A lot has happened to the eCommerce industry in the last two years.
After the COVID 19 outbreak, many online businesses were forced to close their doors for good. The main reason is that the global supply chain was greatly disrupted due to government-imposed restrictions and regulations.
Moreover, some trends developed more rapidly and have forced a lot of changes in the process. Fortunately, things are starting to settle down now and many experts believe that the situation will normalize from here on out.
That said, eCommerce companies are starting to adjust to the new normal and things are looking promising. It’s certain that the eCommerce sector is continuing to be one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the world.
Furthermore, global eCommerce sales are expected to reach $6.38 trillion by 2024 compared to 4.28 trillion in 2020, which is a huge leap in just four years.
It seems that the trends that have developed during the pandemic have not only changed the eCommerce industry as we know it but also accelerated its growth tenfold.
With that in mind, here are a few of the top eCommerce trends for 2022.
1. The rise of social commerce
Social commerce is not a new trend. In fact, businesses could potentially sell their products and open virtual storefronts on Facebook for some time now. Business can take huge benefit from ecommerce growth using Social Media platforms. However, this trend has gained a lot of traction in the last few years.
Today, Facebook and Instagram are not the only players in the game. That said, the TikTok social platform has also launched its pilot version of the shopping feature. Gen Z is the main audience of this platform, so TikTok wants to bring brands and Gen Z shoppers closer together.
The main reason is that Gen Z’s mentality revolves around the “I like it, I buy it” approach that has the potential to revolutionize social commerce. But TikTok is not the only platform that sees the growth potential of social commerce.
Pinterest is also one of the new players that are focused on capitalizing on this new trend. Their Pinterest Partners Initiative allows these social media users to purchase any item they see on this platform.
Pinterest is partnering up with WooCommerce to realize this milestone. It’s safe to say that many brands will flock to social media and bring their products or services closer to their designated audiences for a more seamless experience.
2. Augmented experience
It’s no secret that a lot of people turned to online shopping during the lockdown. However, online stores wanted to provide their customers with a more realistic in-store experience to keep them interested and engaged. This is where augmented reality (AR) comes into play.
AR technology has greatly evolved over the years and is now capable of providing online shoppers with a whole new level of experience. Many eCommerce companies are working hard toward developing AR-powered apps that can help customers try out products without actually visiting a store in person. AR-tech can play a major role to reap the benefits of ecommerce in post-pandemic scenario.
It’s safe to say that the demand for custom web development has never been higher. After all, online stores want websites that will support this technology and allow them to capture the interest of as many online shoppers as possible.
Many AR features are already available to consumers. You can try out shoes, nail polish, makeup, and even clothes with the use of a mobile app. AR technology even went as far as allowing customers to try out furniture in their homes before making a purchase.
IKEA’s AR application allows you to place their product around your home to see how it would all fit in if you’d actually purchased those items. Augmented experience is likely to become a standard in online retail pretty soon.
3. Supply chain optimization
The next eCommerce trend, Global supply chain disruption hit many businesses pretty hard. Some even closed their shops for good because of it. Today, the necessity for proper supply chain optimization is at an all-time high. After all, the COVID 19 virus might be contained, but it’s still on the loose.
Companies simply don’t want to be caught off guard ever again. Therefore, the best way to optimize the supply chain is to turn to artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
AI’s machine learning and deep learning capabilities have the potential to not just optimize supply chains but also help eCommerce businesses optimize their marketing strategies and product placements. Here are a few things AI can help online stores with.
- Logistics optimization
- Inventory and warehouse management in real-time
- Marketing automation
- Dynamic pricing based on ideal conversion rates
- Omnichannel analytics
- Product promotion optimization
By optimizing their own supply chains and logistics, eCommerce companies can adequately prepare and ensure their survival on the market, even if something should happen to global shipping. This ensures little to no downtime until things get back on track.
In a country like India, having a contingency plan is vital for overcoming situations like the one at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. But that’s not all.
Most of the eCommerce businesses are also relying on AI’s speed in optimizing decision-making, reducing cycle times, operational efficiency, and continuous improvement to help them overcome market challenges.
4. Chatbot service
One of the smartest implications of AI technology in the eCommerce industry is chatbots. Chatbots are AI-powered computer programs designed to provide personalized customer service and support.
Due to the fact that the number of online consumers is growing, as well as their demands and expectations, it’s next to impossible to have enough people on staff to cater to everyone.
That and the fact that the online market is more competitive than ever before, online stores cannot afford to lose customers due to ineffective services and overall experience. This is where chatbots can be of great assistance.
Chatbots are able to mimic human behavior, as well as conversations, and utilize their deep learning capabilities to provide seamless service and support to any number of customers. Moreover, they can participate in multiple conversations simultaneously and are available 24/7.
Chatbots are slowly becoming a default service and support system for online stores.
In fact, 4 out of 10 consumers don’t care if they talk to a human or not, as long as their issue is resolved or their question is answered. Furthermore, most online shoppers today are more tech-savvy than the previous generations and they find chatbots to be an innovative and positive addition to their shopping experience.
However, the main reason so many online stores choose chatbots is that this feature can reduce customer support costs by 30%. Any trend with the potential to reduce overhead or operating expenses is worth exploring nowadays.
5. Emerging DTC models
Direct to customer or DTC models are becoming more and more popular these days. There are approximately more than 3 million eCommerce sites around the world. Most of these online stores are small niche businesses aimed at specific audiences with specific products.
These niche stores usually sell their products through giant industry platforms like Walmart or Amazon. Although this is an effective short-term strategy, it’s impossible for these small brands to truly tell their stories or highlight the best features of their products this way.
That’s why more and more of these niche businesses are emerging as eCommerce stores. The DTC model is there to help them establish a meaningful relationship with their target audience.
Creating a website for your niche business and selling your products directly to your customers is a much better way to gain visibility and traction than doing the same through someone else’s platform.
This trend is quickly gaining momentum as more stores discover that this is, in fact, a great opportunity to establish their own brands. As a result, the number of newly-launched eCommerce websites is growing exponentially.
For example, the number of new Shopify stores grew by 62% in the second quarter of 2020. Other eCommerce platforms are experiencing similar growth.
It’s expected that this trend will continue to gain momentum beyond 2022. Moreover, there’s also an increase in brick-and-mortar businesses opening their eCommerce store counterparts. In fact, in the UK alone, 850,000 businesses have launched their online stores in 2020.
The eCommerce industry is very well-developed, indeed. Even though there were significant setbacks during the pandemic, this industry still managed to remain strong.
What’s interesting, in these past two years, many old trends have grown significantly and many more new trends have developed, as well.
With all the changes, it’s difficult for eCommerce businesses to adjust properly. After all, experts suggest that all the changes that took place in such a short amount of time would normally take over a decade to develop on their own in normal circumstances.
Fortunately, the eCommerce industry is doing just fine. With all that’s said and done, the main drive behind all these changes is the shift in consumer behavior and purchasing habits.
It will be more than interesting to see how current trends will continue to develop over the course of the next few years.
Tomas is a digital marketing specialist and a freelance blogger. His work is focusing on new web tech trends and digital voice distribution across different channels.