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Tips & Guides — 01 Feb 2022
The Future of eCommerce – 13 Trends to Watch in 2022
We examined main eCommerce statistics and interviewed 20+ experts to learn what trends will shape the industry in 2022. Read on to get the overview of each trend and actionable advice on implementing them.
The main eCommerce trends to watch in 2022:
In the game-changing year 2020, the eCommerce sector has increased by more than 25%, which equals to average 10-year growth. Repeating such a success year after year is impossible, but the industry keeps the uptrend. In 2022, eCommerce purchases are expected to reach 21% of retail sales worldwide as more businesses move online.
Another factor affecting eCommerce growth in 2022 is continuing online shopping adoption. Customers not only get used to making purchases online. They see eCommerce as a safer alternative to brick-and-mortar stores, as it lets them shop without personal contact.
The flip side of this ongoing industry growth is increasing competition, hindering eCommerce businesses from easily acquiring and retaining customers. To stay in line in 2022, online shops will concentrate their efforts on finding new channels to reach their target audience and making their customer experiences exceptional.
35% of people say they would buy online more if they had an opportunity to try on a product. Though eCommerce has become an only option in many cases in the pandemic years, customers still want in-store experience. It leads to the rise of new technologies allowing to fit this need in 2022.
The most booming solutions are augmented and virtual reality. The AR/VR market is projected to rise from $12 to $58.7 billion in 2022. Apparel, beauty, and home decor are the sectors that will benefit the most from the eCommerce trend on AR and VR-based services. Some leading eCommerce stores, such as Sephora, have already adopted this technology.
“Customers want to try on clothes, make-up products, and even wall paint when shopping online. AR and VR give this opportunity, so the adoption of these technologies in eCommerce will continue to grow. Now AR/VR-based solutions are available for enterprise businesses only, but soon we can see the table turn.”
AR and VR technologies are still expensive to adopt – developing an AR eCommerce application may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Smaller businesses that can’t afford it will double down on other visual commerce tactics. Live shopping technology may become a breakthrough, as it allows showcase products on various platforms, from Shopify to TikTok.
In 2022, online shoppers expect a highly-personalized approach from eCommerce brands. Almost 80% of buyers are more likely to purchase from online stores that provide personalized customer experiences.
With many touch points between buyers and eCommerce stores, the death of third-party cookies, and growing concerns about user privacy, providing the desired level of personalization becomes a major eCommerce challenge. Thus, AI-driven personalization tools and advanced data-storing technologies will be in high demand.
“Customers expect advanced personalization across the whole buyer journey. So, AI-driven personalization in all processes, whether it’s marketing, sales, or support and communications, will play a key role and help drive eCommerce.”
“Omnichannel and hyper-personalized customer experience and IoT will improve user experience resulting in more accurate consumer targeting across platforms as well as retailers.”
AI offers online shoppers truly personalized experiences by analyzing their purchasing history and behavior. Thanks to it, AI-driven tools can alter storefronts or recommend suitable products for upselling.
Leading marketplaces and online stores are already making the most of AI-based recommendations. Amazon shows an A+ example of this tactic. This retailer analyzes the on-site search and view history and offers complementary products.
Almost 70% of shopping traffic and 57% of orders come from smartphones.
Mobile commerce is particularly popular across the booming APAC region, where phones are often the only way to access the Internet.
Thus, it’s crucial for eCommerce businesses to make their websites suitable for mobile users. Still, a whopping 88% of consumers find mobile shopping inconvenient. This leaves significant room for customer experience improvement. It may include speeding up the website load time, improving an interface, providing mobile-friendly payment options, and more.
Half the world population – 3.8 billion people – use social networks daily. Better yet, 43% of internet users research products to buy through social media. No wonder social networks will become one of the most effective eCommerce sales channels in 2022.
One more consequence of growing mobile commerce adoption is the increasing share of the purchases made through social media in various countries.
44% of customers aged 35-54 have purchased through social networks in India, 28% – in Australia, and 9% – in Japan.
Social media platforms actively implement new shopping opportunities. For instance, Facebook updated its Shops to let sellers create custom online stores without coding and natively promote them. Instagram has become one of the leaders in social commerce, offering the most robust set of shopping features.
Modern social networks help eCommerce businesses create in-store experiences without spending a fortune with the livestream shopping. This unique format allows online stores to employ several trends simultaneously, as it can work at the intersection of social & mobile shopping, creating in-store experiences, and influencer marketing.
According to Statista, the most-used payment options today are digital and mobile wallets, as well as credit and debit cards. However, new payment methods are coming into play. One of the fastest-growing models is buy now, pay later. It allows customers to defer payments and lets online stores sell more, as buyers are not limited by the amount of money they have at the moment.
Another rising star is cryptocurrency. Some major companies, such as Tesla, PayPal, and Starbucks, allow customers to pay with Bitcoin. Amazon is also preparing to adopt cryptocurrency, so other eCommerce companies probably will follow its steps soon.
The concern about environmental and ethical problems is rising, so people aspire to be more aware of where they shop. Half of the consumers would like to see more sustainable fashion brands, and 75% want eCommerce brands to lessen packaging. Three quarters of online shoppers even agree to pay more for environmentally friendly products and services.
“In 2022, eCommerce is going to focus on reducing the carbon footprint and single plastic packaging, offering customers the possibility to consume in a more environmentally-friendly way. The customer-centric approach has worked very well, but people are craving for some guilt-free consumption.”
To stay ahead of rivals, eCommerce businesses are trying to find more ways to become eco-friendly. For instance, Amazon launched a sustainability program, which includes achieving zero carbon emissions in twenty years and employing renewable energy.
Small eCommerce brands and online stores may state their eco-friendliness as well. They can reduce packaging, switch to biodegradable materials, reapproach delivery services to reduce carbon dioxide footprint or partner with nonprofits.
Half of the global online sales occur on marketplaces, such as Amazon, Shopify, or eBay. Customers prefer these eCommerce platforms because they offer good product selection for low prices and come across as reliable retailers.
Marketplaces have the necessary infrastructure to fulfill orders most effectively, making competition almost impossible for small eCommerce brands. Even the market leaders enter these platforms to increase their market share and reach new audiences.
However, some believe that in 2022 customers’ favor for marketplaces may take a U-turn. Rising concerns about unethical employee and partner treatment and poor customer experiences make some buyers detest marketplaces as well. The movement to support local businesses accrued in 2020 reinforces the desire to switch to direct-to-consumer shops.
To win over customers, eCommerce retailers can lean on a human connection, as it becomes a new luxury during the pandemic. Thus, consider providing top-notch customer service with a personal touch. Another strategy to stick to is offering unique products – they are the primary reason to shop at independent eCommerce businesses for 33% of buyers.
Changes in the industry drive shifts in eCommerce business promotion. With the higher competition on the market, advertising costs have spiked. For instance, in November 2020 cost per click on Facebook grew up to $1.21. In 2022, the numbers will increase as more businesses prefer digital advertising to traditional channels, such as television.
In these conditions, online shops focus on finding new promotion channels – outcome-based and transparent. Considering this, performance and partner marketing become staples of eCommerce business promotion. By diversifying advertising channels and partnering with other businesses, bloggers, and opinion leaders, companies can multiply their brand awareness, build trust, acquire new customers, and so on.
“eCommerce is one of the verticals that adopt partner and performance marketing willingly. eCommerce businesses seek reliable and outcome-based promotional methods, which leads to the growing popularity of CPL campaigns. Moreover, this channel’s becoming more secure – due to development of anti-fraud solutions, we will observe fraud level cut too by the end of 2022.”
According to the Loqate report, a stunning 99% of retailers failed deliveries of some online orders. This makes shipping one of the biggest pain points in eCommerce. Retailers know – those who can provide the flawless quality of delivery will thrive.
“Need for better delivery logistics is already taking place, so eCommerce businesses will double down on improving shipping quality. Advanced delivering processes and logistics will be fully functional across tier 1 countries by 2022, and beyond for the rest of the world.”
Quality and cheap (or, better, free) delivery may become a significant competitive advantage. To lessen shipping time and cost, many eCommerce businesses will employ modern technology – special robots and drones. They can be especially valuable for delivering orders locally. Many non-eCommerce companies, such as Domino’s, already use this technology.
“Businesses that can provide key information to customers when needed will win. To make it possible, eCommerce will leverage chatbots with a seamless transition to live agents. The key is to be able to offer the same level of service across various channels, not only web chat.”
In these conditions, the role of sales agents and associates will evolve from simply selling products like two decades ago to communicating with potential customers across channels and supporting their eCommerce journey.
One of the main sub-trends is providing access to sales agents via video during the sales and checkout process. This practice allows online stores to leverage exceptional customer experience and visual commerce at the same time.
Today, non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are all the rage. These blockchain-based digital tokens don’t have physical forms, which makes each of them unique. And this uniqueness allows content creators to charge unprecedented amounts of money for NFTs. eCommerce businesses can benefit from this new technology as well.
“2022 will be the year of NFT eCommerce, as shopping is gradually moving from reality to the virtual world. Employing NFTs also means less shipping costs or returns for the eCommerce companies.”
The perspective of cutting some costs seems alluring, but how exactly can eCommerce use NFTs? First of all, businesses can replenish the product line with digital collectibles, such as artwork pieces.
Another way is to couple tangible goods with NFTs. For instance, eCommerce brands can sell apparel with a designer’s signature in NFT. This move lets them prove the exclusivity of the piece, which consequently increases the value and the price of the product.
One more tactic is to use NFTs in a more practical way. Thanks to blockchain technology at its core, NFT allows securely storing various information. It makes NFT a more advanced substitute for UPC and SKU and allows better data tracking.
It’s hard to call the rise of subscription services an emerging trend since it’s been around for at least a decade. However, lately, it started to experience rapid growth – during just 2020, subscription economics has increased by 21%.
“2022 will see an increase in eCommerce subscriptions – think “hot sauce of the month” or monthly dog toys.”
The primary sector to benefit from this trend is Saas commerce in B2B and B2C environments. However, eCommerce selling more traditional tangible goods can also employ this model. For example, an online pet shop can offer its customers to subscribe to monthly delivery and get dog food for a lower price than a one-off purchase.
In 2022, the eCommerce industry will become more sophisticated. Increasing customer demand for personalization underlies the further implementation of artificial intelligence and the complication of data management.
Online shoppers expect to get seamless multichannel experience with stores. Thus, eCommerce brands have to apply new technologies, add extra payment options, and present themselves on various platforms. Online stores have to offer an excellent user experience, pay attention to sustainability, and explore new, more transparent, and outcome-based promotional methods to hook customers.
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