Over the course of last year, we’ve seen more and more businesses move online. The shift to digital could heavily be down to the world pandemic, it may be due to technological developments, it may simply be a natural process of business evolution or a combination of all of these.
Either way, a number of factors have driven more people than ever to shop online with nearly 30 percent of the world’s population choosing online as their preferred shopping channel.
With eCommerce becoming more important to business success, your digital offering needs to be in ship shape for the year ahead. So, let’s take a look at what could be on the cards in 2022…
1) Direct to consumer (DTC)
There was once a time where shoppers cared most about finding a product for the lowest price. But expectations have changed.
The pandemic acted as a catalyst, shifting shopping behaviour to greater interest in building authentic connections. In turn, we’ve become more selective of the brands we spend our money with. Combined with the evolution in digital, new opportunities have been uncovered that allow businesses to adapt to these modern-day shopping behaviours.
That’s where DTC came on the scene – a business model that has grown in huge popularity over the past year and is set to continue. In fact, DTC sales grew to be worth £96 billion in 2020! Doing exactly what it says on the tin – DTC involves businesses selling directly to the final consumers. Cutting out the middleman, brands are better positioned to build direct relationships and provide products to their customers without third-party retailers.
But DTC is about more than just driving direct sales. Lewis Sellers, Managing Director at Pinpoint, agreed: “Data-driven experiences can help brands provide a personal interaction and meet the needs and values of their customers. A DTC model can be a big helping hand in creating loyal customers, allowing you to foster deeper relationships with your audience and improve personalisation. By making the most of direct customer-experience data insights, you can develop strong DTC relationships and improve your offering in a way that truly resonates with the customer.”
There are a whole host of benefits to a business in adopting this model:
- Take charge of your customer journey: When you’re cut out of the full customer journey, you miss out on an awful lot of insight. A DTC relationship means you can engage with the people who are consuming your products, giving you the freedom to gather feedback and apply this insight to improve your offering.
- Higher customer lifetime value: When you’re working with a middleman to make sales, your CLV is bound to be lower simply because there’s more than one entity taking a slice of your profit.
- No need to rely on retail partners: If you rely on your retail partners to drive sales, your success essentially lies in their hands. DTC selling allows you to increase sales and pick up ones that may have been missed by your retail partners.
- Build loyalty: A loyal customer base is a good customer base. Shoppers like buying from the brands they love so if you already have keen consumers who are aware of your brand name, you’ve got a good start. DTC provides a platform to grow this all-important customer loyalty, allowing you to showcase your knowledge on the ins and outs of your products.
- Increase market share: eCommerce opens the doors to new selling opportunities. You can sell to a customer in another country as easily as you can sell to a customer down the road. Engage with larger audiences to gain more market share and build strength against your competitors.
- Try before you launch: Having a direct relationship with your customers means you can capture and use valuable data across all areas of your business including manufacturing, marketing and distribution. You have the ability to test new products or limited editions before releasing it to the wider market.
As with any trend, there are challenges to be aware of. From partner conflict to establishing yourself as a DTC provider to getting the right team in place, it’s worthwhile leaning on the help of an expert to get started.
As a Magento eCommerce agency, we have supported many clients in building their D2C offering, empowering them to sell at scale, automate their shopping journeys and create better onsite experiences. Take a look at the case studies to find out more:
2) Creating omnichannel customer experiences
Digital channels have changed the way customers interact and shop. Today, they expect information to be available in just a few clicks and often engage with multiple channels too. Whether it’s social media, bricks-and-mortar shopping, websites, apps, email, we like to have options.
Understanding what your customers prefer and making your brand available in these places is one way of securing more sales. And the want for omnichannel experiences isn’t expected to go anywhere soon. Fortunately, taking this approach can reap the benefits for your business including better operational efficiency, improved inventory turnover, increased sales and customer loyalty.
An omnichannel strategy will help you create a unified experience across every interaction with your customers. But there are countless ways this can be done and it’s important to find the approach that works for you. Examples could include but aren’t limited to:
- Loyalty app: Not only do these apps encourage people to shop with you; they can also be used to earn and redeem points whether shopping online or in-store.
- Buy online, collect in-store: To make the shopping experience an easier one, if an item is bought online, it’s worthwhile allowing your customers to collect or return their unwanted items in-store. This helps to save on return shipping costs and stocks up your inventory in-store.
- Showroom shopping: Showrooms typically carry less inventory and use their stock as a way of showcasing what’s available to the shopper. If this approach suits your products, why not offer customers the option to buy products in-store and ship their purchase directly to where they want it?
An effective omnichannel strategy ensures a consistent customer experience regardless of the channel, device, time or place a customer is shopping from. But support from a capable platform is required to make omnichannel a success. Using a platform like Adobe Commerce allows you to keep track of inventory in real-time, however your customers choose to shop. Covering three components of the supply chain, these insights are often the backbone to omnichannel activities:
- Order taking: Purchase management with suppliers
- Availability check: Check product availability during any sales process
- Fulfilment: Allow customer service to fulfil orders with ease for customers
3) Social commerce
Although social commerce isn’t new, its meteoric growth is undeniable. When retail was hit hard by lockdowns, eCommerce flourished, and social commerce was at the forefront of the trend. Just take a look at the stats:
- It’s estimated that the social commerce market will grow worldwide to over $3 trillion in the next eight years.
- 54 percent of Gen Z shoppers and 58 percent of Millennials agree that social platforms are better than online searches for finding out about new products.
- Every month, over 130 million users engage with Instagram shopping posts.
The most popular social media apps on our phones, from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Snapchat, have each integrated social commerce into their platforms. On these platforms, customers can read the reviews of others or get in touch with the seller directly before they buy. It’s an ideal opportunity to place yourself in the everyday lives of shoppers, share stories, trigger emotions and achieve valuable feedback.
Moreover, the social proof principle continues to rule as one of the most persuasive and effective methods of influencing a user to buy. Testimonials from real customers, user generated content from brand supporters and real data from industry experts can significantly increase the chance of a purchase. Even better, they’re pretty simple to implement within your strategy.
4) Live shopping
Live shopping increased by 21 percent globally between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021 – and it’s one trend we’re expecting to see grow in popularity throughout 2022.
As platforms like Instagram and Facebook launch their own live streaming features to cater for both shoppers and retailers, you can link directly to the products being discussed on the live stream.
A tactic that’s already transforming the customer experience, brands can partner with influencers or simply host live shopping events themselves to help their audience discover, review and purchase products within the same place. Plus, it has a whole host of benefits for businesses including:
- A way of increasing conversions
- A different method of standing out from the competition
- A new way to engage shoppers
- A chance to build trust with your audience
5) Augmented Reality (AR)
The phrase “try before you buy” takes on a whole new meaning with AR commerce. AR uses 3D mapping to allow customers to virtually try on products or preview experiences before committing to a purchase. This could include trying on glasses frames, placing a piece of furniture in situ in a room or applying various make up products to see what complements your skin tone.
AR in eCommerce can help you reach customers who may be too busy to pop into a store or don’t have a store nearby. Not only does it provide a more store-like experience for the shopper, but it also allows you to accurately represent the products you sell which could better match customer expectations and reduce return rates.
In July 2021, Snapchat purchased Vertebrae, a company that produces 3D images of products for brands. This investment indicates that social platforms could be next on the scene for developing their offering in the AR commerce space. Other major social platforms like Facebook and Pinterest have already invested in AR technology of their own to add to the social shopping experience.
Many of us grew up familiar with the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle”. Nowadays, it has become important for your business to reflect those same values. In fact, sustainability has become a key influence when it comes to making a purchase, often placed above price and convenience.
With environmentally conscious customers on the rise, promoting your sustainable practices can not only help the environment but also increase brand loyalty. During the McKinsey on Consumer and Retail podcast, McKinsey partner, Sebastian Gatze said:
“One out of four consumers say they are planning to focus more on environmental issues and will pay more attention to social aspects in their shopping behaviour.”
As eCommerce shopping has become all the more popular, more waste is being produced. The main concerns revolve around how online purchases are packaged, delivered and returned to the retailer as each of these add to cost, time, materials and greenhouse gas emissions. Shoppers have become more interested in brands whose production, packaging and delivery processes take sustainability into account.
But it’s no longer enough to slap a green badge on a product and call it sustainable. Customers today are much savvier than this and want brands to demonstrate clear cut commitments to their environmental responsibilities from packaging to manufacturing techniques.
7) Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and headless CMS’
While still relatively new on the technology scene, there are talks that PWAs and headless CMS’ will continue to grow in popularity over the next year. We even expect some well-known eCommerce brands to make the move to this space…
Firstly, let’s have a quick run through of what they are:
- PWAs: A PWA is a web application using modern web technologies and design patterns to provide a reliable, fast and engaging user experience. Secure and responsive with cross-browser compatibility, these solutions are able to work offline and take advantage of native mobile device features similar to an app experience.
- Headless CMS: In a headless CMS, the content repository (where your content is stored) is decoupled from the front-end user interface (where your content is displayed). As brands today need their content to adapt to a range of digital platforms including websites, mobile sites, social channels and apps, headless makes this a lot easier. As content is provided as data over an API rather than coupled to a particular output such as a web page, your content can have as many outputs as required which means your CMS can be used for any channel.
Creating next generation shopping experiences, PWAs and headless technology are redefining how shoppers can use their mobiles for online experiences. Adobe Commerce’s PWA Studio allows for the development, deployment and maintenance of a PWA storefront allowing you to transform the mobile experience, attract new customers, improve conversions and search rankings.
Are you ready for a new year?
A new year is a time to make even more out of your eCommerce investment. Being aware of common themes and rising trends, you’ll be better placed to please your customers and match their evolving expectations.
As always, if you want to know more about eCommerce and your website, we’re always up for a natter. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with team Pinpoint to learn how we can help you succeed in 2022 and beyond!