed around, I mean we still have billboards covering the faces of massive buildings in Times Square today. They’re still such a great source of advertising and marketing! So just imagine how long augmented reality and Metaverse tactics will be around for.
‘’Incorporating augmented reality into an existing ecommerce platform has proven to double conversion rates and increase cart size by 60% for online retailers.’'
Sustainability & Social Responsibility
Consumers are more conscious of how they’re shopping and where they’re shopping than they’ve ever been. Consumers want to support brands that align with their personal beliefs, and so it is crucial for brands to create the brand image that most suits them and ties in with sustainability for the planet. Being environmentally conscious and friendly is probably the biggest and most important trend, well, ever really.
Consumers are aware of who they are shopping with and want to support brands that are local to their region, to support local small businesses and shop from brands that have a positive impact on the environment. E.g., a small business that wraps their goods in recyclable goods is a great start for one!
Studies show that customers are 4.3 times more loyal to eco-friendly businesses and that conversion rates increase by up to 20%.
‘’47% of the consumers said having a local presence was a significant factor for which brands they shop from.* Consumers are 4x more likely to purchase from a company with strong brand values. And a whopping 77% are concerned about the environmental impact of the products they buy.’’
Supporting eco-friendly businesses is something that excites consumers and gives them even more of a personal reason to want to support you. This means that trust will be built between your brand and the consumer, which will turn into the acquisition of loyal supporters and fans of your business, which is the goal!
Mobile Commerce & Mobile First
‘’In 2021, nearly 73% of ecommerce sales are expected to come from purchases on mobile devices.’’
‘’Especially considering statistics have shown that people are 62% less likely to purchase from a brand after a negative mobile experience.’’
This is another trend that has been going on for a while and shows no sign of slowing down.
People are always on the move. When they’re in the tube, on the train, waiting in line for a coffee, on their lunch break, whatever the case – people have their mobile phones with them. Even at home, the smartphone, or tablet is the go-to device for browsing and shopping.
So capitalize on that.
Create a website that is user-friendly for mobile online visitors. Long gone should be the times, where the mobile view of a website was just a bad derivative of the desktop view. Today, websites and online stores should be planned with a mobile first approach from the get go. To stay ahead you need to ensure that you are creating an engaging experience for your online shoppers, that’s really the most important thing to do at the end of the day.
Building strong customer relationships
When I think of the word ‘Subscription’ (if I were a business owner, so from that perspective) my immediate next thought would be ‘Yes, that’s customer retention’.
The growth of users signing up for loyalty programs or subscribing to newsletters and other marketing material really comes down to one thing: The brand needs to be offering true value to its customers.
It is the task of brands to think out of the box, which is fair, as customer retention is as up there in trust as brands and customers can really get. So, you have to work for it.
Brands will need to develop products around recurring order ideas. e.g., subscribers receiving a new wine that they can taste each month, in combination with a nice experience around that, like a collaboration with a picnic blanket company, so the slogan would be ‘Wine And Outside Dine’.
There are a lot of great and original ideas and adding a positive collaboration will not hurt as you then gain access to another companies' subscribers too (legally that’s a bit of a trickier subject, as you’d need the sign-off but in theory this is true).
Gaining these types of loyal customers has an added marketing benefit, as they often go out and become your brand advocates. They are so infatuated with you as a company, that they tell all their friends about you, and suddenly, you have a whole bunch more loyal customers. It’s not the easiest program to get off the ground, but once you’re in the air, then you’re golden, as these customers tend to stay with you through rain or snow.
This is the act of selling directly to consumers and avoiding all the resellers and intermediaries that we’ve all gotten so accustomed to.
It is a trend that has been growing for the past five years, and is not showing signs of slowing down. A big reason for that is that customers want to know important information about the product they are buying. Who better to ask than the original supplier/producer themselves? There is often a lack of guidance and product knowledge when buying from a reseller, which is why D2C is all the rave. They have the answers, it’s great for consumers.
D2C is on the rise and this trend has been accelerated by many retail outlets closing shop during the pandemic, which left brands looking for other revenue sources. This has all come into fruition with the creation of online stores and other new sales channels.
It’s online stores that have given manufacturers and wholesalers the option of being able to market, advertise and sell directly to the end-consumer.
The benefit to you, as an online store owner, is that you gain access to customers directly, through which you can grow a more in-depth understanding of their wishes and needs. Of course, you are also avoiding paying a percentage of the sale to your middle man.
Buyers Journey Optimization
The buyer’s journey needs to be as clear and pristine as the water in the Alps.
It’s from garnering the attention of the potential customer through various channels, ensuring that they are repeatedly seeing your brand and also getting a positive image from this. So, when they move on over to your actual social media channel, or dare I say it, to your website, they are impressed.
The images and the text on your website need to be in line with your brand image and easy for them to navigate through. If you have any kind of AR marketing set in place where they can visually see your product range 3D, great, if not, also fine.
Remember that they’re more than likely looking at your site from their phone, so make sure that the set-up and design works just as well there as on the desktop.
Ultimately, then ensure that their ‘adding to cart’ and ‘go to checkout’ stages are seamless too. Once they’re purchased, make sure that the delivery runs smoothly and perhaps email them with a discount code for being a new shopper or ask if they would like to be kept in the loop with upcoming sales (i.e. sign up for your newsletter) and potentially gain an all important subscriber.
Custom Headless Websites
We put this as the tenth point as it really ties together a lot of what we have said before. If you want to engage with the trends above, you will need an e-commerce setup, that’s flexible and can be easily experimented with. The solution to this is the Headless (Commerce) approach.
Quick explanation first. What is ‘Headless’?
This term boiled down is the act of decoupling the front-end of your website with the back-end. If you’d like a lengthier explanation, take a look at our blog here.
The benefit of this is that your front-end can subsequently be coded, designed and set up in a tailor made manner, giving you all the freedom to engage with new channels and add features at will.
The front-end devs that you take on board here will be able to work on and create a website that is best suited for your brand. You see, when you create a website, you can either go the template route or the custom route. We suggest going the custom route. We then further propose going the headless custom route, as this will give you more flexibility than you could ever imagine.
The budget for these projects is of course higher, and the time it takes to create them is longer than if you went the template route, but it allows you to create something that no one has. It also lets you tweak and modify small things on your website that you see, through research, your customers want more of. So, you’re essentially able to tailor the user experience customers have on your website, which means that they will be more likely to buy. This is especially the case with large corporations. The smallest tweaks can cause such a positive ripple effect in terms of revenue return and customer satisfaction.
It’s the way of the future, so get on board as soon as you can.
It’s going to be an exciting 2022, that’s for sure! With all the trends cropping up, don’t forget to remember that you don’t necessarily need to incorporate all these ideas to thrive as a business. Set some time aside to understand your target market and see where you fit in on the scale of small business to large enterprise. Determine your budget and then cherry-pick the options that you feel best suit your business.
If you want to stay on top of the topics lined out above, you need a technical platform that is flexible and gives you the freedom to implement new features and approaches and a great customer experience. This can be done with the headless approach. If you have any questions or need assistance in creating a headless website, feel free to contact us through our website or shoot us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
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Natalie MillerMarketing Manager
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