Fast forward 27 years, today there is nothing that cannot be bought online. And at the beginning of 2021, eCommerce sales had hit the $4.891 billion mark. Partly because of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic again herding us back inside our homes. And partly because most of us had gotten accustomed to shopping at leisure from the comfort of our homes.
A lot had changed between 1994 and 2021.
Online shopping, today, is more than just about convenience. It has become an experience that people have started to enjoy and look forward to. Thus, opening up new, exciting, and rewarding opportunities for business with digital shopfronts.
Now as we step into the new year 2022, it is obvious that new trends will emerge. By the end of the year, eCommerce might not look anything like it does right now.
But the power of predictive intelligence vested in us by available data (and business instincts) can help us identify and earmark some of the trends that will shape the eCommerce industry in 2022 and beyond.
Here are some of those trends that we will see boom and bloom in the first half of the year.
1. Headless commerce
eCommerce is no doubt an extremely dynamic sector. Customer expectations keep changing and changing the online architecture becomes tough for sellers. But with the advent of headless commerce, a term coined in 2013, by Dirk Hoerig, co-founder of commercetools, the future looks promising.
Just like headless CMS, headless eCommerce separates the front and the back-end architecture. And allows change in either without the need for disturbing the other.
Headless commerce offers flexibility and speed in customizations. It also aids personalization and ensures a unified customer experience. This very well makes up for the higher cost of headless commerce implementation.
2. Crypto payments
Cryptocurrencies are gaining more acceptance from people.
Even governments coming up with their own cryptocurrencies.
And blockchain is disrupting the online world for good.
With all that, cryptocurrency will soon become an acceptable form of payment for eCommerce sales. Magento, with BitPay and Coingate and Shopify, with BitPay, CoinBase, and GoCoin, are already supporting crypto payments. And more crypto payment options will be seen in 2022.
Furthermore, cryptocurrency transactions occur directly between clients and sellers. This eliminates commissions, bringing down costs for both parties. Also, with no chargebacks, eCommerce frauds can also be reduced.
3. Live stream commerce
How many times have you seen something that your favourite influencer had and you wanted it to? But searching for those items on the web was tiresome. And you ultimately lost hope for getting that item. Well, that will soon change with Live stream commerce.
Live stream commerce is a modern, more efficient, and easier version of teleshopping. And it is as simple as it sounds. Brands or their hired influencers go Live on streams. And when the audience members like a product, they can simply buy it with one click.
A McKinsey report even predicted that by 2026, live stream commerce will account for 10-20% of eCommerce sales. Amazon Live, Walmart’s integration with TikTok, and Facebook’s Live Shopping Friday are early-stage examples of what Live stream commerce will look like.
4. Customer-centric practices
The customer has always been the king, but in 2022 there will be a definite acceleration in this trend. Some of the ways brands will be focusing more on customer-centric practices include:
Exit-intent popup - Before customers leave a brand’s online store, various types of exit-intent popups will be used to bring them back one last time.
- Higher emphasis on sustainability - Several businesses are switching to sustainable practices because of public pressure. Mass mandate has made more organizations go green than government regulations ever could. eCommerce marketers will make sustainability the core of their branding efforts in 2022.
- Scope for personalizations - The days of mass-produced items being shoved down people’s throats are behind us. Now customers demand items that are made-to-order. Brands that allow personalization during eCommerce sales are the ones that will survive.
- Chatbots for quick response times - In a bid to always be available for customers, chatbots will gain more prominence. A survey by Userlike suggested that 68% of users already like chatbots because of their quick response time. In 2022, chatbots will improve further with Artificial Intelligence and natural language processing. And the experience for users will be better than ever before.
- Use of AR and VR in online shopping - For users who like the ‘feel’ of shopping offline, the integration of augmented and virtual reality in eCommerce will be the turning point. Trying on items before purchase will become commonplace with AR and VR. And the online experience will come closer to the offline experience of shopping.
5. Visual Shopping
Young and technically advanced Internet users have long been using reverse-image search. But with Google’s Multitask Unified Model algorithm (MUM), shoppers can now upload the images of the things they want to buy, and the search algorithm, integrated with Google Lens will show them relevant results.
With proper visual optimization, businesses can bank on this trend in 2022 and boost their bottom lines.
Also, given that it is a G-backed initiative, people will be quick to adopt it because of the trust factor.
Gear up to bank on these trends today
With online sales expected to make up for 95% of all sales by the year 2040, 2022 is just the beginning of the dynamic evolution of eCommerce.
And other than the trends mentioned above, some others like drone shipping, voice search, shopping in virtual worlds like Metaverse, subscriptions, loyalty programs, and Buy Now Pay Later options are also expected to gain ground in 2022 and beyond.
No matter which trend you believe is going to be the most disruptive in your business niche, the time to act on it is now. Whether it is budgeting resources for technological upgrades or upskilling your staff to help them bank on the trends, you should start gearing up soon.