As the end of the year draws near and we start thinking ahead to 2022, it’s an appropriate time to consider the forces that will shape the world of business in the year ahead.
If you’re a player in the ecommerce industry, you’re no stranger to disruption and the need to adapt to changing market dynamics after two years of unprecedented change ushered in by the pandemic.
In this article, we’ll recap some of the seismic shifts that the world of ecommerce has recently experienced and shine a light on 10 of the most significant trends that will shape this marketplace in the year ahead.
But before we get into the detail, let’s take a moment to understand the long road we’ve traveled to arrive at this juncture.
The Long Road to Here
Ecommerce as we know it started in 1995, but it was actually . Earlier iterations of what was then called “teleshopping” were based on connections between telephones, televisions, and computers—all in all, a cumbersome system that did not find its legs until the internet made it a viable concept.
Predictions at that time were that, eventually, all shopping would be done online, and so, the revolution began. Amazon launched in 1995, followed by PayPal in 1998. Advances in payment card technology, encryption, and other security protocols made it easier for people to trust online channels, opening up a new world of convenience for people who lived in remote locations or could not travel to shop.
Online retailers found new global audiences and embraced the changes, while others favored the traditional in-person business model. Over time, it seemed that younger generations began to prefer ecommerce stores over brick-and-mortar stores. Shopping in physical stores transformed as well, and many retailers struggled to find a balance.
In truth, what’s happening now is not entirely disruptive. Commerce, in general, has been moving in this direction for quite some time now. The only surprise is that it happened so quickly. We’re seeing ecommerce trends happening right now that industry experts had previously predicted would manifest over the next ten years.
According to Statista, online commerce is expected to top $5.4 trillion in 2022, marking a growth of over 500% since 2014.
Why Are These Emerging Trends Important?
There’s no arguing that competition in the ecommerce space is growing. Trend-watching is an essential business practice for any e-tailer with a growth mindset. The past year’s events underscore the fact that if you don’t recognize and keep up with the trends, you’ll lag behind. Knowing and embracing the trends will put you in a position to stay ahead of the curve, grow your business, and dominate the competition.
Top 10 Ecommerce Trends 2022
The most notable change affecting the ecommerce marketplace over the last year is a fundamental shift in consumer buying patterns and behaviors – a direct result of the pandemic. This spawned heightened expectations in terms of what people expect from their online experiences.
So, how will all this play out in 2022?
1. Personalization is King
With so many retailers switching to or augmenting their ecommerce offerings in response to the pandemic, the marketplace is more competitive and crowded than ever. Now, consumers understand that the power to choose with whom they engage and buy from online is firmly in their hands.
Moreover, extended lockdowns resulted in a fundamental shift in the demographics of who shops online. Pre-pandemic, it was primarily tech-savvy millennials and Gen-Zs who frequented online stores. Now, older folks have become more comfortable with this model – which necessitates that ecommerce retailers up their game on the personalization front.
An interesting effect of this is that because so many consumers are used to shopping via this model, more of them are willing to share their personal data.
Forward-thinking ecommerce retailers that analyze the data they have access to and hyper-personalize their products and outreach efforts will be the ones in the winners’ circle in 2022.
2. The Rise and Rise of Chatbots
Let’s face it, people have a limited attention span and limited patience when they’re browsing online. If they have a query, problem, or need more information about a product they’re interested in, as the retailer, you have a golden – yet limited – window of opportunity to answer their questions and secure the sale.
Here’s where the role of chatbots becomes amplified. While these virtual agents aren’t altogether new, technological advances in artificial intelligence have turned them into a powerful CRM tool in recent years.
3. Augmented and Virtual Reality
Just consider these recent statistics:
- 71% of consumers say they’d be more inclined to shop more often with ecommerce brands that use virtual reality.
- In response, over 120,000 stores will be using AR in 2022 to enrich the online shopping experience they offer their ecommerce shoppers.
Augmented and virtual reality solves the most obvious problem associated with online shopping for buyers. How do they know that what they buy will look like it does in the ecommerce store when it arrives at their door? Having a non-static, three-dimensional preview of products gives shoppers a greater level of confidence that they’ll be pleased when they finally get their hands on their goods.
4. Voice is Cool Again
Like chatbots, virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri have been around for years.
But the intersection of voice-enabled virtual assistants and ecommerce is set to explode in the year ahead. The number of voice shoppers is expected to increase by 55%, reaching a value of $40 billion by 2022.
If you’re an ecommerce business owner, it makes sense to look at ways to integrate this channel into your CRM and marketing strategies by leveraging voice-search-optimization strategies to ensure your products and services rank for keywords and phrases suited to voice-search shopper queries.
5. The Green Brigade
According to the Harvard Business Review, 65% of consumers say they want to buy products from brands that demonstrate a genuine commitment to sustainable business practices.
We foresee ecommerce players that showcase their focus on environmentally sound practices dominating their market in the year ahead.
6. Flexible Payment Options
There’s nothing worse than getting to your checkout cart to pay for your online shopping spree only to find that the ecommerce site doesn’t accept your preferred payment method. For retailers, the worst-case outcome of such an event is that the consumer abandons their cart.
To minimize the chances of this happening to you, look to diversify the way people can pay for goods in your store – particularly if you currently only offer check or credit/debit card options.
7. The New Face of Fulfillment
The pandemic resulted in standard methods of delivery and fulfillment being fundamentally upended. This trend shows no sign of slowing; many consumers have come to enjoy the added flexibility of having a range of fulfillment options to choose from.
Today, many stores have secure locations in malls or other public places with lockers that online shoppers can visit at their convenience to collect the items they’ve purchased.
8. Customer Privacy Moves Front and Center
New and beefed-up regulations regarding what retailers are and aren’t allowed to do with their customer data – and with whom they share it – are issues that no ecommerce provider can afford to ignore.
The consequences of falling foul of these compliance rules can be grave and include hefty fines and reputational damage. So, do your homework and make sure you remain compliant with the regulations that affect your country and industry.
9. The Rebound of the “Mom-and-Pop Shop”
Perhaps as a result of consumers’ desire to support those smaller businesses that managed to survive the pandemic or simply a desire to shop closer to home, smaller, direct-to-consumer businesses can look forward to a great 2022.
These players sell goods ranging from ready meals to hand-crafted goods or fresh produce. Many deliver to their customers’ doorsteps, which engenders further brand affinity and loyalty.
10. Prioritization of Data Backup and Recovery
Data is one of the most valuable commodities an ecommerce store produces. It would be impossible to compete without these insights; the brand would not predict future needs or project trends.
Your online store could go down for any number of reasons. Accidental deletion by an employee, a power outage, malicious attack, or loss of premises due to a fire or flood could quickly destroy on-premise servers and computers. As such, it’s critical to have a proactive cloud backup strategy to ensure your data and all digital assets are preserved.
With all systems and products digitized and online, any disruption or downtime would represent a significant loss for any business, but for an ecommerce store, all the more. Loss of business continuity will cost you sales, but it can also cost you customers who will gladly take their business elsewhere if they feel your site is unreliable or untrustworthy.
The Future of Ecommerce
The world of ecommerce is undergoing a number of notable shifts caused by the convergence of several technological, economic, and societal forces.
If you’re an ecommerce retailer with your sights set on a profitable 2022, we trust you’ve found our list of top 10 trends insightful and useful.
Which Trends Matter Most to You?
Just like big hair and shoulder pads, not all ecommerce trends make sense for all ecommerce businesses. Some trends, like artificial intelligence and augmented reality, might be too costly to implement unless you’re operating at an enterprise level. By the same token, if you like the idea of influencers, you don’t have to hire Kim Kardashian to make a splash.
When you’re deciding which trends to put your energy and resources into, listen to your customers. Look at what your competitors are doing and stay on top of the latest research. In 2022, this is more important than ever, because as we’ve seen over the past year, anything can happen. Today’s statistics could be yesterday’s news by tomorrow.
Backing Up Your Data with Rewind
Rewind is Peace of Mind
Rewind offers the ultimate peace of mind for ecommerce businesses. We provide continuous cloud backups of all ecommerce systems and related data, including third-party apps and dependencies. Should disaster strike for any reason, restoration is fast and straightforward, minimizing outages and ensuring you get back up and running fast.
Rewind runs in the background and does not impact your site’s performance. You might think of it as an insurance policy—you hope you won’t need it, but you can sleep easy at night knowing that it’s there to protect you no matter what.
In these unpredictable and unprecedented times, we all need a little extra insurance. As the leading provider of BaaS apps, Rewind is designed with ecommerce stores in mind. It’s simple to install and deploy, and restoring the entire online store is as simple as restoring a single image. When your assets are protected, you’ll be able to focus on the trends that really matter—like optimizing the customer journey and planning for future growth.