2021 hit the eCommerce space with some serious challenges including a global shipping crisis and supply chain bottlenecks. But this year too, eCommerce retailers upped their game to provide better customer experience and meet rising consumer expectations.
When the global pandemic forced an international lockdown, eCommerce became the clear path for retail. But as businesses increasingly moved their operations online, many were unclear as to which eCommerce channel to prioritize.
Now, as we look back at the 2021 eCommerce trends, e-tailers may better understand where to focus their 2022 efforts. We have seen an increase in mobile sales and a shift towards social commerce, among other trends, that will significantly impact the 2022 eCommerce plan.
looking to 2021
There were some interesting eCommerce trends in 2021, some of which were expected, while others took us by surprise. Now that you have your killer holiday campaigns in place, top them off by looking back at the lessons learned. For most eCommerce, the holiday season is the biggest expense and push. Think about what worked for you and then how other trends we look at can improve and expand on your holiday successes.
If you’re going to experiment, try it in early 2022. You want to know what’s useful long before your holiday campaign starts at the end of next year.
mobile sales continue to grow
Mobile commerce sales continue to grow, reaching an all-time high in 2021:
In the years prior to 2016, it was not uncommon to find websites that were not Mobile Responsive. Many eCommerce brands were selling enough just because they were desktop-friendly. But we are in 2022, and consumers make convenience even more of a priority. Mobile shopping makes it easy for consumers to place orders on the go and its appeal is reflected in the numbers.
To keep up with the growing mobile eCommerce market, most e-retailers are ensuring that their stores and funnels are mobile-friendly. However, as sales for mobile shopping increase, you’ll probably want to see how your existing mobile marketing can be improved. Are there steps your brand can take to make it even easier for mobile users to shop?
Social commerce and live shopping gained more traction
More than 200 Instagram users visit a brand’s page every day, and 58% of the platform’s users are interested in products after viewing them on Instagram Stories. Hence, consumers are not only using social media to stay in touch with their friends; they want to buy.
Unsurprisingly, social media giants like Facebook and its daughter brands Instagram and WhatsApp were quick to embrace social commerce. Over the years, we’ve seen Meta-owned social media platforms evolve before Instagram and Facebook Shopping to offer more creative options like WhatsApp Business and Facebook Marketplace.
More recently, the live streaming features of FB and Instagram allow brands to connect directly to the products they’re talking about. So as social commerce becomes increasingly important, we’re expecting the social media giant to continue rolling out its shopping features.
Consumers focused on sustainability
As consumers become more aware of environmental issues, they hold brands to a higher level of accountability. Statista conducted a survey to better understand which eco-friendly brand attributes matter to consumers, and 45% of respondents were looking for environmentally responsible or sustainable brands.
Many eCommerce brands are increasing their sustainability efforts, such as by reducing their plastic use. But, to meet the consumer expectations, we can expect the brands to become even more eco-conscious in 2022. Additionally, brands that have not yet introduced sustainability practices may follow suit.
Supply chain flexibility becomes paramount
The pandemic disrupted 2020 supply chain operations in an unprecedented way, and 2021 has yet to recover from the fallout. We still face global shipping challenges, supply constraints (which forced Apple to halt iPhone production), and inflation, among other issues.
Some sectors have suffered more than others, and some businesses have outperformed their competitors. But, in general, most eCommerce brands have faced supply chain challenges. These problems have encouraged brands to prioritize supply chain flexibility and adopt supply chain strategies that are more resilient to disruptions. Companies are struggling because research shows that customers still want expedited shipping options, but making promises and delivering becomes harder.
Increase in use of Google Local Inventory Ads (LIA)
In 2021, more eCommerce brands leveraged Google LIA and LSA (Service Ads) to increase local sales. Google local inventory ads help you increase your visibility and get in front of ‘ready to buy’ customers. When a customer near you enters a search time like “red shirt near me,” your ads will display your in-store products and store information. One major advantage of using LIA ads is that they display inventory currently in stock, so you can quickly convert customers who are already in the buying phase.
Moving from ROAS ad spend strategy to POAS
While ROAS technically means ‘return on’ ad spend, many eCommerce brands calculate ‘revenue’ instead due to the complexities involved. Unfortunately, revenue omits important considerations related to your profit margin, including shipping and fixed costs, making it an unreliable success indicator.
However, because of how convenient the metric is, many businesses stick to ROAS. They will be able to set an average or varying ROAS target, or the highest break-even target. But all of these strategies come with pitfalls, resulting in the tendency to make inaccurate data or poor decisions.
2021 was a difficult year for digital advertising – iOS updates created a huge gap between retailers and consumers, and ad spending has soared across many industries. And with these challenges, there is a need to adopt more strategic spending strategies.
Therefore, going forward in 2022, more businesses may move to POAS (profit on advertising spend) to measure performance. POAS is more reliable because it accounts for additional expenses such as your fixed costs. KPIs really determine the success of your ad; As long as your POAS is greater than 1, you are making a profit from ad spend.
implementation for the future
In 2021, eCommerce brands adopted a new strategy to deliver a better customer experience. As we ease into 2022, we can expect to see more implementations:
Omnichannel is the name of the game
The retail eCommerce sector is increasingly competitive, so if your prospects can’t find you, you will lose them to competitors. So don’t let them hunt you down. Instead, increase the visibility of your brand and branch out into the platforms that host your target audience.
Just relying on Google search is not enough and neither is relying on social media. Use Both Because consumers are interacting with brands across different channels. Furthermore, according to research by Sprout Social, about 85% of customers will not make a purchase until they have seen a product multiple times. Therefore, an ubiquitous presence is important to increase conversion.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Although IBM’s Watson didn’t live up to its hype, AI has revolutionized the eCommerce sector. Artificial Intelligence has helped eCommerce brands enhance their customer service and provide a more personalized experience.
Invesp’s survey on product recommendations showed that 49% of customers bought a product they had no prior intention to buy, after receiving a personalized recommendation. Thus, given how important repeat purchases are, eCommerce retailers cannot under-deliver when it comes to personalized experiences. Hence many companies are adopting specific eCommerce merchandising practices for 2022 audience.
Chatbots have become mainstream, with more than two-thirds of customers using them in 2020. They provide customers a step above ‘self-service’ support without any human intervention.
So, if you’re not already using a chatbot, you can consider improving your 2022 customer service strategy with them. Chatbots provide 24/7 customer support without the huge cost of hiring personnel round the clock. You can create complex flows to manage common support requests and integrate live chat functionality to let support agents take charge when needed.
After being guided through a Google search, Bob lands on your eCommerce store looking for a smartphone. He finds the one he likes and proceeds to add it to his cart. Now, your store’s AI comes and recommends a hairdryer to him, but Bob isn’t interested in it, so he just proceeds to buy a smartphone.
If AI had recommended a smartphone cover or screen protector, Bob’s order value could have been higher. And that’s why hyper-personalization is important to modern marketing.
With hyper-personalization, eCommerce brands make repeat purchases by strategically guiding customers to valuable purchases. You can upsell or cross-sell to increase revenue, as well as provide value to customers, increasing their loyalty.
Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR)
While eCommerce retail takes the cake for consumer convenience, brick-and-mortar stores have an advantage over physical browsing. Consumers can see and feel physical products before finalizing their purchases, giving them more confidence in their purchase decisions.
And while augmented and virtual reality seems like a futuristic concept, many eCommerce brands picked it up during the pandemic to fill the gap. With AR/VR, consumers can ‘browse’ and view items from multiple angles (and even digitized doors for items like cars), creating greater confidence in their purchases.
2021 saw no fundamental change in marketing principles, as tenants remain the same; Provide a superior customer experience, help your audience find you, and optimize your supply chain operations.
As we venture into 2022, some important 2021 takeaways include:
- Meet your customers in their favorite places. Does your target audience love to hang out on TikTok? Or maybe they prefer to shop on Instagram? Find out what platforms your audience uses, and consider creative ways to meet them. For example, if your target audience uses TikTok, negotiating a sponsorship deal with a popular creator can help you generate brand awareness.
- Don’t just personalize; Hyper-personalised. Segment your audience, and then segment your segments. One of the many advantages of big data is that brands aren’t limited to basic segment categories like age or location. Now, you can explore your customers’ interests, what social causes resonate with them, their buying patterns, and more.
- Be creative with your logistics plan. While supply chain disruptions are inevitable, retailers can do Control how we respond to them. Audit your fulfillment efforts and identify areas of improvement, whether it’s leveraging inventory management software, distributing your inventory, or outsourcing your logistics to a fulfillment partner.
- Step up your advertising game and audit your marketing strategy. Digital advertising has faced many challenges over the years, but it is still vital to your eCommerce strategy. Maybe you need to reevaluate the way you monitor ad spend performance, or scale up your local advertising efforts, but the ads aren’t going anywhere.
So, with these important considerations in mind, what will your 2022 eCommerce marketing strategy look like?