Online retail increased significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, growing 17.9% in 2021 per eMarketer’s 2021 forecast. This growth is expected to continue, possibly reaching 23.6% of total retail sales by 2025 (vs. 11% in 2019). As brands look to the future of eCommerce, CQL expects these Top-5 Commerce Trends of 2022 will define the commerce space in the year ahead.
1. Platform Evaluations and Re-Platforms
According to Digital Commerce 360’s October 2021 Distributor Report, over 40% of distributors intend to replatform in 2022. But with so many platform options available, including headless or some hybrid variation, how do you know if you’re on the right platform or if another platform is a better fit for your brand?
CQL worked with several clients in 2021 in a Platform Evaluation Process, including total cost of ownership evaluation, conversion rate analysis & revenue impact projections, feature requirements & platform considerations, and organizational fit (team size, expertise, roadmap, and culture). Many brands are seeing that their growth strategy and roadmap cannot be accomplished with the current platform without significant investment or further adding to the technical complexity of the commerce ecosystem.
In 2022, brands will consider re-platforming for a variety of reasons:
- To enter into the DTC (Direct to Consumer) market
- Mobile optimization
- Reducing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), as the current ecosystem is too expensive, too reliant on development, or cannot be efficiently scaled
- Enhancing Voice Search technology (Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod), equipping a site’s shopping experience with voice to provide product details, add items to cart, and checkout
- Optimizing the website with new features and integrations to deliver a seamless customer experience
According to a Hubspot survey, 82% of marketers are losing hours a week due to managing different technologies and 75% of marketers spend up to an hour a day analyzing data and connecting reports from different marketing tools. That’s almost a full day of just having marketing staff manage technology.
Brands are seeking to shift their focus from expensive, complex technical solutions, to marketing initiatives that drive revenue and build customer loyalty.
2. Customer-First Experiences
2021 introduced a huge change to the eCommerce industry with Apple’s change to data privacy and Google Chrome’s end of third-party cookie support. To adapt to these changes, brands need to collect data directly from customers (zero-party data).
This year, we expect to see more customer data collection, both in stores and on line, through tools such as SMS marketing (now being offered by many email providers), loyalty and membership programs, chat-bots, surveys and quizzes, and social marketing. Since this content is highly personalized, these marketing techniques will not only get around privacy changes but also has the potential to ensure more one-to-one personalization of marketing messages while improving the customer experience across all channels.
3. Visual Commerce
Expect to “see” big changes in visual commerce in 2022. This trend allows customer to visualize a purchase. Virtual commerce trends include:
- Social commerce (in-app shopping) – brands can sell direct on social media, where customers can purchase products on apps like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok without leaving the app. Brands will leverage influencers, video marketing, and live streaming to engage with customers real time to sell products.
- Augmented Reality (AR) – the virtual reality “try-on” room is personalizing the user experience and allows brands to capture user preferences. With AR, shoppers engage with products by trying on clothes or glasses, adding furniture or decor to a room, applying makeup products to best match your skin, or designing a custom boat and seeing it on the lake.
- Shoppable Video & Live Shopping – According to InfluencerMarketingHub.com, video is expected to make up more than 80% of all internet traffic in 2022. The goal is converting this engaged traffic into customers. With Amazon Live, Instagram, Brightcove, ShopLoop, Livescale and more, shoppers can watch various products and simply click the video to buy it online.
Brands can now easily convert shoppers to purchasers without needing to leave apps or use multiple screens. By leveraging other product data, such as reviews and user-generated content (UGC), brands can further enhance the visual commerce experience and boost conversions.
4. Omnichannel Experience
The “omnichannel” buzzword has been around for years, but as retailers enter 2022 and attempt to streamline tech stacks and prepare for growth, it’s becoming critical to ensure brands create a seamless experience for desktop, mobile, curbside pickup, or physical store shopping – from browsing, to checkout, to fulfillment and returns.
Customers are shopping in a variety of ways and they want the shopping experience to mirror itself despite the channel. Buyers want you to remember their order history, encourage them to reorder, and make personalized recommendations. They look for customer service availability in stores, via email, phone, live chat, and SMS.
Brands that focus on this trend in 2022 will be best prepared so that marketing, subscription & loyalty programs, and customer service extends through all channels and provides a unified experience regardless of when or where customers shop.
5. Website & Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion rate optimization will continue to trend in 2022, as brands look for ways to increase subscriptions, memberships, and purchases. In addition to website testing, we expect to see:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be leveraged and optimized to personalize products and marketing for shoppers
- Chat-bots will be used to guide shoppers to the right products or connect them to the right post-purchase support
- Payment options will be expanded in checkout, providing payment methods that don’t involved credit data
- Voice search will be optimized, just like we optimize search engines
- Product search and merchandising will be centralized through robust PIM (product information management) systems, so product data and user generated content can be easily distributed to marketplaces, social commerce, SMS and email providers, and more.
After reviewing our top-5 trends, you’ll notice one point of irony: trends #2 – 5 could all lead to trend #1, our top trend for 2022. The year ahead promises big changes, and the brands that invest in these eCommerce trends – and the right platform to build on – will be best positioned for growth in the months ahead.
Cheers to a great New Year!