The Future of eCommerce: 7 Trends for 2022
Since the online shopping boom of 2020, eCommerce has continued to experience unprecedented growth. Online sales around the world grew by 27.6% in 2020; and with further growth in 2021, the future of eCommerce looks bright. However, with so many retailers now focusing their efforts on online channels, it’s also more competitive than ever before.
Here are the 7 key trends you need to know about to stay ahead of the curve in 2022:
1. Live video commerce will explode
Livestream shopping began in China around around 2015 and has grown in popularity ever since. In 2019, 265 million Chinese shoppers bought something through a live eCommerce stream. But, when the pandemic took hold last year, the medium truly began to thrive.
In July of 2020, live video commerce generated $450 million in Chinese sales in just one day. Now media platforms worldwide have added live, interactive streams to their shoppable video features. In 2019, Amazon Live was introduced to help members of the Amazon brand registry engage with shoppers, while Walmart recently partnered with TikTok to offer products via livestream.
Instagram also offers in-app shopping across content, including Instagram Live, and Facebook has launched Live Shopping too. So if you’re wondering where to begin with shoppable video in 2022, there’s plenty of options available.
2. Increased adoption of the online-to-offline model
The online-to-offline, or O2O, model encourages online consumers to visit brick-and-mortar stores to collect or purchase products.
Since the start of the pandemic, more retailers have embraced click-and-collect than ever before. But some businesses didn’t have enough inventory oversight to implement the service. While others have set up inefficient and lengthy processes which see click-and-collect orders prepared at warehouses and shipped to local stores – even when there’s plenty of stock already on the shelves at that location.
Last year we saw retailers around the world implement the tools they need to view real-time SKU-level inventory by location. This allowed them to offer customers the best click-and-collect service possible. In the short-term, it focused on facilitating customer safety. But we envisage the popularity of the O2O model will endure into 2022 and play a key role in the future of eCommerce.
Pre-pandemic data suggests that demand for click-and-collect was already strong. 53% of consumers start their shopping journeys online before making an in-store purchase, while 70% have picked up an item to avoid shipping fees.
With almost a third of shoppers saying they’ve backed out of online purchases because two-day shipping wasn’t free, click-and-collect is a great way to reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase footfall in stores where there are more opportunities for conversion.
3. ‘Fulfilment is the new black’
In 2022, fulfilment will take centre stage as the disruptions of 2021 are expected to continue. We expect to see more supply chain diversification and warehouse automation in an attempt to off-set some of these issues. There will also be more micro fulfilment centres and dark stores as retailers strive to offer lightning-fast delivery.
We anticipate that some brand-focused businesses will create unique and personalised unboxing experiences for their customers too.
In the coming years, fulfilment will also be a key area for finding cost savings as retailers assess the reams of data at their disposal to identify cost drivers.
4. Brand building is on the rise
As brands recover from the early impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of them are rushing to invest in brand building.
Throughout 2020, companies cut their investments in branding as they pivoted their product offerings and adjusted their marketing campaigns. Almost half of marketers cut their overall marketing spend in the latter half of the year. But in 2021, they began to start reminding audiences about their brand – and this is expected to continue into 2022.
Even companies in struggling industries, like travel, are beginning to invest in brand promotion. For many, it’s all they can do in the short-term. But even if demand remains low, brands need to stay at the forefront of their target audience’s mind. This important so that they’re in a favourable position when spending picks up once again.
With so many sales taking place on marketplaces, brand building is a strategic way to get audiences searching for your products wherever they shop. Solutions, such as a ‘Where to buy’ button are a great way to elevate brand building as they enable shoppers to buy products through their preferred channels.
5. eCommerce tech is the future
Over the past decade, VC firms have been investing heavily in scalable eCommerce platforms and tools. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, they invested $3.2 billion, $2.6 billion and $1.6 billion respectively.
Now, because of the acceleration of eCommerce that’s taken place during the pandemic, they are keen to see products deployed before growth slows. So expect to see more advanced tools and features become available in the next year or two.
On the part of those using eCommerce tech, research suggests that retailers are primarily investing in customer-facing technology. Think tools for customer service, customer analytics, marketing, sales and supply chain management. Brands who manufacture goods will be more focused on sales and marketing systems.
Businesses will also be consolidating and carefully curating their eCommerce stack to ensure the solutions they use can have maximum impact.
6. A return to SEO and retention marketing
Brands are coming to realise that paid advertising can be fickle and fleeting. As a result, many of them are refocusing their efforts on organic search.
With around 27% of shoppers taking advantage of ad blockers, this move makes sense. While PPC ads aren’t going anywhere, fewer people will be able to see them so brands looking to the future of eCommerce are already working on their organic rankings.
Setting their sights beyond the traditional top ten spots, brands of every size are investing in short-form content, like FAQs. This will help their websites appear in both featured snippets and voice search results. These are both now used by 27% of internet users.
As we’ve mentioned, customer-facing tools will be big this year too. After benefiting from a surge in online shoppers last year, many eCommerce brands want to nurture these new converts in order to drive recurring revenue.
7. Finding the balance with DTC
While direct-to-consumer channels still hold massive potential in the future of eCommerce, the reality is that just ten mega-sites attract nearly 60% of all eCommerce sales. Amazon alone captures 39% of sales – and it relies on third-party sellers for more than half of these. Want to build an optimised strategy for Amazon? Learn more here.
So for now, brands need to knuckle down and figure out how to work with resellers to scale their business – even if they’re working on a DTC strategy at the same time.
By all accounts, eCommerce is expected to grow substantially in 2022. But with so many retailers taking part in the digital transformation, the eCommerce landscape has never been more competitive. By staying on top of the latest trends, retailers can be sure to stay ahead of the competition.