By Andrew Armitage, Founder, A Digital
During the pandemic, e-commerce and other websites came into their own as consumers relied on them for shopping, work and entertainment needs. E-commerce grew at two to five times the rate before Covid-19 in 2020, and research shows the online boom is here to stay. Last quarter, it was revealed that 70% of Britons now prefer shopping online, up from less than half pre-pandemic. As such, worldwide e-commerce sales are forecast to reach almost $5 trillion by the end of this year and are projected to grow to $6.54 trillion or higher in 2022.
With such a marked change in consumer behaviour and the way people shop, 2022 will be a defining year for the retail sector. It has never been more important to know and understand the key e-commerce trends, leverage them to meet customers’ needs, and deliver an online experience that genuinely engages customers, drives sales, and builds loyalty.
Web3 will drive cryptocurrency adoption
Web3 represents the next iteration of the evolution of the Web and could potentially be as disruptive and represent as significant a paradigm shift as Web 2.0. In addition to decentralisation and being based upon open-source software, Web3 will run on blockchain, the technology behind many major cryptocurrencies.
As a result, Web 3 will see the growth of cryptocurrencies being accepted by initially more digital platforms but also more widely accepted when shopping online. Products purchased over the blockchain are cryptographically unique and secure, increasing trust between merchants and their customers.
However, it’s worth noting that blockchain and cryptocurrencies are widely known for their high resource use and potential environmental impact. Due to this, initially, a small number of companies will take this cutting-edge technology forward. It won’t become mainstream in 2022, but we will see companies beginning to experiment, focusing on understanding and how it can work in practice. With reports that Web3 transactions will be commonplace in e-commerce storefronts in less than five years, companies must be aware of this space next year and beyond.
Social shopping is the next big thing for mobile commerce
According to 99firms, mobile shopping will take almost 73% of the e-commerce market share by 2022, as new generations of buyers are more and more likely to purchase products with their smartphones. This will further evolve to include Social commerce, in which buying and selling products or services happen directly within social media platforms.
Social media platforms have for some time acted as a brand discovery engine. Approximately 55% of consumers discover new products on social media at least once a month. Research shows that they’re currently mainly purchasing through online channels rather than directly through social media channels. Still, with social platforms evolving to house more shopping features, this is set to change.
TikTok’s Shopping feature, in partnership with Shopify, lets users directly purchase items within the app, taking users to the shopping URL without having to leave the app to access the site. Additionally, Instagram launched its Shopping tab in 2020 as a way for its users to explore new products, and Facebook pushes retailers to use its built-in storefront and has simplified the process for uploading products.
Social media shopfronts provide a great alternative for brands looking to connect with customers, immediately allowing your followers to browse, save, share and purchase with ease. Social commerce removes the potential for confusion, and cart abandonment and bounce. Simply put, fewer actions are needed to complete a purchase — a key success factor for any e-commerce store, making it a big growth opportunity for 2022.
Brands will need to be ever conscious about their eco-footprint
Consumers care more about the environment and are taking an increasing interest in the footprint that their favourite brands create. Conversations about ethical shopping are on the rise, especially among younger consumers, and there is a general migration towards brands who build environmentalism into their ethos. According to a recent survey, 69% say it is important or very important that retailers have good environmental credentials – and 49% will even pay more if a brand is environmentally friendly.
Brands and retailers have an opportunity to embody and endorse sustainability in their production, packaging and messaging, as well as in their delivery methods. For example, for 42% of consumers, sustainable packaging was the factor most likely to compel online shoppers to purchase from a brand again in the future. In other words, environmental awareness will be a definite draw for customers going into 2022.
“Greenwashing” – or overstating a commitment to eco-friendly values – is a problem. We’ll continue to see growth in companies going down the B-corp route, but unless they can truly show their eco credentials, they’ll be called out, and people will vote with their wallets.
D2C models gain post-pandemic popularity
Brands are increasingly moving towards a DTC model, as opposed to selling their branded products through retailers. As digital becomes the norm, it’s easier than ever for brands to engage in DTC strategies, using their own digital channels to reach consumers directly.
By incorporating a DTC approach, businesses can better differentiate themselves and their products by having complete control over the brand experience. DTC allows brands to build a better, more direct relationship with their customers, which results in building loyalty. In addition, without the retailer acting as a go-between, the brand is better placed to understand their customers and segment them appropriately, collecting data in order to better market to them. With 88% of customers also preferring to buy directly from brands if given the option, DTC will continue to gather pace and influence across the marketplace in 2022.
E-commerce shows no signs of slowing down. The pandemic has changed the face of E-commerce for good, and some exciting trends are set to change the landscape again in 2022. It’s essential for e-commerce stores to keep up if they want to see continued growth, as early adopters will reap the rewards of the latest trends and gain ground on their competitors in what is an increasingly competitive landscape.