24th December 2021 - 5 minutes

8 Key Ecommerce Trends for 2022: A Complete Guide for SMEs

The ecommerce industry is constantly evolving – with every new year new trends emerge to help ecommerce businesses increase online sales, improve user experience, and drive more revenue – 2022 will be no different. 

As we know, the last few years of ecommerce have been heavily influenced by the global pandemic and Brexit. Digital evolution has been sped up over five years and factors such as supply issues, haulage costs and deliveries have been affected, meaning businesses worldwide have had to quickly adapt new ecommerce trends to survive and accommodate to their customers needs. 

As we enter the new year, we can expect online shoppers behaviour to once again begin to shift and expectations to continue to rise. Predictions show that there will be an overall growth of 16.3% on last year’s global retail sales in the coming year. 

Here’s 8 emerging commerce trends for SMEs to consider in 2022 for their most prosperous year yet.

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Omnichannel approach 

We are living in the age of ‘anytime, anywhere’. One of the main challenges that online stores face is being able to meet the needs of their customers wherever they are and whenever they want it. 

The ‘omnichannel approach’ can be best described as an approach that integrates seamless user experiences regardless of the purchasing channel. For instance, businesses can create content and sell via an online store and a physical store. They can also integrate this content into other channels, such as apps, social media, printed documentation, podcasts, etc. to reach different audiences. 

Integrating and optimising multiple shopping channels allows ecommerce sites to meet the customers’ demand both offline and online – whenever they are, increasing the opportunity for ecommerce sales. 

Shopify states, “to capitalise on the ecommerce boom and overcome fierce competition, you need to optimise commerce across channels like online marketplaces, social media, retail, and wholesale.”

They continue, “That also means building—or buying—a technological foundation that frees your team to create immersive, unified experiences wherever your customers are. The business benefit is resilience, allowing your business to quickly shift efforts and resources from offline to online, and back again, based on customer demand.”

Mobile commerce 

The rise of mobile commerce. Technology has evolved to allow online consumers to do practically anything on a mobile device, including online shopping. I know from my own experience that most of the shopping I do nowadays is via my mobile device. They are extremely accessible, and with online stores releasing applications left right and centre, a faster way to shop. 

Mobile commerce is forecast to account for nearly 6% of all retail sales in 2021, and according to recent studies, mobile shopping’s share of ecommerce sales increased from 70.4% in 2020 to 72.9% in 2021.  

This 3.5% increase cannot be ignored. Businesses need to prioritise optimising their online store to be fully responsive for mobile. This is essential to ensure that there isn’t an opportunity for a missed sale.

Enhancing user experience is not a new trend, however it is definitely something that should be top of all businesses’ New Year’s resolution list as they face the biggest pool of online competition yet.

Social commerce 

Social media has become an important tool for everyday life and businesses – not only can businesses utilise social media to market products, but modern advances now allow third party retailers to directly sell to consumers too. And as you can expect the social media platform audience size is in the billions, so there’s a huge opportunity for businesses to stretch their reach and obtain more custom. 

According to research, social media activities influencing ecommerce retail behaviour include; comments on campaigns (45%), paid advertisements (44%), and positive customer reviews (27%). 

IMRG recently stated: “Social media has ultimately become central to our lives and our reliance on mobile devices fuels the addiction. Over 90% of social media users access their favourite platforms using a mobile device and 54% use social media to research products.”

The social media commerce trend was born with the addition of the ‘buy’ button to Facebook and Instagram Checkout. Since then social media platforms, such as; Pinterest, have followed suit by evolving to facilitate social commerce, so their users can buy products without leaving the app.

The pandemic birthed a new social media platform – TikTok. The 2016 Chinese video sharing platform has recently become a global hit with the younger generation and ecommerce business owners. It is the most downloaded app in Apple’s App Store, encouraging users to spend £37 million every year. 

A big attraction to TikTok is the ability to consume content through short bursts of videos. From this emarketers have seized the opportunity to encourage consumers to buy more through influencer marketing. Targeting their audiences through people that they already admire and respect, builds brand awareness and trust. 

And a big trend of 2021, which will no doubt follow through into 2022, is ecommerce marketing taking advantage of influencer marketing through methods such as live streaming and video commerce. 

IMRG goes on to say: “Live shopping is one mobile commerce trend we’re expecting to see an increase in 2022 as platforms like Instagram and Facebook have their own live streaming features. To cater to both the shopper and the retailer, each platform allows brands to link directly to the products they’re talking about.”

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Fast, alternative, and flexible payment methods and delivery options 

We are living in a ‘want -it-now’ culture. People want things yesterday – and we can thank the ecommerce gods, amazon, for this. They offer a fast checkout, which combined with amazon prime, means that the products can be with you the very next day. Who doesn’t love the convenience and accessibility of it all? 

This is what today’s consumers are looking for. Although a one day turn around is not achievable for all businesses, free delivery thresholds and flexible pickup options are. 

A recent study states that 60% of online consumers abandon their shopping carts due to delivery costs. That’s over half of your visitors – imagine how much more online revenue your store could drive if you converted that 60%. 

Moreover, 37% abandon their shopping carts when an account needs to be created, as it is time consuming and they want a fast conversion. 18% abandon their carts if there’s a slow delivery time. 

Offering a service that challenges amazon’s, by offering free delivery, alternative methods for collection or pick-up, and fast delivery – where possible – is the way to be successful in 2022. 

In addition, the same study revealed that online consumers are more likely to convert when alternative payment options are available. Apple Pay and PayPal are popular payment methods that eliminate the need for entering in card details.

Ecommerce brands are now using ‘buy now, pay later’ methods too. This newer form of payment allows customers to purchase the products and then pay for them within installments or at a later date. Popular brands include Afterpay, Zippay, ClearPay, and Klarna. Many consumers prefer this type of payment as it allows for flexibility on more expensive items and instills trust into the brand. 

Augmented reality 

 Augmented reality (AR) is a modern piece of technology that mirrors a real-life shopping experience. AR allows customers to view a product by overlaying it on themselves or in their homes.

It bridges the gap between an online experience and an in-store experience, by offering customers a better idea of size, shape, and detail of products’ appearance. Many furniture brands, such as IKEA, have been early adopters of this ecommerce trend and are reaping the benefits. 

Jordan Knapp, Shopify head of new markets, says “augmented reality for larger items, especially home goods, becomes increasingly more relevant in the future.” Jordan continues to say, “retailers need to get creative to reduce returns because returns can destroy a business.”

AR, although packed with the wow-factor, can be pricey. Many brands are now looking for alternatives to be able to compete. 3D modeling or 3D images of their products also give the ability to show size, shape and detail – allowing customers to see a 360-degree view of the product. 

Conversational commerce 

Conversational commerce is a great way to incorporate digital ‘human interaction’. It improves customer experience by allowing customers and brands to communicate, building a stronger relationship and, therefore, optimising customer loyalty. 

Many brands are already using this method through social media platforms, such as; Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn and Whatsapp. 

Installing software that allows you to include live chat and chatbots on your will allow your customers to communicate directly to an employee or receive automated responses. 

Live chats and chatbots are great for recommending products, connecting with customers and monitoring past customer interactions. They allow you to answer any questions that your visitors may have, and could be the difference between a visitor bouncing or converting. 

To advance on this, voice shopping is a new form of communication within ecommerce. The Digital Marketing Community describes voice commerce as “a non-visual shopping experience”, where customers have the ability to select their desired product by providing a verbal description and/or instruction of the service or product they desire.

Everyone has heard of Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, right? Well, voice shopping is on the rise. Although this technology is still in its early stages of development, many consumers (88%) are loving the idea of using voice search and voice assistants as a form of shopping. 

The Digital Marketing Community continues by saying: “Customers usually use it as a sales channel, meaning they use it when they’ve already decided what to purchase. Items purchased via voice search are usually low-cost products such as food, home-wares, and electronic devices.” 

Research suggests that by 2030, voice commerce will account for 30% of overall ecommerce sales. The number of voice shoppers has been predicted to increase by 55% in 2022. So in the new year we can expect to see a lot more of this new way of shopping.  

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Sustainability 

Ecommerce brands need to consider adapting their values to reflect those of their ideal customers. 

People are becoming more aware of global warming and are wanting to make a conscious effort to do their part. The big focus on green consumerism is an indicator that ecommerce businesses that prioritise environment-friendly practices will dominate the market in 2022. 

Whether or not a brand is making an effort to be environmentally-friendly is proven to influence online sales. 53% of global consumers prefer to buy products that are sustainable. Ecommerce brands that decide to ride the green consumerism wave will reap the benefits. 

Businesses can do this by making sure that a greener online selling environment is created by using disposable packaging, sourcing products from fair-trade organisations, supporting eco-friendly charities, and opting sustainable distribution options. 

Ecommerce personalisation 

Today’s online consumer expectations are unlikely to lower in 2022. 

Ecommerce personalisation is a solution used to improve businesses customer experience. It allows ecommerce businesses to connect with their visitors on a deeper level, by providing them with relevant content tailored to their individual interests, needs and preferences.

You will more than likely experience personalisation when you are browsing a store, through product recommendations on the homepage, product pages, and basket page. You might also see personalisation in the form of a dynamic banner, an email campaign, etc. 

Shopify says, “what’s clear is that consumers are increasingly rewarding organisations that humanise the buying journey. In response, brands are prioritising personalised experiences that can’t be found on marketplaces.”

They continue, “from dynamic website content powered by real-time behavioural analytics to helping people customise their purchase journey, offering personalised experiences with a human touch is the antidote to marketplaces.”

Great ecommerce personalisation solutions are powered by artificial intelligence, meaning that they use machine learning to accurately predict and produce content that is more likely to convert potential customers. Automation of content means that marketers have one less thing to worry about. The customer information is then stored within the analytics part of the software to help further optimise campaigns. 

Our early 2021 market research revealed that many online businesses understand the importance of implementing personalisation within their ecommerce strategy: 

“Personalisation is at the top of our priority list. In an already overcrowded market we need to focus on engaging better with our customers. The way to do this is through understanding individual customer behaviour and then acting on that data.”

– anonymous, PureClarity market research candidate, May 2021 

With the aid of award-winning software, like PureClarity, ecommerce personalisation can be made simple, affordable and flexible to businesses needs.

Conclusion 

The new year is looming. The main thing that businesses need to prioritise is customer experience. The 8 ecommerce trends that we have discussed above should be considered in order to achieve this. 

This next year is the year of opportunities – let PureClarity help you shine in 2022. 

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