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E-Commerce Trends to Watch in 2022

19.May.2022 vigneshwaran r - eCommerce

Add to cart, pay, and buy: the e-commerce experience is simple in theory. Yet, ensuring users follow through with the journey of entering your online store to making a purchase is challenging. This is where knowing the latest e-commerce trends can help you. 

Trends change and morph every year. But following through with the right trends can transform your business. When the pandemic was at its peak, 90 days was all it took for 10 years of projected e-commerce growth

This disruption has only gone up since 2020. The businesses that adopted this digital change survived and stayed on top.

 What Stood Out for E-Commerce in 2021

In 2020, people were taken aback by the wave of changes and uncertainties. In 2021, this improved to an extent, and stores tried to adapt to the changes. However, this was still accompanied by stores struggling to stay afloat in the supply chain crisis. 

To combat this issue, third-party sellers and marketplaces have become more prominent. At Walmart, the number of third-party sellers increased to 130,000 in 2021, whereas in 2020 it was only 70,000.

The rise of social commerce, increased reliance on marketplaces, and speedy shipping. These were some of the areas where e-commerce took off in 2021. Now let’s dive into the landscape of e-commerce in 2022 with the top five trends that are shaping the future of online shopping.

1.Personalized shopping experience with AI and Augmented Reality 

Customers may come to your site with an idea of what to buy. They may be browsing because of a push notification, social post or even looking for some retail therapy. At such times, if you understand their preferences beforehand and personalize this experience, this will separate you from the competitors. Personalization is the most important experience you can give your customers. 

61% of shoppers will prefer brands that can customize their location and search preferences. 

With the advent of AI, this is simple today. From the data of browsing history, purchase history, wishlist data, email interactions, and more, you can provide personalized recommendations. 

Augmented Reality (AR) is another personalization feature that is becoming increasingly popular. Your customer’s buying experience will be enhanced by options like virtually trying on spectacles in the comfort of their home. Trying a product beforehand or understanding its specifics visually ensures they know exactly what they are buying. 

This drastically reduces returns and improves conversion rates. The retailers that provide the AR feature experienced a 20% increase in engagement rate and also have a 90% conversion rate among those who try it. 

Imagine if your customers got a unique personalized experience on your website or native app, got product recommendations they liked, and even got to try them on virtually! You will be providing them with an experience as close to shopping in-store when they are browsing from their bed. 2022 is all about making your customers comfortable. 

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2.Enhanced payment options with Buy Now Pay Later and More

Convenience is a key factor in enabling sales. Allowing users to pay however they like is a part of this experience. Especially with online shopping when customers are largely Millenials and GenZ who are moving beyond traditional payment methods. 

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is a popular method where the shopper can simply choose to pay later and yet get the items to their doorstep within no time. “Pay with Sezzle” is one of the options seen on e-commerce websites today. 

Options like these allow the user to pay with minimal or no interest rate at all. They could choose to pay in installments over 30 days, months, or years depending on the plan. 

This is convenience at its best. This is probably why in 2021, 55.8% of the customers used the BNPL option for payment. 

Paying later also helps to solve the cart abandonment problem. Customers don’t have to go looking for card CVV details, wait for an OTP, or recollect UPI ID. They can click pay later and be done! An entire process is eliminated at checkout.

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While payment options are on the rise, another popular financial element is cryptocurrency. The online generation has a lot of customers investing in Web3. These payments are on their way to becoming more viable and websites need to be on the lookout to see if their customers are expecting this too! 

3.Social media, influencers, and cross channel marketing

The power of social media is ever increasing in this digital age and for e-commerce, it is a game-changer. Using this tool for business strategies can increase your brand awareness and customer base.

The brands that leveraged social media on average had 32% more sales.  This could even impact your Average Order Value (AOV). The customers redirected to your online store through social media have higher-order value. From Instagram alone, the AOV can be $65

Beyond statistics, social media is imperative to show your brand value and evoke positive emotions among your customers.

“In the beginning, eCommerce was really about getting commodity products online as cheaply as possible. Now, we’re moving into the more exciting phase of eCommerce, where it’s about emotional products – the things people really cherish.”– Jason Goldberg, Founder, and CEO of Fab.com

The way customers are consuming social media content is different today. They will be more open to your content when they can trust it, and they actively avoid ads.

User-Generated Content (UGC) helps build that trust. Your CTR can increase by 73% when your marketing team incorporates UGC in their messaging. When users with a decent following share your new sneakers, your new line of clothing, or show off your furniture in their WFH setup, more customers will be inclined to buy them too.

Leverage social listening tools to understand how your customers are talking about your brand and reuse their content appropriately (with their permission).

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Social media is a powerful tool to imbibe cross-channel marketing. Encourage your users online to rush to their nearest store to avail an exclusive discount. Likewise, encourage users in the store to follow you online for rewards and more. These can be great initiatives to build your brand and eventually, sales. 

4.Brands with a cause and social responsibility 

There is an increasing vocal uprising about social causes, as is the need of the hour. This also means customers are likely to engage with brands that care about causes. 

In e-commerce, especially, sustainability, fast fashion, and environmental factors can be contributing factors to your user base. 66% of consumers would even pay more for sustainable products.

Shoppers are upcycling products and even reselling them. They seek products that are packed in an environment-friendly way. This means you have to be more mindful of the way materials like plastic are used in your shipments for your customers and the environment. 

Brands with a huge following have a responsibility to stand for the right messages and socio-economic situations. Preferences such as cruelty-free products are on the rise with customers who are refusing to engage with brands that take part in animal testing. Navigating your brand towards such preferences will open up your customer base. 

When TOMS made the “You Engage, We’ll Give” campaign, they asked users to upload images of their bare feet with the hashtag, #WithoutShoes. They promised to provide new shoes to the kids in need for every photo. Because of their massive engagement, 2,96,243 children received new TOMS shoes. 

They ticked all the right boxes with this initiative – branding, goodwill, increased user base, and eventually increased sales. 

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Chatbots for enhanced customer service 

Chatbots can be your customer executive, sales representative, escalation manager, FAQ provider, and so much more. Conversational chatbots powered by AL and ML are the power tool for improved customer experience. 

They provide navigational solutions for customers to go through your website with a simple question. Customers can ask your chatbot questions and you can program your bot to answer instantly. 

They can even provide upselling and cross-selling options to a shopper by recommending products while they shop. 

While your human support staff may not be available 24/7, a chatbot will be. It can escalate challenging conversations to you when it detects the urgency but in many cases, it can have you covered. 

Customers are expecting this level of experience today. They no longer want to wait for executives to pick up their call, 33% of the customers find it frustrating to do so as well. 

A chatbot could solve their problems in seconds, provide tracking information, easily exchange or cancel products and even recommend products! It can also be a great tool in your order fulfillment system by keeping the customer informed about their order status.

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A chatbot can help solve problems of cart abandonment by reminding users to purchase with a new discount code. It can solve queries as fast as possible in any language just as the shopper expects. It provides a great interactive experience for your shopper just like in a physical store! 

How Can You Keep Up with the Changing Trends?

There you go folks: the top five trends that you should keep an eye on this year. However, sometimes it can become overwhelming to keep up with changing trends. 

Use trends as a navigational tool to get direction for your brand every year. Most importantly, keep customers at the center of all your decisions by understanding what they need and want. 

Some trends might be more suited to your target audience than others. You can only conclude this by gathering customer insights and providing what they seek.

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