While a post COVID-19 world is expected to recover slower than we saw after the 2008–2009 global financial crisis, brands and consumers are rushing online, making eCommerce the economic sweet spot. Nearly 150 million people shopped online for the first time during the pandemic, and the number of online shoppers will only continue to rise.
The U.S. eCommerce industry is predicted to hit a staggering $1 trillion by 2022.
A good chunk of this increase is driven by major eCommerce players, such as Amazon, Walmart and Chewy. But there's also the smaller players on eCommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. As the world of eCommerce becomes more crowded and competitive, this means there is a lot to be gained by taking notice of eCommerce trends and getting ahead of the game.
Which eCommerce trends should marketers be paying attention to?
Take a look:
1. Chatbots - an alternative to call centres
No matter the size of your business, customer service can be the difference between winning and losing. That's why one of the big eCommerce trends to look out for in 2022 is the advancement of chatbots. According to Global Market Insights, the overall market size for chatbots worldwide will be over $1.3 billion by 2024. And search growth for "chatbot" is up 233% over the last five years.
Chatbot technology entirely streamlines the way customer service runs. By integrating chatbots into your eCommerce customer service, you can massively improve your customer experience, which helps you win customers and keep them loyal.
How will marketers be using chatbots in 2022?
Collect feedback from surveys
Answer frequently asked questions (FAQ) and provide technical support
Suggest product recommendations, upgrades and cross-sale opportunities
Inform customers about current sale offerings
The best thing about chatbots is that they provide a personalised eCommerce experience, while reducing the costs of traditional customer service. IBM reports that chatbots can cut support costs by 30%.
There's another benefit too - Chatbots mean you can provide 24/7 support, without high call centre costs, which opens your store to customers globally in different timezones.
The rewards are high: eCommerce sites that adopt chatbots have seen revenues increase by upwards of 25%.
The reality is that 4 out of 10 consumers don’t care whether they chat with a human or bot, so long as their problem is resolved, they consider it a positive customer experience.
This sentiment explains why businesses are combining AI-powered chatbots with human live chat, in what's called a "chat first" approach. So the businesses uses a chatbot to answer questions and interact with the customer until traditional human live chat is needed.
Growing demand means there are now a number of chatbots hitting the market: Manychat, AhaChat, and MobileMonkey.
The key is to build a chatbot that works for your target audience. For example, LEGO built a chatbot to help shoppers tackle one big problem: choosing the right gift.
The company did research that revealed 84% of respondents researched gifts online, but more than 25% said that this was just as stressful as going into the shops.
To solve the problem for customers, Ralph the Gift Bot, a Facebook Messenger chatbot, helped to engage fans and aid consumers with gift indecision in the run up to Christmas.
The chatbot chose gift recommendations based on how a user answers questions within the bot. It started out by asking basic questions, like location, age of the person the user is buying for, and gift budget. Then, it let the users choose the theme of product they’d like to buy (e.g. adventure, travel, town planning).
Once the user found a product they like, a link automatically added the product to their shopping cart on LEGO's website, so they can purchase it.
What could be easier?
Ralph’s tone of voice was totally on brand. It was based on LEGO Movie characters to help him stand out from other chatbots.
Using Facebook’s click-to-Messenger ads, LEGO has seen a 6X return on ad spend in some markets. The bot also helped LEGO to drive down their cost per conversion by 31% vs. other conversion-based ads.
Image source: The Drum
2. Mobile shopping is still on the move
When it comes to eCommerce trends, mobile online shopping is here to stay. According to Statista, 52% of worldwide consumers have made a purchase using a mobile device. This trend soared during the pandemic, with Sezzle reporting nearly 80% of shoppers have found themselves shopping more on mobile since the start of Covid.
According to Oberlo, roughly $3 out of every $4 in eCommerce purchases happens on a mobile device.
But it's not just the final transaction that matters.
In our multichannel buying world, the point of purchase is only one part of the mobile shopping experience. Data from Google shows that 60% of consumers start and end their shopping experience on different devices.
Another Google study revealed that in-store searches on mobile devices are up 15%. That means shoppers are using mobile devices throughout the buyer journey: from discovery and research, to comparing products, and ultimately making a final purchase.
In terms of eCommerce trends, the real growth is in that final step of the customer journey: making a purchase.
Shopping on mobile devices is easy to do when people are on the move, especially for last-minute purchases.
The challenge for marketers is that cart abandonment can actually be higher on mobiles than other devices.
There are lots of reasons for this. Sometimes it comes down to the fact that online stores can be clunky on mobiles and people switch to desktop or even go to a competitor.
Another reason is that people can get interrupted or distracted before making the final purchase.
Statistics show that 40% of users will go to the competitor after a bad mobile experience, and an alarming 84% have experienced difficulties when trying to complete a mobile transaction.
This shows the real opportunity for online retailers to increase online sales by creating a frictionless mobile shopping experience.
Make your website mobile and tablet friendly
Use tap friendly features, such as making sure all the buttons, links and calls to action are easy to find and navigate
Use text phone numbers, rather than images, so users can tap-to-call in an instant
Maximise visual content such as infographics and videos over lengthy text
Make your main navigation clear. For example, increase padding around menu items so it’s easy for the user to read and tap on the option
Make contact forms easy - Increase form input fields so it’s easy for the user to fill out the form
Incentivize mobile shoppers
Another way to stop mobile cart abandonment is by offering a discount or incentive to encourage shoppers to complete their purchases online in that moment.
Make it fast and easy for online shoppers to buy from you anywhere
For eCommerce brands considering where to invest in 2022, look at the devices your audience has and then work out how to make it fast and easy to buy from you anywhere.
Do you need new tech investment to reach your customers?
Do you need to spend on advertising and digital marketing tech across multiple devices?
Are you reaching customers but struggling with the operations of order fulfillment?
Start by making sure your customers can do business with you wherever they like, whenever they like. The demand for speed and convenience is increasingly strong, and retailers cannot afford to ignore it if they want a good conversion rate.
Connect your online checkout to POS
Make transactions simpler than ever. Connect your online checkout with a POS system that enables options like local delivery, “ship to customer”, or local pickup.
Shopify research shows that shoppers who choose local pickup are 13% more likely to complete their online purchase and spend 23% more than customers using regular shipping. That's a powerful opportunity for businesses who have a physical store for people to collect from.
Also, local pickup options are faster and cheaper than shipping, not to mention offering a valuable opportunity to bring customers back to bricks and mortar stores to experience your brand in real life.
Image source: Wix
Upgrade your checkout experience
If you can only invest in one thing, make it your checkout.
The checkout is your online store’s most critical moment. Make it fast and easy for customers to complete their purchase and you will increase eCommerce sales.
There are simple tricks to streamline the process for customers. Allow them to save their payment and shipping information by enabling one-tap checkouts and you can drive a 60% faster checkout experience. Plus, customers are more likely to return knowing how fast and easy it will be next time.
You can also eliminate the add-to-cart step by allowing customers to buy directly from product pages, rather than clicking through to the checkout.
Speed up the checkout even more by automating promotions and shipping costs. This means customers don't have to worry about adding codes or filling out more forms.
3. Voice search for online shopping
Voice search is exploding, and online shopping is becoming part of the action.
Think of it this way - if customers want convenience and speed, voice shopping is the answer.
For eCommerce business owners and brands, this opens the door to employing voice search optimization strategies to rank for keywords and phrases that match voice search queries.
If you're not sure where you stand with voice search, do an SEO competitor analysis to check in on your competition and look for opportunities.
There are a few important things to note about voice search:
Voice Search keywords are more conversational
Optimize for long-tail keywords, rather than one-word keywords. It comes down to how we talk to a smart device and ask questions. We generally ask the whole question, rather than saying single words.
The key is to develop content that includes all long-tail keywords that appear in your audience's vocal queries.
Voice Search results are to the point
Voice search results are mostly featured snippets that you get on traditional searches. That's because Google relies on rich snippets to answer voice queries. These direct answers are read back to the user to give instant answers
Be mobile friendly
We've already emphasized the importance of creating a mobile friendly online store, and this is just another reason to add to the list. Most voice searches are made through mobile devices, so it's critical your online store is mobile friendly.
Add social media platforms as sales channels
Another eCommerce trend driven by the pandemic is social media shopping. The pandemic accelerated live-streaming as one of the growing new ways consumers are shopping in real time while watching live videos - some from brands, others from influencers.
Social media usage has shifted massively over the last two years and one of the biggest changes is that people are now actually shopping directly on social media.
Due to COVID-19, global retail eCommerce sites cumulatively saw a record 22 billion monthly visits by July 2020 as people couldn't visit brick and mortar stores. Meanwhile social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Pinterest, started rolling out more and more eCommerce tools to help businesses sell items directly from their social pages and tap into the emerging trends.
What are the new online shopping tools on social media?
Facebook Shops enables business page admins to create a "Shop" featuring a list of products or collections.
Users who visit the brand's Facebook Business Page simply tap or click a "View Shop" button to see products, add items to their online shopping cart, and purchase them directly from a Facebook Checkout page.
Currently, the social platform has 300 million monthly ‘Shops’ visitors, but it's not stopping there!
New ‘Shops’ updates also include options for brands to personalize shopping experiences and the integration of new technologies including augmented reality (AR).
The updates are intended to make it easier for consumers to discover new products and brands, personalising their shopping experience on Facebook. The update draws data around user behaviour to allow brands to serve unique ads (and later, promotions) based on people’s shopping preferences.
This feature also allows consumers to shop directly from a targeted ad.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in his announcement: “The first big announcement for today is [that] we’re bringing Shops to more places. So firstly, we’re bringing [Shops] to WhatsApp, and we’re bringing them to Marketplace on Facebook, which [will] make it easier for people to find [the] products or brands that they want to engage with.”
In the realm of AR, Facebook will enable brands to use AR try-on experiences in Shops.
Social media users can also message brands on Facebook Messenger. Once an eCommerce brand has created a Facebook Shop, they can integrate it with their Messenger, WhatsApp, or Instagram accounts.
The benefit is that brands can then create a smooth customer purchasing experience directly in their messenger threads.
Video is booming and Facebook obviously sees it as key to the future of social commerce. That's why Instagram is building new eCommerce functionality into Reels, its TikTok rival.
Instagram also launched a visual search, allowing users to find similar products by tapping on an image they like.
In the latest update, users will also be able to take photos from their camera to start a visual search.
Image source: Digital Information World
Pinterest Product Pins
Pinterest has offered in-app purchasing for years through its Buyable Pins, and made the move to convert to more scalable Product Pins in 2018.
Product Pins are a type of "rich Pin", enriched with metadata and formatted to let users know that they're shoppable. They show the most up-to-date price, availability, product title and description drawn from the brand's eCommerce site. Your Pin can even read “Best seller” if it’s one of the most purchased items within a Pinterest product category, or “Popular” if it’s one of the most clicked Product Pins within a product category on Pinterest.
Product Pins send users to a brand's eCommerce website checkout page rather than a Pinterest app page to complete their purchase.
The benefits of Product Pins are exceptional for retailers -
On average, Pinterest users spend more money per order than users on any other social media platform. Their average order is an impressive $50.
You can also use advertising and targeting features to drive conversions with your target audience on the app.
Shoppable streaming and shoptainment
Shoptainment is where shopping and entertainment are no longer seen as separate activities, but merge into one immersive experience. In short, it's where livestreaming and shopping collide.
Even before the pandemic, live streaming was already gaining popularity, so adding instant shoppability was a natural next step for forward-thinking brands. In China, it’s already a booming industry with more than 100 million viewers in China watching a live online video event every month, according to Gartner.
The big U.S. brands have noticed this eCommerce trend and they’re jumping on the bandwagon quickly. Nordstrom, Macy and Walmart have already embraced shoppable streaming, with Walmart live-streaming shopping events on Tik Tok.
And as bigger brands, such as eCommerce giant Amazon, get in on the livestreaming action, the adoption of other brands will soar.
Why use live commerce?
Because it accelerates conversion - simple as that.
Live commerce is inherently entertaining and immersive, which keeps viewers watching longer. It quickly propels users through the customer decision journey from awareness to purchase.
You canteen use time-limited tactics such as one-off coupons to generate a stronger sense of urgency.
Another benefit of livestream shopping is that it improves brand appeal and differentiation.
Done well, it can strengthen your positioning among existing customers, growing customer loyalty, while also attracting new ones, especially if your audience is Gen Z.
4. Omnichannel selling goes beyond eCommerce sites
Rewind 15 years and the average consumer typically used just two touchpoints when buying an item, and only 7% regularly used more than four.
In 2021, consumers use an average of almost six touchpoints and nearly 50% regularly using more than four.
So it's no wonder that, according to a recent survey by Aspect Software, businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates than businesses that don't.
The bottom line is this: Shopping habits have changed, and focusing on a single channel for selling your products limits your chances of connecting with more customers.
Sprout Social statistics show that more than 8 out of 10 (84.9%) customers won’t purchase an item until they’ve seen it multiple times.
Where should you focus your attention in 2022?
The latest eCommerce trends show that expanding your reach to social media and major online retail websites like Amazon, eBay and Etsy is the best way for many brands to get directly in front of potential customers.
But every brand is different, so it's important to use your customer data to find out where your target customers are shopping and then refine your strategy to ensure you are getting in front of them on multiple channels.
This means you need to ensure that you track the right metrics in your marketing campaigns. Use your CRM data, social listening data, and online search behavior, such as Google Analytics, to build an in-depth picture of your customers.
Then, use this data to segment your lists and create personalized journeys. As customers interact with you on various channels, keep track of their purchasing and browsing habits, and create a unique fingerprint for each of their purchases.
Then, the next time they interact with your brand, you can give them a more personalized experience - that's how you can really meet customer expectations.
5. AR and VR are changing the way consumers shop
Two of the most hyped eCommerce trends of the year are augmented reality and virtual reality.
What's the difference between AR and VR?
AR augments a world that already exists, while virtual reality — like Facebook’s Oculus Quest — is an immersive experience that lands you in a completely artificial world.
For example, Pokemon Go is one of the most well known applications of augmented reality. Users could play the game while walking down the street - digital characters were overlaid on a real environment that they could see through their phone.
The global AR market is projected to grow from $6.12 billion in 2021 to reach $97.76 billion by 2028. More than 83 million people in the U.S. will use AR on some kind of device at least once per month, which is expected to rise to 95.1 million by 2022.
Around 71% of consumers say they'll shop more often from eCommerce brands that use VR, and 22% would be less likely to visit a brick-and-mortar store if AR was available via their favorite eCommerce store.
And it's estimated that over 120,000 stores will be using AR in 2022 to offer a better shopping experience for customers.
How can you jump on the AR and VR eCommerce trends?
The time has come for brands to explore and experiment with AR and VR technology.
The value of AR for brands and consumers is that it simulates in-person shopping experiences online by allowing customers to see how a product might look on them or in their home.
In fact, one study revealed 35% of U.S. respondents said they had used AR to visualize furniture or vehicle customisations.
With AR, customers can click on a product and instantly see it overlaid wherever they point their mobile device. You can use this to help customers see the size, scale, and detail of your products, which goes a long way to drive conversions.
Look at ways you can turn real-life experiences into virtual experiences.
During the pandemic, intimate apparel brand Knix turned a traditionally physical experience - a fitting room - into a digital experience. Customers can book a 20-minute consultation and are sent a message introducing them to their “Knixpert”, an in-store associate redeployed to help shoppers. Customers learn how to take accurate measurements so they can find the right size and fit.
This gives consumers the confidence to make smart buying decisions.
How can AR and VR improve your customer journey?
AR and VR can fit in at every part of the journey from advertising to providing ways to engage with online catalogs, and from the point of sale to customer service. AR can deliver a much richer buying experience.
Create a buzz around your brand with virtual events. AR can allow customers to browse 3D models of products, rotate them, explore functions and even use virtual fitting rooms. In fact, 35% of people say that they would be shopping online more if they could virtually try on a product before buying it,
Take inspiration from ASOS. No stranger to pushing innovation in the eCommerce space, in 2019 the global online fashion brand launched an experimental AR feature called Virtual Catwalk, which helped mobile users visualise 100 Asos Design products on the app.
When the pandemic hit, the eCommerce store scaled up its ‘See My Fit’ technology, using AR to 'digitally fit’ clothing onto models and enhance the customer experience by showing shoppers how products realistically look in different sizes and on different body types.
This not only helped to drive online sales, but also reduced returns.
The company's digital innovation has no doubt contributed to its success over the past 18 months, with revenues jumping 24% in the six months to the end of February 2021.
This is where people are considering options and comparing products and brands. By letting customers virtually view the product in their own space, you can clinch the sale.
Use AR to let customers experiment, whether with furniture arrangements or outfit choices.
IKEA Place is a great example of this in action as it allowed customers to get creative and style their interiors with furnishings without going into their physical stores.
Building on its success, Ikea’s design lab, Space10, recently revamped the store's AR offering to create a more functional and immersive experience. Using LiDAR sensors in iPhones, the Ikea Studio app lets users capture entire 3D room plans and re-design them - everything from windows and door frames to wall colours and rugs.
According to Wired, Ikea Studio was largely built in preparation for the arrival of Apple Glass, which promises to create a more immersive and realistic AR experience.
Now is the time to provide customers with final reassurance about the quality of products and give them confidence they are making the right choice.
There's another reason AR is extremely valuable in this stage, and it comes down to returns.
Some 34% of the consumers who buy on Amazon return their goods because of the wrong size or color. But AR offers a solution to this problem by letting people check different options and choose items that are more likely to meet their expectations in real life.
6. Even more personalization
It's amazing that with all the emerging trends in the eCommerce market, personalization is still on the list for 2022. After all, it's been a marketing buzzword for years.
But the reality is, in an increasingly busy and competitive online marketplace, eCommerce stores need to up the ante on personalization to drive business growth.
A 2021 report from Twilio Segment shows personalization has never been more necessary for brands looking to last the year, let alone the decade.
Here's the proof:
60% of consumers say they are likely to become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience
Almost half say they are less likely to make a purchase from a brand after an un-personalized experience.
So what do mean when w talk about personalization?
It's about adding familiarity for end users and showing you understand their wants and needs.
The exciting news is that rapid tech advances mean personalization is getting more and more personal.
Your eCommerce platform should offer basic personalisation tools, at the very least, to enable you to tailor your customers’ experiences. If it doesn’t, consider moving platforms.
To take it a step further into the future of eCommerce, use artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is already being used in personalization efforts - even to simply show product recommendations based on previous customer data.
Not only do we expect more brands to leverage AI in 2022 but organizations will also look at how AI and machine learning can be used to give customers even greater control of their shopping experience.
That brings us to another point...
You need accurate data
This means collecting your own data (aka first party data). It's more accurate and customers will trust you more. The Twilio Segment report shows nearly 70% of consumers say they’re OK with personalization as long as brands are using first-party data.
What do you do with this data?
Use it to provide an exceptional customer interaction -like providing a special offer on an item the customer has been looking at.
Added to that, if your customer can then order the product with one click, you've just taken their experience to a whole new level.
What you should do to prepare for the future of eCommerce
That concludes our list of eCommerce trends shaking up the industry right now. It's clear from this list that consumer behavior is changing all the time - the pandemic means people are buying online more than ever before. They are buying from different platforms (including social commerce) and are demanding more from eCommerce businesses - especially in terms of the shopping experience.
We cannot predict all of the top eCommerce trends in 2022, but what we can do is show you the importance of staying ahead of the game. The eCommerce world is shifting, and any eCommerce business - whatever its size- will need to adapt quickly to survive.
Staying informed of emerging trends for 2022 can help you plan out your marketing efforts to convert more customers and increase online sales.
That’s where we come in.
We're here to help you get to grips with the digital marketing trends and work out how to leverage them for eCommerce growth in 2022. Claim your FREE digital audit today and you'll get a free 30-minute strategy call with one of our Growth Gurus, as well as a free audit of your current online marketing AND a 6-month multichannel game plan.