Top 10 eCommerce Trends to Look For in 2022

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December 16, 2021

With each new year comes a new opportunity to examine eCommerce trends with a wiser, analytically driven eye. We can look back to the trends that have come and gone, and we can make informed projections based on what we’ve learned, combined with a bit of intuition, to make sense of the future of eCommerce. In doing so, we can help businesses make the most of their eCommerce platforms to create a great shopping experience that increases sales.

What we saw in 2021 was a market still trying to accommodate the hard pivot that was 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. The massive new segment of people who were shopping online reached more than 150 million. It took understanding this monumental shift to persuade many businesses to make it possible for consumers to shop online in 2021.

That’s why our projections are centered around the next natural step in the process, which is making the eCommerce experience more accessible, easy, and multi-dimensional. We’re certain we’re not alone in our excitement that 2022 is expected to be the first ever trillion-dollar year for eCommerce, so let’s take a look at which 10 trends we think will make that possible.

  1. The Growing Popularity of Subscription and Auto-ordering Models
  2. Mobile eCommerce Is More Important Than Ever
  3. Multichannel Buying Takes the Lead
  4. The Search for Sustainability
  5. Expanding Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) Segments
  6. The Impact of Visual Commerce
  7. Personalization, Curation, and Segmentation
  8. Social Media and Social Proofing as Sales Tactics
  9. Customer-centric Shipping is Crucial
  10. Streamlined B2B eCommerce Solutions Outpace Traditional Paper-Based Ones

1. Subscription and Auto-ordering Models Are Growing in Popularity

As of 2018, 15% of online buyers had signed up for some kind of subscription service, and this is before the massive influx of online buyers into 2021, which is expected to reach 2.14 billion before the year is out.

Subscription models work, and they work on several levels. The brand enjoys the benefit of being able to anticipate product demand, create a more predictable revenue stream, and generally have a firmer grasp on consumer retention. The customer benefits from flexible options to suit their needs and budgets, and typically they benefit from the recurring product’s ability to add value to their lives. The most successful of these businesses are well branded and stand for something that the customer is proud to represent. So, there’s room in the market for more brands to offer subscription-based products, even if it means introducing them alongside their existing non-subscription products. If you’re a retailer looking for help with your online subscription management, there are subscription management solutions available to help you along, especially when it comes to offering a solid customer experience, including flexible payment options, automated credit card order processing, and even built-in discount incentives to encourage subscribing.

2. Smart Devices are Making Mobile More Important Than Ever

The number of smartphone users in 2022 is expected to reach 302 million, a number that climbs every year. Whether or not that number will reach the projected 73% of eCommerce transactions remains to be seen.

What we do know is that consumers find mobile shopping easy and something they can do on the go. It is crucial now more than ever to make sure that the mobile experience offered to the customer is, at the very least, on par with what they’ll expect from a certain mega online retailer app. It’s Amazon. We’re talking about Amazon.

Customers (rightfully) expect an easy-to-use interface, one-click shopping, confirmation notifications, shipping alerts, and so on, all set against a consistently branded backdrop. Fortunately, fully integrated eCommerce platforms create branded, customizable eCommerce sites so they can present a consistent customer experience across web-based or mobile devices.

3. Multichannel Buying & Selling Offers More

Continuing along the vein of making the online shopping process easier for the customer, there are many avenues by which you can sell your product outside of your website. For example, you can, as a brand, take advantage of Google ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, and more to raise awareness of your product or to contribute to the number of encounters your customer has with that product. The rule of thumb is that, the more touch points your customer has with your product, the more likely they are to purchase it. While this is generally agreed upon, the actual number of engagements before a customer buys tends to change, depending on the source.

But multichannel selling also refers to offering flexible payment options to customers, such as the increasingly popular “Buy Online – Pick Up in Store” option or allowing features that, for example, keep items in the consumer’s online shopping cart, regardless of if they change devices. This builds credibility on your website and, once again, helps consumers to experience a consistently branded, intuitive interface.

4. The Search for Sustainability

The idea of sustainability is more than just a trend; it’s an important virtue that resonates especially with more conscious consumers. This typically tends to include the younger consumer who wants to do more than just purchase a product. They want to support a brand that stands for something they believe in. That’s the reason the idea of sustainability seems to constantly be growing, and many brands are taking it seriously—not just to attract this kind of consumer (and their brand loyalty), but to really reduce the brand’s carbon footprint.

If you are a retailer or brand interested in stepping up your sustainability, here are a few tips:

  • Cut down on paperwork (especially with an EDI solution)
  • Consolidate your packaging
  • Choose suppliers who care
  • Optimize your inventory
  • Use analytics to track progress on reaching sustainability KPIs

5. Expanding Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) Segments

A DtC, or “direct-to-consumer” fulfillment model is the process of cutting out the middleman and working with a carrier or 3PL to ship products directly to your consumer. The more traditional model is to sell your product to a retailer or distributor for sale via their stores or drop ship eCommerce sites. Moving to DtC might seem overwhelming at first, but starting small is a great way to ease into this model with the benefits of:

  • Establishing a direct relationship with your customers
  • Building your brand loyalty through a unique customer experience
  • Experimenting with new products and releases, without needing the approval of partners
  • Increasing your profit margins

DtC does come with its own set of challenges, though, especially when it comes to scaling the operation while cooperating with a manufacturer. As the number of orders increases, manually logging and processing each order becomes time and labor-intensive, which leads to setbacks. However, with the right shipping solution, you can automate most of the important steps, such as verifying addresses, streamlining order processing workflows, and setting up alerts to catch errors before they ship.

6. Visual Commerce

Visual commerce is a simple term that summarizes the idea of adding more dimensionality to your products for customers seeing them only on computers or mobile devices.

Retailers have long been accustomed to customers experiencing their products in person. As such, store managers would put effort into setting up their products in a way that entices the buyer and highlights the features of the product. They look at the lighting, the positioning on the shelf, the product in relation to other products, the spacing, etc.

With the sudden shift to online selling, many retailers thought it was sufficient to include a single, simple photograph of their product. More and more, retailers are realizing how important it is to offer a better experience for their customers — they are learning that just as much thought, if not more, needs to go into presenting products online as compared to a brick-and-mortar store.

The best way to do that is to provide not one, but many photos of your product. These photos should help the customer to imagine using or having the product in their lives. Maybe that means including pictures of the product in action, or next to someone’s living room couch. To take this to the next level, you could go as far as adding videos or full 360-degree views of your products, which you can easily manage with the right digital asset management solution.

7. Personalization, Curation, and Segmentation

Breathing fresh air into the shopping process is the personalization or curation of products based on a customer’s preference. Think along the lines of what the brand Stitch Fix is doing with their “Freestyle” offering, which is a service that starts with the customer taking a quiz and working with a stylist to hand-pick a selection of clothing based on the customer’s tastes.

This opens up a unique market segment that is separate from a custom or made-to-order model. In other words, this model doesn’t involve creating a product from scratch to meet the customer’s needs. Instead, the information derived from the customer interaction is used to select pieces from an existing inventory that is shipped directly to the customer who can then choose what they’d like to keep or return, which further provides feedback and insight into the customer’s preferences.

Plus, this exciting approach to shopping creates a customer-centric model that ends up giving more control to the retailer. With these models in place, they can make fluid decisions on what pieces they choose based on availability, as opposed to having a more traditional, more rigid model.

8. Social Media and Social Proofing Offer Brands a Spotlight

It’s no secret that social media and social proof have had a significant impact on the eCommerce shopping experience. Nearly nine out of ten customers (89%) read reviews before buying products. Social media offers a great place for people to interact with a brand while also having the opportunity to purchase from them.

63% of shoppers who use Facebook use it for shopping activities. The key to using these social media sites successfully will hinge on your brand’s ability to resonate with your target audience. It’s as important to cater to the customer as it is to make the shopping experience easy and efficient. How do you achieve this without being overwhelmed? By leveraging a platform that enables easy social media marketing for eCommerce brands, and offers powerful analytics you can use to make informed decisions on your social marketing strategy.

9. Customer-centric Shipping

Free shipping is all the rage, so much so that 79% of consumers have said that free shipping would make them more likely to shop online.

In an ideal world, customers want shipping that is both free and fast. If it can’t be free, their expectation is that it should at least be fast. For the retailers who are not providing their customers with some kind of projected shipping and “arrive by” dates, you should know that 53% of consumers won’t purchase a product if they don’t know when it will arrive. And that 15% of customers aren’t satisfied by the shipping options made available to them when completing their purchase.

2022 is the year to be cognizant about shipping options and decisions made to satisfy customers, especially as supply chain issues begin clearing up. If you need help achieving this, some eCommerce shipping solutions allow you to offer your customer highly flexible shipping options that can be quoted in real-time across a range of delivery services.

10. Streamlined B2B eCommerce Solutions Outpace Traditional Paper-Based Ones

Like everyday consumers, business buyers want the convenience and ease of eCommerce ordering. The B2B eCommerce landscape has shifted significantly in the past decade, as millennials permeated businesses and began making purchasing decisions. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, B2B eCommerce was growing rapidly, more than doubling from 2013 to 2019.

Thanks to innovative B2B eCommerce solutions, businesses can leave behind the days of labor-intensive order processing via paper, phone calls, email, and faxes. Instead, they can log into supplier websites, and be presented with a B2C-like shopping experience. In a few clicks, they can checkout with the items they need, in the quantities they want.

For manufacturers and distributors, the trick is to offer that B2C experience, but with all the functionality needed for B2B transactions. For example, a B2B online store requires more customer segmentation than a consumer-facing store. A B2B store may also need special pricing options by volume, different available shipping choices, and even the ability to generate quotes online. The right platform will offer all of these features, and connect directly to your ERP system for less time spent typing, and more time on strategic initiatives.

Keep Up with These Trends in the New Year with TrueCommerce!

Are you ready for what the new year has to offer and the enormous potential that eCommerce brands will be able to pursue in 2022? Are you looking to learn more about how you can utilize fully integrated solutions to take your shipping and customer experience to the next level with streamlined workflows, optimized order processing, and everything in between? Feel free to reach out to one of our TrueCommerce experts today.

Talk to an eCommerce Specialist

About the Author: Lindsey McGee is a Marketing Content Writer specializing in supply chain strategy, thought leadership, and education. As part of the Marketing team at TrueCommerce, Lindsey strives to provide thoughtful, accessible information to help business owners grow and manage their operations. Lindsey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, Cody, and rescue pets, Delta, Bahn, and Izzie.

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