With the ever-developing digitalization, the eCommerce niche has become a driver of key transformations in the global economy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has given eCommerce an additional bonus. Changing consumer habits as well as the struggle for the buyer’s attention forced companies to switch to doing business online. eCommerce continues to strengthen its positions; Group M predicts that by 2024, its share in the global retail turnover will reach 25%.
In recent years, with the development of eCommerce, we have seen a lot of tactics from process automation to augmented reality technologies. Let’s take a look at what eCommerce trends will be relevant in 2022 and see what the future has in store for us.
eCommerce expansion — a global trend for the coming years
The pandemic and its consequences have triggered the rapid development of eCommerce. Before the coronavirus crisis, the forecast of the Data Insight agency indicated that the eCommerce market in Russia would reach 3.6 trillion rubles in 2022. But after the COVID-19 outbreak, this figure has risen to 4.4 trillion rubles. Analysts predict a turnover to reach 7.2 trillion rubles by 2024 against 5.6 trillion predicted before the pandemic. According to experts, in 2022, global eCommerce sales will exceed $5.5 trillion; by 2025 they should reach $7.4 trillion.
The buyers are continually interested in interacting with sellers remotely. Before the pandemic, the key factor in attracting consumers was to improve the shopping experience, but during the COVID-19, the decision to go online was additionally influenced by trade restrictions and increasing demand for delivery. As a result, consumer habits have changed as new solutions were adopted all over the world. In modern realities, they started to be perceived as important conditions that shape purchasing behavior.
eCommerce trends in 2022 aim to make shopping processes as convenient for the consumer as possible, quickly resolving all their questions and doubts.
The growth of mobile commerce
Along with increasing confidence in online shopping, mobile sales are increasing as well. To a certain extent, this is due to the rising use of smartphones and tablets. But the key factors are comfort and convenience that shopping via mobile devices brings.
A mobile commerce 2019–2021 analysis published by Adjust and Sensor Tower predicts a further increase in purchases via smartphones. In 2021, 54% of online sales came from mobile eCommerce. The market volume exceeded $3.5 trillion (20% more than in 2020). App installs are up 10% compared to the last year’s results.
Startups need to take this trend into account when creating eCommerce products. This knowledge can be used for adapting websites for smartphones (mobile-first strategy), offering alternative payment options, making intuitive interfaces and functions, etc.
Direct sales to the end customer (D2C)
The global trend is Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) interaction — communication between manufacturers and buyers with no intermediaries. Brands and companies strive for direct contact with the end consumer.
D2C helps both parties save money, but a successful business requires a good knowledge of its target audience, its customers’ needs, touchpoints, and the best ways to meet them. By developing eCommerce on their own and minimizing intermediary chains, manufacturers are adopting retail experience and direct customer interaction.
Omnichannel combines disparate channels of interaction with customers into a single system to organize a seamless shopping experience. This eCommerce trend unites sales from everywhere, and we know that the path to purchase can start with a search engine, paid content, social networks, online and offline stores, and so on. At the same time, it’s important to synchronize those channels with each other, uniting all the communication.
One of the main omnichannel trends is using Customer Data Platform instead of CRM. CRMs record every interaction with the consumer, but they cannot combine information from different sources and/or keep records of the customers’ virtual activity. CDPs collect data from individual channels into a single profile, building end-to-end communication. As a result, the company’s income is growing not only due to effective customer acquisition but also due to retaining and transferring them into regular customers. The transition to CDP might be relevant for startups that have lots of data about their consumers. CRM is enough for smaller projects at the initial stages.
The trend of personalization is always relevant. eCommerce needs to improve the customer experience, build brand loyalty, retain clients, and offer products most suitable for rising needs. Especially valuable are personalized recommendations on goods, instructions, masterclasses, and guides that answer users’ questions.
In marketing, personalization is associated with collecting customer data to provide relevant results, emails with personal messages, or individual discounts (for example, birthday coupons).
Customers are already accustomed to fulfilling their needs without performing uncomfortable actions, such as conversing with sellers, waiting in line, doing paperwork, and so on.
Automation solves many problems:
- It facilitates shopping. As a result, the customer base grows, further increasing sales.
- Automated operations free employees from the routine. For example, chatbots can answer standard questions, automate payments, scan articles in warehouses, and so on.
- It increases labor productivity, accelerates business processes, eliminates the human element, and so on.
Automation tools include various software (CRM, ERP), robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
IDC analysts estimate the 2021 AI market at $327.5 billion. By 2024, its volume should increase to $554.3 billion (annual growth of 17.5%). There is a growing demand for the robotization of routine processes, combining bots with artificial intelligence.
In eCommerce, AI software allows getting over a third of specialists relieved from their work. Voice assistants successfully replace salesmen, talk about products, solve customer problems, and implement a personalized approach by offering recommendations and compiling product selections based on shopping behavior and order history. AI monitors warehouse stocks, maintains paperwork, and optimizes marketing policies.
Analysts predict that the chatbot market will grow by 24.3% annually, reaching $1.25 billion by 2025. It greatly simplifies the shopping experience and saves employees’ working time.
In eCommerce, chatbots can select products (by color, size, and further characteristics), provide advice, answer questions, send notifications about stages of order processing, and accept payments.
Voice commerce is used to find goods and services, make purchases, and track orders. Voice assistants (Siri by Apple, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Alice by Yandex, Google Home) are becoming personal sales assistants. They lead the consumer through a purchase, provide information, remind about incomplete orders, conduct surveys, collect feedback, replace call center employees.
Voice-assisted shopping is great for buying everyday items that don’t need additional visual stimuli: groceries, household items, etc. Analysts predict that by 2023, there will be 8 billion voice-assisting devices in active use.
Another way to stimulate sales and meet customer needs is video consulting. For example, the Eyezon service organizes personal live broadcasts at a user’s request.
In eCommerce, video consulting is most appropriate for goods that provide a strong visual stimulus: clothing, shoes, house decor, electronics, and so on.
Development of marketplaces
Another trend is online shopping through marketplaces. Many consumers prefer to buy everything in one place, combining products of different categories and brands in their cart. In addition to a wide and varied assortment, another advantage is convenient ordering, delivery, and return of products. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, benefit from a large audience coverage and a low entry threshold.
But there are some downsides, such as difficulties with making your brand recognizable, harder implementation of marketing strategies due to restricted access to consumers, the need to comply with the rules, strict competition with other sellers, and so on. It is advisable to use the marketplace as the main distribution channel only at the early stages of business. In the future, the company needs omnichannel.
Creating your own online marketplace is not easy. It’s a tough job even for entrepreneurs who already have similar experiences or want to scale their offline business. Developing a marketplace as a startup is also costly since you will need to invest heavily in marketing and user acquisition.
The trend for conversion rate optimization is aimed at creating a positive shopping experience, which is especially important in a highly competitive market of eCommerce. Shopping via online platforms should be comfortable, simple, and understandable to the user. It must also be beneficial at least in some way. This is the only way a potential buyer can become a real one.
Conversion optimization allows you to:
- Increase sales and net profit. Conversion rate optimization does not require increased advertising costs or reduced product prices. Sometimes the smallest change to a landing page can make a big difference.
- Reduce the risk of making wrong decisions. Optimization is not based on subjective opinions and intuition. Instead, it relies on research, calculations, analytics, and hypothesis testing.
- Increase user loyalty through a successful shopping experience.
The CRO algorithm consists of collecting and analyzing data, offering and testing insights/ideas/hypotheses, studying the results, implementing suitable options, and testing their real performance.
Zero-code (or low-code, no-code) allows startups to quickly create an MVP and test performance hypotheses. The approach involves using ready-made solutions without writing code. The most common low-coding tools include:
- Tilda — for creating landings, multi-page websites
- Ecwid — online stores
- Adalo, Glide — mobile applications
- Airtable — databases
- Zapier — connecting different services
- Integromat — chatbots & automated workflows.
If the hypothesis demonstrates its efficiency and demand during live-audience tests, then a startup might want to involve developers.
PWA (Progressive Web App) is a website that looks like a mobile application. You can use it even when your Internet is down. Creating and supporting such websites is cheaper for the company since they don’t need to develop separate resources for web and smartphones (iOS, Android).
PWAs run in a browser but have all the technical advantages of apps. They are fast-loading, user-friendly, and offer higher engagement rates. According to AliExpress, their PWA increased website conversion rates by 104%.
Social commerce and influencer partnerships
The trend for social commerce involves not only redirecting users from social networks to an online store but also direct sales on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc. Some platforms and instant messengers are at the testing stage (YouTube, TikTok), others have already launched shopping options — Facebook Shops, WhatsApp, VKontakte. This greatly simplifies the interaction between the sellers and customers. After looking at the review of the product, a person can buy it instantly without unnecessary clicks and transitions.
The influencer marketing industry continues to grow. Companies use influencers to promote their products and attract customers. Trust towards influencers has been growing in recent years, and it’s worth paying attention not only to the number of subscribers but also to their engagement. Influencer marketing can improve a company’s reputation, significantly increasing sales through referrals.
The trend includes using augmented reality (AR) technologies, creating virtual clothing, or developing 3D showrooms.
Virtual try-on and the use of AR improves the shopping experience as it reduces the number of product returns. The latter aspect is most valued by retailers since returns cause significant damage to online trade.
In addition, virtual stores act as another tool to attract customers. It distinguishes the company from its competitors because users get intrigued by visiting an online fitting room or seeing a piece of furniture in their interior. On platforms where augmented reality technologies are implemented, 71% of consumers are ready to make purchases, and 40% are willing to pay extra for such an opportunity.
Subscription purchases are extremely profitable for retailers. This way, they get regular customers. This business model also helps with making accurate forecasts about the company’s income.
As for the consumer, a subscription eliminates the need to repeatedly place orders for goods that are in constant demand.
Variety of payment options
One of the key trends in eCommerce is implementing multiple payment methods. If the customer does not find a suitable option, there is a high risk of losing them. The variety of payment methods is often the determining factor when choosing an online store.
Recent years have seen the rapid growth of alternative payment options and fast payment systems. According to TAdviser, for the first half of 2021 alone, the volume of contactless transactions grew by 36%. The number of payers increased 2.5 times.
Retailers might find it useful to provide both standard payment methods (credit cards, upon delivery, etc.) and newer ones, such as electronic and digital wallets, fast payment systems, QR codes, pay links, crypto, etc. Of course, all the transactions must be secure.
It’s important to consider including installment and credit options. BNPL increases customer loyalty since it allows them to purchase goods immediately and pay later, or in installments over a certain period.
Summing up. Things you can do today to become a success tomorrow
All 2022 eCommerce trends are increasing convenience, facilitating shopping, and implementing solutions for customers’ comfort. Customer behavior depends not only on the product quality and needs but also on interaction with the seller. If it’s difficult to find goods and place an order, a customer will immediately leave the online store. eCommerce aims to cover customers’ needs by quickly dispelling their doubts about the purchase.
Many trends did not originate today. Still, they remain relevant (marketplaces, automation, personalization, and so on). Others principles, such as direct sales through social networks, virtualization, or green shopping, appeared not so long ago. Green trends are not as widespread in Russia as in the West, but the demand for environmental initiatives is growing steadily. Environmental solutions include recycling raw materials, using eco-packaging and biodegradable materials, transitioning to electric vehicles, etc.
In eCommerce, it’s important to take into account not only current market trends but also user preferences for different products. In some markets, automation will come first, in others — customer communication, some countries and/or cities find flexible delivery and return conditions essential to a shopper’s experience. It means that you need to conduct surveys, study reviews, and test hypotheses to make the right decisions.