7 eCommerce trends to master in 2022 if you want to dominate online
With Australia home to the 11th largest eCommerce market globally, welcoming 2022’s eCommerce trends into your strategy should be something of a priority. Fear not! Online shopping trends have a longer shelf life than say, the Miu Miu micro-mini, so getting it right is well justified.
However, it’s not that black and white. While global eCommerce sales are expected to reach $6 trillion by 2024, getting in on the action won’t go as planned if you’re implementing trending plugins and pop-ups to simply check a box.
The state of things
Online retail will always be driven by consumer demand and shopping preferences. But, it's 2022, and brands must consider their customers, not as virtual wallets, but (shock, horror) as people. Brands are notoriously targeted for not being ‘woke’ enough by their communities, thanks to the likes of diet Prada, greenwashing accusations, and public awareness of excess stock disposal. Today, being agile and smart means being privy to your audience’s changing values, authentic behaviours, and belief systems.
Where eCommerce is concerned, this largely points to privacy. According to Shopify’s Market Credibility Study, 57% of customers are increasingly concerned with how you’re using their data, and 61% won’t give their data away unless required.
Meanwhile, advancements in fashion technology and the growth of marketplaces means online sellers are popping up like lemonade stands. Being discovered online and retaining customers while keeping acquisition costs down is becoming near impossible. And, though the digitisation of shopping sky-rocketed like Falcon 9 after reemerging from COVID, eCommerce today is hellbent on rehumanising the experience.
Here are the top eCommerce trends for 2022 and beyond to play to your advantage, for you and your customers.
1. Cookies you can count on
So, how exactly do you gather the right data and establish trust with customers for greater loyalty? Let’s start with how you use their data. We talked a lot about personalisation over the last year, but at what point does your VIP sale SMS stop being personal, if it ever was?
Do your customers feel individually serviced by your personalisation or are they feeling a little stalked? According to Shopify, consumers are over three times more likely to abandon brands that over-personalise, compared to those that don’t do enough. Right now, if you’re including too much personal data in your digital comms, your customer is probably getting the ick.
As third-party cookies phase-out, first-party data is where it’s at. As in, acquiring permissible information directly from your customer base that you can really “own”. Even better? Go zero.
Zero-party data is data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. This could be what emails they choose to receive, their purchase intentions, and how an individual wants to be recognised. This is the kind of authentic data you can use to provide customers with truly useful, personal experiences.
2. Content over acquisition costs
There are an estimated 12–24 million eCommerce sites across the globe. More stores are competing for your customer, which means digital advertising now costs you more to do a lot less.
What can you do? Create captivating, relevant content, and use your creativity to explore new ways to attract customers and build on these relationships. And it doesn’t end at the checkout!
You could design a post-purchase experience and use content to personalise it. Create garment care videos, offer styling advice and build communities around those who also purchased that item.
Subscriptions are another rewarding model for fashion brands due to their:
a) ability to be tailored to the unique needs and wants of customers, and
b) ability to cater to customers who highly value convenience.
If you can nail this kind of content, it will open the door to being able to predict recurring revenue, buy accurate quantities, and increase LTV.
3. CRO and headless commerce
SEO is cool, but CRO is cooler.
And when combined with headless commerce, you’ll have yourself a pretty bounce-proof website. Two separate trends perhaps, but to explain them as one might be more prudent.
Firstly, CRO is probably something you do a lot of already, but now you can use a fancy acronym. This is pretty much always a Major Trend, because you could be great at getting new traffic, but what you’re not doing is converting the traffic to match your site visits. The fact is, the more the everyday shopper understands UX technology, the more they’ll expect from your website. For example, the time it takes a product to load.
You could implement many things to convert traffic, but with acquisition costs ramping up, why not reallocate the budget to get the customers coming through anyway - in the bag? Improving the page speed will improve your Core Web Vitals which bumps up your SEO (keeps Google happy).
How do we do this? Headless commerce is a solution that separates the front and back ends of your site so that you can eliminate stuffy page templates, gross backend code, and other elements that are slowing you down. This helps so you can better handle spikes in traffic, increases in sales, or high res images and video - without having to create new pages or other finicky tasks. Headless comm allows you flexibility on the backend, plus added SEO, content marketing, and digital experience capabilities. Off with its head, I say.
4. Be the right amount of social
Sales through social media channels around the world are expected to nearly triple by 2025. Nobody wants to be that person who attends the opening of an envelope, and the same is to be said for your social commerce strategy.
Yes, online retailers should be selling wherever they can on social media (‘cos that’s where most of your customers hang out) but you need to be careful about choosing which social channels you can successfully sell on, especially if you have a wide customer range who don’t all belong to the same communities.
The key to social selling success, whether on Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, WeChat or Snapchat, is that every touchpoint is considered to enrich the overall experience in getting them to the cart. You need to speak that platform’s language, in your brand voice in an authentic, engaging way or you’ll lose them. Make it easy, make it positive, and make sure it’s not all about the sale.
5. Click and Collect (and then some)
Click and Collect (or Buy Online, Pick Up In Store) isn’t new. However, the convenience of this ‘shipping’ method surged 208% during COVID and remains an authentic way to create a unique omnichannel experience. Which is great news for brands, as 85% of C&C customers say they have made an additional unplanned in-store purchase when picking up an order placed online. A guaranteed opportunity to upsell doesn’t come easier.
It also makes sense for high-end pricing, as the beauty of C&C is that it alleviates purchase uncertainty by enabling free and easy returns, then and there. The customer gets refunded on the spot, you keep track of the actual stock on hand without waiting for return deliveries, and you have a real-time opportunity to do the “you may also like” thing.
Consider this: an in-depth study on a national US retailer by the Harvard Business Review found that after one of its competitors launched a C&C service, the retailer’s sales dropped by 4.7% online and 1.8% in-store. Plus, the decline in in-store sales increased the closer a store was to one of the competitor’s C&C locations. This suggests that the competitor was not only stealing the company’s online sales, but also their in-store traffic.
6. Alternative Payment Options
Now we know the Buy Now, Pay Later and Cryptocurrency sectors are experiencing turbulence, but that hasn’t stopped Apple from announcing the ‘Apple Pay Later’ function as an addition to Apple Pay with its iOS 16 update, has it?
So, it’s as important as ever to point out the digital solutions that customers can pick and choose from to make their online purchases. The success of payment trends like Klarna and Afterpay have spawned endless alternatives to rival the likes of digital wallets like PayPal.
More businesses are now choosing to accept Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as payment methods including VISA, which has connected crypto and blockchain networks to their global payment networks. And with the rise of social commerce comes mobile payments, which now account for one-third of digital purchases. This is expected to gain even further traction as alternative digital currency becomes more mainstream.
7. Going global
Lastly, as businesses smash through their domestic growth goals, more and more eCommerce retailers are looking to expand into the international arena. Cross-border trade has become a very real thing for online companies wanting to follow the ranks of Amazon, Alibaba and Etsy.
And this doesn't stop at B2C and DTC. B2B businesses can also leverage the fact that the global B2B eCommerce market is expected to reach $256 trillion by 2028. Keeping up with DTC giants means offering their services internationally, and growing their database in new countries.
While retailers can reduce risk and increase growth by selling into more profitable markets, this move requires you to double down on your company’s vitals - your SEO, your inventory and your finances. And with increased prices and supply constraints, supply chain issues are one major caveat when it comes to going global. What you can do is: stay light on your feet, develop a plan around these issues, and strike when the iron’s hot.
About the Author
Anna is a writer and journalist, with seven years experience in copywriting, digital marketing and eCommerce. Anna has worked with leading Australian fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands over the past seven years, including sass & bide, Sportscraft, and Peppermayo. She now runs her own freelance business, Papercut Copy, and will never not feel weird about writing her bio in the third person.