These are the trends that will dominate the conversation about eCommerce in 2022.
It’s this time of the year when we take a look back at the last twelve months and set business goals for the next twelve. We’re here to help on the way forward with 6 trends that are going to shape the e-commerce industry in 2022.
But before we look at what’s to come, let’s have a quick review on things we could learn from 2021.
It goes without saying that Covid-19 has proven to be a game changer for the owners of online businesses. 43% of buyers are now more open to shopping online. Not only does it mean more potential customers for all the retailers, but also that e-commerce owners should be ready for the increased demand, even fiercer competition, and greater technological advancements to come.
Given the recent supply chain collapse and understocked warehouses, it might be hard to imagine such a quick turnaround, but you can bank on it. Plan ahead and you’ll be able to avoid the largest issue online retailers had to face last year.
Recent statistics suggest that 37% of small businesses in the United States still didn’t have a website by the end of 2021. What is this, 2005? Many would argue that they don’t want to lose the appeal of a physical store, a personalized approach to each customer, and the unique vibe that makes them stand out from the crowd but, sorry, this is unacceptable. What these businesses often fail to understand is that all of those things are already perfectly attainable online.
But that’s not the only change that’s been affecting the industry since the spread of the pandemic. There is also rising eco consciousness of the consumers, fascination with AI-powered technology, increased expectations posed on online vendors, and more that have already had an impact on the e-commerce landscape.
Ok, enough of looking over our shoulders, let’s focus straight ahead and see what e-commerce trends we should be looking forward to next year!
mCommerce continues it rise
It’s not a coincidence that mCommerce (mobile-based shopping) is the first industry trend on this list. According to eMarketer’s forecast, mCommerce sales share is growing and shows no signs of slowing down. People spend more and more time on their smartphones, thus encouraging retailers to further optimize their online stores for mobile devices.
Does this mean a rise in demand for mobile-first e-commerce stores? This is a fascinating possibility that challenges everything we think we know about online shopping. The assumption has always been that the desktop version of a site is the “real” version and mobile is just there as an extra, but what if that paradigm gets reversed?
eCommerce stores optimized for mobile are designed and built for a different kind of user behavior and allow visitors to easily browse, select, and purchase products they are interested in straight from their phones. So the takeaway is simple — having a mobile version of your site isn’t enough, the mobile version has to be good enough to stand on its own and act as the “real” version for a very significant portion of your customers.
Omnichannel selling strategies spread
This one is directly connected to the previous point — not only should your store be mobile-friendly, you should also concentrate your selling efforts in multiple channels. We’re talking about websites, social media, online events, and more! There are lots of reasons as to why omnichannel selling is far more effective than concentrated retail campaigns.
How often have you found yourself in a position where you found a perfect item on your phone, so you saved it to check on it later on from the computer for maximum comfort? We often do this because we have to and we’re used to it but this is changing. Customers expect to be able to close the deal from wherever they are and not have to go on a journey to get what they want. That’s why it’s paramount for your product to be visible and available for purchase straight through your social media accounts as well as your official website.
This is also where we need to mention the importance of having integrated social media platforms. There is a need to ensure that your online presence is coherent and equally convenient for your audience. Different content for different social networks diversifies your product offer and gives you a chance to emphasize different aspects of your brand voice but there always needs to be some consistency across channels. You can’t have a schizophrenic brand personality with one voice in one channel and a completely different one in another.
Chatbots and virtual assistants in more places, doing more things
This point is crucial for any modern e-commerce. After all, it allows you to kill two birds with one stone: while your customers will benefit from instant service and personalized assistance, you will be able to save money on hiring customer success and support teams to deliver the same experience.
Chatbots are among the most promising tech solutions these days because more and more businesses put their fate into the digital hands of AI. A properly deployed chatbot can maintain a life-like conversation with a prospect or client, provide technical support, up- or cross-sell relevant products, gather and analyze invaluable lead information, and process it after the session is over. All this, while you’re able to focus on other aspects of your business.
If you’re not up to speed on innovations in the field of chatbots, you’re in for a shock. Not only do they impress with their performance, but their role in supporting the overall level of automation that modern eCommerces need. You won’t even have to hire a professional to help you with the setup – fully customizable chatbots are now a function supported by most online marketplaces and Facebook.
Voice search for shopping
Here’s one that may not completely fulfill its destiny in 2022 because it might need a few more years, but you can be sure it’s going to take monster strides in the right direction. Voice assistants are no longer a futuristic technology we used to see in the movies – they’re an integral part of the daily routines of more than 30% of online Americans. We use virtual assistants to organize our homes, keep up with our hobbies, and even complete work-related chores. It’s obvious that they will find a place in online shopping as well.
20% of all Google search queries are already voice searches. What does this mean for you and your online store? You need to have it all optimized for voice search! Make sure your business can and will be found by means other than typing a direct request.
But also, don’t forget to take it beyond simple product research and try to provide a complete shopping experience available by voice search. Let customers select items, add them to shopping carts, or set recurring orders without having to reach for their smartphone or a laptop. Be a step ahead and provide a future-oriented customer experience right now!
Augmented and Virtual Reality shopping experiences
Here’s another one from the “used to be in movies about the future, now it’s an everyday reality” list. Using Augmented and Virtual Reality for shopping has been on everyone’s minds for a while now, yet a few businesses have actually dared to implement the technology and managed to do so in an effective way. 2022 is about to change that, as AR and VR are expected to transform the online shopping experience for good and enter the eCommerce mainstream.
Imagine virtual fitting rooms with customized color selection on the spot, recommendations based on your body type and height, and a dedicated personal shopper – all available instantly from your phone. It’s time to make that dream of millions of buyers a reality and join the proud ranks of future-proof eCommerce stores!
Last but not least, there is an easily visible trend in consumer decisions to shift towards more sustainable and socially-aware online retailers. It is no longer enough for businesses to offer a product people might be interested in, they have to be known for supporting the right causes. That’s why, in the following years it will be more important than ever to tie your business to a worthy organization or goal.
Don’t limit yourself thinking about using eco-friendly materials for your product alone. The 21st century has taught us to seek environmental subtext in every little action a business does: from recycled packaging through low-emission delivery all the way to open support of any green cause – nothing you do is too much.
Look for buzz around green and other credentials to be part of the identity of more online businesses in 2022 and to pick up momentum going forward.
What does it all mean for e-commerce?
The winds of change are blowing and the coming year will be full of new and accelerated trends. The future will continue to be all about the best automated, personalized, and meaningful shopping experience simply because online buyers are getting more savvy by the day and wouldn’t settle for anything less.
There was a time when customers struggled to keep up with all the advances in online businesses, but now it seems the reverse is true.
Anyway, best of luck to everyone in 2022 and let’s make it the best year yet!
CRM, Marketing Automation and Voice Commerce for online stores. All in one.