After the pandemic, consumer behavior will never be the same. The introduction of social distancing, quarantine, remote work, and other restrictive measures has led to a fundamental shift in how we perceive and perform online shopping.
By analyzing the latest developments in new ecommerce startups, entrepreneurs can grasp the principles of leading a successful online retail business. This is especially true for innovative startups, which must always keep up with the times in order to stay afloat, survive, and scale.
Trends of ecommerce that transform the market
In the beginning of 2022, Euromonitor published a report on behavioral changes in the markets around the world, followed by a prediction of this year’s digital consumer trends. Ecommerce business founders might want to acquaint themselves with the postings to their full extent. Meanwhile, we picked the most relevant trends from both reports and combined them in this article.
C2C sales, thrift, and consequences of disruption
Faced with disruption of supply chains, online stores sometimes fail to provide goods and wares their customers are looking for. That’s why, when the desired product is not available, the consumers try to find workaround ways of getting the goods they love and want. This results in new trends of consumer behavior.
- Turning to thrift and second-hand stores
- Buying subscription and/or rental services
- Getting on digital waiting lists
- Forming group orders to simplify the delivery process
As Euromonitor found out, 33% consumers buy used goods at least once a season. They also exchange goods between themselves (consumer-to-consumer) since it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Instead of rampant consumerism, people indulge in thrift hunts, shopping for vintage wares, slow fashion, and nostalgic goods from their childhood or youth (toys, game consoles, comic books, tape players, etc.)
Seeing this new behavior, businesses introduced the following measures:
- Circular economy and RRR
- Investing in C2C marketplaces
- Opening stores of their used goods
Rising awareness of important things
Another strong trend is green ecommerce. As Euromonitor suggests, in 2021, 67% of consumers made shopping decisions based on their impact on the environment. Online trade is becoming more and more aware of climate protection, with eco-friendly, cruelty-free brands rising to the top.
With the help of mobile tracking apps and digital eco-labels, consumers are willing to check the carbon footprint of products. However, they are unwilling to pay more for green manufacture yet, even though it costs more to produce eco-friendly wares.
Apart from environment literacy, there is a strong increase of financial literacy. The post-pandemic volatility of the labor market in strongly developed countries has made work an unstable source of income. That’s why consumers are looking for new ones: they are interested in investments, as well as ways to monetize their hobbies and creativity. It makes applications with easy access to investments a huge hit.
This trend of financial awareness continues around the globe. Developing countries that previously had no access to online banking are finally getting it. It expands the possibilities of Internet shopping, connecting new territories to the vast network of ecommerce.
Inclusivity and diversity of Internet trade
Overall, the inclusivity of ecommerce is on a steady rise. For example, Euromonitor states that by 2040, the presence of senior citizens on the Internet will grow by 65%. Among consumers aged 60+,
- 35% find food delivery technology comfortable,
- 23% make weekly online purchases,
- 12% order delivery of groceries weekly.
Here are some examples of senior services that use innovative technologies. Japanese brand EVERING has created a contactless payment ring. It’s an easy and intuitive alternative to bank cards and Google Pay, and elderly people grasp swiftly how to pay for their purchases with such a distinctive object. Another company from China, JD.com, has released a smartphone for older users that helps them arrange a visit to a doctor or order home delivery of prescriptions.
Seniors are not the only group that finally saw their needs catered to. There is an overall increase of inclusivity and personalization in the market. Advertising materials no longer impose some perfect, artificially crafted image on their audiences — instead, they communicate, “You are perfect the way you are” and try to learn more about their clients’ identities.
Now, not only “cis white males” are targeted by online stores. Brands update their understanding of their customers, bringing consumer profiles closer to reality. In turn, consumers are looking for products that promote self-expression, bring a sense of comfort, and normalize individual characteristics. Just a few examples:
- Products for afro-textured curly hair
- Women’s clothes modeled on different body types
- Wares targeting LGBTQIA+, e.g. IKEA queer furniture
- Make-up kits developed for different skin tones
- Marijuana-infused goods (edibles, cosmetics, etc.)
2022 trends that might transform ecommerce business
As mentioned above, green ecommerce is expected to become one of the top priorities for consumers around the world. With harsher regulation and demand for high-level sustainability, new ecommerce startups and brands will have to take decisive climate action.
The need to reduce carbon footprint will force companies to rethink how their goods are manufactured, delivered, and recycled after use. Zero-emission policies will push them towards logistical changes, i.e. buying raw materials and/or ready-made wares from local producers, using delivery on-foot, and so on.
This, however, collides with the next predicted trend: instant delivery. Having experienced ultrafast order turnarounds (10–30 minute delivery), consumers won’t agree to wait for days, or even hours, to receive the purchased goods. Instead, they want their orders processed as quickly as possible — especially when it comes to groceries.
Some consumers might consider collecting orders themselves instead of getting them delivered straight to home. Retailers might accelerate this trend by providing more pickup options, opening self-delivery points, or offering beneficial perks for pickup.
Finally, the buzzword of 2021, metaverse is also predicted to reshape online trade. Shared 3D virtual spaces have become especially relevant in the wake of corona restrictions. Lockdowns are now mostly in the past, but consumers have assessed and appreciated the convenience of AR and VR technologies in entertainment, socializing, and shopping. In 2022, metaverse might immerse customers into a full-on shopping experience by recreating stores, goods, and dressing rooms in 3D.
New promising startups in ecommerce
To see how the trends reflect on the market, let’s examine some startups that opened during or not long before the COVID-19 outbreak and managed to show great results.
The founders of the American logistics startup Deliverr have found a disruptive way to launch express delivery of goods from online stores. They offer “All-inclusive, Amazon-like pricing with no long term contracts or hidden fees” on the startup’s website, providing ecommerce players with free two-day delivery.
Thanks to wide integration possibilities, Deliverr connects to most ecommerce platforms for startups and businesses alike. In 2020, the company increased its profit by 600% and attracted $170 million in venture capital investments.
This British delivery platform targets people of Chinese descent to offer them cheap, delicious, and authentic Chinese food and groceries. Hungry Panda has a clean interface, provides descriptions in the native language, and supports a common Chinese payment system WePay, making sure there are no barriers for Chinese compatriots overseas.
It’s a shopping service for European citizens that sends its users monthly bundles of women’s clothing. Each bundle consists of 5 items hand-picked by stylists in accordance with the user’s personal preferences. Users can specify their desired styles and price ranges, and they only pay for clothing pieces they keep. Returns are completely free of charge, and if a customer keeps all 5 items, they get a discount on the whole purchase.
Many people in the UK started preferring passenger cars to public transport to keep social distance. Responding to the increased demand, the Cazoo startup launched an app to view and buy used cars. Cazoo claims that in just about a year from its launch, it has reached a turnover of 100 million pounds, delivering thousands of cars for sale or rent every month.
Singaporean INKR is a platform for independent artists to publish and monetize their comics. Currently, it imports English-language content to present it to the Asian audience. With the rapid localization and the reduced distribution time, comics get quickly available for different audiences in different geographical regions.
Artists can make use of built-in monetization tools, such as advertising, subscription, or pay-per-chapter model. Having analyzed comic readers and their behavior in relation to individual works, AI highlights the most profitable monetization model to help artists boost their revenues.
INKR launched in October 2020 and showed a 200% month-on-month growth of monthly active users.
One can say that after the pandemic, ecommerce transformed from a promising business direction to an absolute necessity. Lockdowns showed that simply having an office to sell wares isn’t enough. Those who backed up their operations with online trade felt more or less secure, while offline retailers experienced enormous shocks and struggled to stay in the market.
By learning from new ecommerce startups that managed to survive the pandemic (or even got fuelled by it), founders will find working approaches to innovating online trade. However, combining the best ecommerce practices is only the first step in opening an online store. There are many more to come.