The Covid-19 pandemic changed everything for eCommerce companies, and the shift in customer behavior is here to stay. According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, eCommerce accounted for more than 21.1% of all retail sales in the U.S. at its peak in Q4 of 2020, compared to 14.8% at the beginning of 2019. A similar boost has occurred around the world, and it shows no signs of slowing.
All this buzz around eCommerce has inspired well-known brick-and-mortar retailers to up their online game, and the increased competition has delivered some truly innovative trends. It’s an exciting time to be involved in online retail sales, but successfully competing in 2022 will require you to adapt and integrate some of these eCommerce trends.
Top 10 eCommerce Trends for 2022
The following are some of the top eCommerce trends that online retailers are poised to embrace in 2022.
1. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)
In the US, The number of BNPL users in the US is likely to grow from 45.1 million in 2021 to 76.6 million by 2025.
The Buy Now, Pay Later model allows shoppers to pay for products in regular installments, over a period of time. Shoppers often prefer this method over credit card payments, since BNPL agreements are typically interest-free.
Studies find that US Adults who earn between $50,000 – $99,999/year prefer BNPL over credit cards.
Some popular platforms that facilitate BNPL transactions include Klarna, PayPal, Afterpay, Affirm, and Sezzle. Mastercard is set to enter the BNPL market in 2022.
Retailers are adopting the BNPL model because it has been shown to:
- Reduces cart abandonment rate
- Boosts sales
- Speeds up the checkout process
- Increases order value size
Pro Tip: Shopify offers a BNPL plugin for its customers called Shop Pay Installments. If you use Shopify as your eCommerce platform, you won’t need to integrate a third-party BNPL provider.
2. Loyalty Programs
According to a YouGov survey, 68% of US adults like loyalty programs that send personalized offers/discounts based on their purchase history.
People love eCommerce loyalty programs because they reward regular customers for repeat purchases. They receive rewards like cash-back, discounts, next-purchase coupons, and freebies. Meanwhile, companies like Starbucks can use the data from their loyalty programs to understand their customers’ buying behaviors and present them with special offers based on their unique purchase history.
Benefits of Loyalty Programs include:
- Improves customer retention
- Increases sales
- Improves overall customer experience
- Promoting to word-of-mouth sales
- Providing valuable data about consumer behavior
Note: If 20% of the sales are sourced from loyalty programs, it can be considered successful.
A May 2021 Stifel and Morning Consult survey found that 71% of US adults ages 18 to 55 care immensely about product sustainability.
Achieving eCommerce sustainability means building a brand that supports environmentally-friendly practices, from green packaging to more eco-friendly shipping. Not only is it the right thing to do for the planet, but it’s an important issue for many consumers. In other words, going green might help you expand your market share while you help make the earth more habitable.
The two eCommerce giants, Apple and Amazon, are heavily investing in sustainability.
- Amazon created The Climate Pledge Fund, a program with a $2 billion budget dedicated to funding companies building.”
- Apple has trimmed carbon emission by 40% over the span of 5 years. The company has also reported that 175 of its suppliers will be using renewable energy to reduce annual carbon production by 18 million metric tons.
4. Sales within Metaverse and other Gaming Platforms
Facebook has rebranded its parent company with the name “Meta,” and soon it will launch Metaverse—the Virtual Reality world where users can connect and play games. This represents a powerful new marketing channel for eCommerce companies.
Facebook opened its new Horizon Worlds platform at the end of 2021. Although it’s not quite ready for advertising and in-world eCommerce sales, that’s coming soon!
Worldwide brands such as Nike, Gucci, Coca-Cola, and Vans are planning to sell virtual, branded goods to consumers. Meanwhile, other gaming systems will open up their platforms to eCommerce sales. For example, fashion brand Balenciaga recently partnered with Epic Games to launch their Fortnight clothing line. Also, Nike recently launched Nikeland on the Roblox gaming platform, where players can buy virtual Nike gear for their gaming avatars.
Benefits of eCommerce companies entering virtual words:
- Opportunity is wide open in this new, innovative space
- It offers tremendous visibility, especially for reaching younger demographics
5. Rise of B2B eCommerce
96% of Business-to-Business (B2B) buyers who chose online procurement during the pandemic said they would consider continuing to purchase online, even after everything goes back to normal.
Much of the attention eCommerce has received following the Covid-19 pandemic has been focused on Business-to-Consumer (B2C) eCommerce, but it’s important not to neglect Business-to-Business eCommerce—which also received a powerful boost.
Amazon’s B2B eCommerce report highlights the industry distribution of potential B2B buyers across industries, and a significant portion of government, healthcare, education, and business buyers plan to conduct the majority of their business purchasing online:
Of course, if you’re in B2B eCommerce, your approach to reaching business buyers will be a little different. That’s why we put together a thorough guide exploring the differences between B2B and B2CeCommerce websites. Be sure to check it out if you’re looking to maximize B2B eCommerce sales.
6. Video Marketing
According to research by Moz, 67% of consumers are influenced by video reviews.
Video is all the rage these days in eCommerce, with online retailers leveraging everything from product explainer videos to video testimonials in their marketing offers. It makes perfect sense when you think about it because video takes the guesswork out of ordering a product you’ve never seen before. You can see the item in action, get a sense of its size (which a photo might not convey), and understand how it works if it’s a product with moving parts. Plus, people tend to prefer video over reading through product descriptions.
Video marketing offers:
- Easy and dynamic engagement
- The opportunity to display authentic customer reviews and demonstrate social proof
- Reduced likelihood of costly returns, since customers know what they’re getting
Pro Tip: Software platforms like VideoWise can help you find, collect and post customer-generated review videos for the products you sell.
7. Social Commerce/Influencer Marketing
Social Commerce was responsible for $30 billion in sales in the US alone last year.
Social commerce involves selling products directly through social media channels. Short videos, paid advertisements, and influencer marketing help drive purchase decisions on social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube Shorts.
Shopify and other eCommerce platforms have invested in efforts to help their customers take advantage of social commerce. By partnering with TikTok, eCommerce companies that use Shopify can easily advertise on the platform. The TikTok Ads Manager sits on the Shopify dashboard, making it easy to create, customize, and publish product ads.
Benefits of social commerce:
- Social proof from influencers can boost sales
- Brands can gain followers and expand their reach
- Social commerce improves brand-to-consumer communication and customer engagement
8. Live Streaming Commerce (Swipe up to Buy Now)
A report from McKinsey predicts that live commerce could account for 10-20% of all eCommerce sales by 2026.
Have you ever found yourself flipping through TV channels at a hotel, stumbling the Home Shopping Network? You may have wondered who on earth would buy a pair of earrings from a stranger on TV. Well, something similar is taking the eCommerce world by storm!
Live Streaming Commerce is a new trend where brands (or influencers they’ve hired) do live streams (i.e., produce live content where their audience can interact with them), placing commercial products front-and-center. And they’re not just plugging those products and offering a link in the description. Some video streaming platforms actually make it possible to purchase those items directly from a live stream.
Live stream commerce is currently quite popular in China, and it’s starting to gain ground in the U.S. as well. Brands can livestream shows on television, social media channels, their website, or their mobile app.
The following are some examples of successful livestream commerce efforts.
a. Walmart + TikTok
Walmart recently collaborated with TikTok for a live-streamed shopping experience. Viewers could add items to their cart with a simple click.
The event managed to garner 7 times more viewers than anticipated and led to a 25% increase in followers’ count.
b. Amazon Live
Amazon has launched a standalone livestream platform called “Amazon Live” for its audience. The platform has an ongoing queue of shoppable livestreams, where influencers and curators post product-oriented videos along with special offers.
Viewers can also ask product-related questions on the chat, which increases engagement and boosts sales.
c. Facebook + Live Shopping Fridays
Facebook is experimenting with live shoppable videos where viewers can watch and place orders simultaneously. These videos include product demos from a wide variety of brands.
Viewers can experience new products, ask questions, and place orders without leaving the Facebook platform.
Benefits of Live Streaming Commerce:
- Improve customer reach
- Build brand awareness
- Reduce returns
- Improve customer engagement
9. Continued Rise of mCommerce (Mobile Commerce)
By 2025, mCommerce will account for over 10.4% of all retail sales in the US.
Mobile Commerce (also called mCommerce) is a fancy way to describe eCommerce that is focused on mobile users, making it easier for them to buy products from smartphones and tablets.
Many eCommerce businesses are building mobile-first strategies as mobile traffic continues to rise. Mobile peer-to-peer (P2P) payment systems make it easier than ever to conduct business from smartphones, and SMS (text-based) marketing makes it easier to connect with customers to earn repeat business.
SMS marketing tools like LiveRecover make it easy to connect with customers via SMS, providing order information and reducing abandoned carts by reminding customers to come back and place their orders. LiveRecover is available for Shopify stores.
Focusing on mCommerce can:
- Help you reach more customers
- Attract new customers who prefer using their mobile phones
- Encourage repeat business with push notifications and SMS marketing
- Enable location-based personalization
10. Visual Search
A recent survey from eMarketer found that 72% of 18-34 year-olds are interested in using visual search, along with 68% of 35-54 year-olds and 55% of 55-65 year-olds.
Tech savvy internet users have been using reverse-image searches for years on Google, but the technology has taken a step forward—offering an entirely new eCommerce shopping experience.
Thanks to Google’s Multitask Unified Model algorithm (MUM), a shopper can upload an image of something they’d like to buy, and the search engine will present them with a whole host of similar items for sale. MUM will be integrated with Google Lens, making visual product searches seamless.
If you run an eCommerce business that works well with visual search, you’ll want to optimize your images and product descriptions to meet MUM standards. This will help them rank better in a search and enable direct purchase.
Popular eCommerce platforms are beginning to offer visual search capabilities that you can embed on your website and mobile app. For example, Shopify has apps like Visual Search, and Magento offers Product Search Via Image Extension.
Benefits of optimizing Visual Search:
- Customers can easily find your products
- It’s a great way to reach Gen-Z shoppers
- Visual search is likely to grow in popularity as more consumers discover it
Adapting to an Ever-changing Industry
Retail sales is one of the oldest business models in the world, but eCommerce is forever evolving. Understanding the latest trends will help you stay ahead of the competition, integrating those that work best for your brand and business model. Keep an eye on your competitors, observe the new techniques they use to reach customers, and prioritize changes that will deliver the greatest impact on your bottom line.
Need a tech partner to integrate any of these updates? Net Solutions has built and enhanced countless eCommerce websites over the years, serving everything from small businesses to retail giants like Euro Car Parts, 2XU, and Legend Footwear. We’ve updated their eCommerce technology to compete as they expanded internationally and helped them adapt to the latest changes in this dynamic sector.
Contact us today to explore how Net Solutions can help you adapt to the latest eCommerce trends of 2022.
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