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Digital commerce has completely transformed the retail environment. Over the past decade, the general adoption of online shopping has grown tremendously. And, with the threat of COVID-19 and social distancing measures in place, many purchases that were primarily made in person are now being shifted online.
In fact, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of ecommerce by up to six years and has also brought with it new shopping trends that are expected to be mainstays of the new digital economy.
If you’re engaged in retail, ecommerce trends should be among your top concerns. The retail environment has become so competitive that constant shifts in consumer behavior and preferences must be closely monitored. Without the ability to identify and adopt these trends promptly, you’ll quickly fall behind your competitors.
To stay ahead of the game and drive the growth of your retail brand, here are new ecommerce trends to consider in 2022:
1) Omnichannel Ecommerce Trends
As tech-savvy millennials and Gen Z increasingly become retailers’ core audience, the shift in preference to omnichannel businesses has become apparent. Brands present on more than one channel now enjoy better engagement, which ultimately translates to better sales. In fact, companies that run marketing campaigns on at least three channels enjoy purchase rates that are almost three times higher than those that run single-channel campaigns.
While email is still the standard platform for digital marketing communications, adding SMS to your arsenal can increase your conversion rates by almost 50%. Other channels to consider include push notifications and the various properties of Facebook and Google.
However, that it’s not enough to be present on the channels your audiences use. It’s crucial that you’re able to give them seamless experiences that allow them to easily pick up on one channel where they left off at another.
Over 80% of today’s consumers say that personalization at online stores make them more likely to push through with a purchase. Furthermore, 48% tend to spend more money on businesses that offer irresistible personalized experiences. Tailored offers and recommendations are so valued by consumers that their willingness to share personal data is growing just to make that happen.
Information is key to offering relevant brand experiences. Given the trend towards personalization, there’s a great incentive for you to make your businesses data-centric. Focus on gathering as much data as possible as well as segmenting that data in detail. Every experience throughout the customer journey should be based on what you know of their past behavior as well as insights you’ve gathered on what they might need.
3) Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) enhance a company’s ability to intensify personalization efforts as well as provide excellent customer service. These technologies help retailers not only gather more actionable insights on their customers but also predict behaviors and future preferences. Consequently, businesses are better able to provide the level of personalization consumers crave.
Apart from nurturing audiences to become lifelong customers, AI makes it possible for ecommerce companies to streamline their operations. For example, advanced chatbots are now able to generate relevant offers in real-time and also provide timely support to customers. In fact, chatbots help companies save up to 30% of customer support costs by responding sooner and answering up to 80% of routine queries. AI further aids businesses in forecasting demand as well as setting prices and discounts for optimum conversions. Artificial intelligence already has innumerable applications, but ecommerce is actually just scratching the surface.
4) Headless Ecommerce
On the more technical side, there’s an observable shift towards headless ecommerce. Headless ecommerce moves businesses away from monolith platforms and, instead, decouples the back-end from its presentation layer. That way, the same data can be accessed, used, and presented using any front-end platform.
Through a headless architecture, ecommerce businesses are better able to make themselves accessible on non-traditional technologies like wearables and connected appliances. That means an enhanced ability to become a truly omnichannel business. Since you’re no longer hindered by the limits of a single platform, the possibilities are endless in terms of improving efficiency, enhancing personalization, optimizing for conversions, and becoming an overall more agile company.
5) Mobile Shopping
There’s a growing trend towards mobile shopping not just because of increased smartphone penetration but because digital natives are quickly becoming the world’s largest consumers. These younger generations have driven the need for businesses to become more accessible and provide tailored experiences on mobile devices.
In 2019, researchers predicted that up to 72.9% of ecommerce sales will be made on smartphones and other mobile devices by the end of 2021. Shopify, the ecommerce platform on which over a million businesses around the world operate, proves that prediction is accurate. During its latest Black Friday/Cyber Monday event, 69% of sales took place on mobile. Without a proper mobile platform, you could quickly lose the interest of a large portion of your target audience.
BOPIS stands for Buy Online, Pickup in Store. This is one of the most significant online shopping trends brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Although BOPIS has been growing steadily over the past decade, social distancing protocols at brick-and-mortar stores as well as growing safety concerns have propelled consumers to find ways to minimize exposure while still getting the things they need and want in a timely manner.
Although many online shoppers are already comfortable with in-home delivery, 31% of consumers prefer picking up their purchases themselves. Whether that’s a function of privacy, immediacy, lower fees, or convenience, BOPIS is likely going to be a lasting consumer preference. Make sure you have the infrastructure in place to accommodate this process with as little friction as possible.
7) Voice Technologies
As voice-assisted technologies become not just more advanced but also more prevalent, voice search is expected to play an even larger role in ecommerce. Today, 71% of consumers already say they prefer speaking over typing when making queries online. Add to that the growing adoption of technologies like smart speakers and you’re left with the reasonable conclusion that voice shopping is just about to skyrocket.
It’s important to note that the role of voice-assisted technologies in ecommerce is not limited to the act of purchasing. In fact, its greatest value might be during the research stage of the customer journey. In 2019, 51% of US shoppers already said they use voice to research products. Furthermore, 36% use voice to add items to their shopping list, while 30% use the same to track their packages.
8) Augmented Reality
One of the biggest challenges of ecommerce is the shopper’s inability to touch, feel, and perceive items in the context of real life. That leads to an apprehension that retailers must overcome in order to sell their products online. Augmented reality (AR) is quickly showing its potential in this regard.
Whether it’s clothing or furniture, 35% of shoppers say they’re likely to buy more online if they’re able to virtually try the products before checking out. Additionally, 22% say that the availability of AR on ecommerce brands will make them less likely to visit physical locations. As internet retailers adopt AR technologies, they’re better able to reduce the ambiguity of online shopping, aid their customers in visualizing their products, and enhance the shopping experience overall.
9) Going Green
Green consumerism isn’t new, but it’s an online shopping trend that’s steadily growing. In 2018, over 50% of online shoppers had already declared that environmental concerns affect their buying decisions. Furthermore, they’re willing to pay more money for products that they perceive to be more sustainable or environmentally-friendly. While millennials unsurprisingly lead this movement, it is a behavior that’s consistent across all generational cohorts.
To continue to be relevant to today’s consumer, your ecommerce business should strive to develop more sustainable practices. That shouldn’t just be limited to eco-friendly packaging and shipping practices. It should be part of your company’s core values and influence the way you source materials, produce your goods, and the way you do business overall.
Making apps and websites more accessible to the disabled isn’t just an ethical responsibility, but a strategy that makes perfect business sense. At least 15% of the worldwide population has a recognized disability. Whether it’s an auditory, visual, speech, neurological, or cognitive impairment, the inability to make your ecommerce presence accessible automatically alienates at least one billion people.
Through the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, W3C has set technical standards for developers to make the web more accessible to people with disabilities. The push for more accessible web content was strengthened by a 2019 US Supreme Court decision to deny a petition from Domino’s after a lower court decided in favor of the blind man who sued for being unable to order food from the pizza chain. So, improving accessibility doesn’t just widen your market but also help you avoid legal repercussions.
Although new industry data will always help identify general trends, online shopping behaviors could have subtle yet critical differences in every niche or industry.
While industry trends should inform your strategies, It’s always essential to be in tune with your own customers. As long as you strive to put your customers first and delight them at every interaction, adopting online shopping trends will come naturally.
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