The 10 Most Important eCommerce Trends for 2022
In the increasingly competitive eCommerce industry, 2021 showed us that brands that continue to adapt and innovate will survive.
For 2022, we expect to see dozens of new trends in eCommerce, and we wanted to compile a Top 10 trend list: from consolidation, to privacy changes, and the rapid rise of buy now, pay later, the eCommerce industry is going to be even more exciting in 2022.
1. Acquisitions and consolidation incoming
Historically, many eCommerce businesses drove rapid growth by relying on targeted Facebook ads. But due to Apple’s privacy changes, the brands that did so are now struggling to generate revenue and profits as customer acquisition costs (CACs) have risen.
In 2022, we expect to see these eCommerce brands that relied heavily on ads get acquired by larger brands, private equity firms, and aggregators. Because these business models relied heavily on high-cost customer acquisition strategies, their customer retention efforts may be lacking and “force” the brands to sell or close shop.
2. Mobile apps are coming back
Mobile-first shopping will go a step further in 2022 with the resurgence of mobile apps, which haven’t been in vogue since the mid-2010s. This will be an important investment for brands that focus on their high-value customers (HVCs) and other brand evangelists.
Why? Because mobile apps are a great way to drive retention.
When mobile apps for consumer product brands were first introduced, brands relied on them as acquisition channels and didn’t realize how great the apps were for retention. But with retention strategies becoming a fundamental focus in 2022, we expect more brands to release mobile apps with retention strategies in mind. These retention strategies include exclusive in-app coupons, personalized notifications, early access to new products, and more.
And because brands “own” the mobile app, they’ll be able to track their customers’ activity, collect zero-party data (see prediction #5), and build personalized experiences with ease.
3. More Apple privacy changes are coming, but how big will they be?
Apple made it clear in 2021 that they have gone to war with Facebook over privacy. In 2022, we expect Apple to continue its privacy battle plans, but will there be any iOS 14- or iOS 15-sized bombs dropped?
So far, the biggest news of 2022 is that App Store data privacy requirements announced last June are going into effect at the end of January. In short, an app must “Explain its data retention/deletion policies and describe how a user can revoke consent and/or request deletion of the user’s data.”
This is small compared to the 2021 updates, but we’re waiting to see what major change will come with the next iOS update. Will it be another haymaker aimed at Facebook? Will it be yet another squeeze on email? Will Apple start a 3PL leveraging its upcoming self-driving vehicles? Only time will tell.
4. TikTok becomes a fundamental marketing priority for brands (not just for targeting Gen Z!)
Based on recent data and trends, leveraging TikTok is crucial to successfully target younger demographics. But while TikTok is the most used application by teens and pre-teens, it and surpassed Google as the most popular site on the internet in 2021. TikTok is now a crucial marketing channel to invest in regardless of the demographic.
If you haven’t already begun to grow your presence on TikTok, now is the time. TikTok ads have established a reputation as consumers’ favorite platform to watch advertisements, and you can create lifestyle videos, funny ones, or start your own trends.
Here’s some quick inspo from Tentree, who creates great lifestyle content that features both their products and the natural environment:
5. Zero-party data (and first-party data) will decide which businesses succeed and fail
Yes, that’s a bold claim, but we’re all familiar with how crucial the customer experience is to differentiate your brand. And zero-party data paves the way for better, more personalized experiences.
It’s a major challenge, though: Facebook CACs are higher than high and Apple cut off the data pipeline that fueled the algorithm. So, you need to start leveraging your owned data, that is, your first- and zero-party data in ads.
If you haven’t started collecting zero-party data, start yesterday. You can get the good stuff from product quizzes, surveys, SMS responses, communication preference centers, and more.
Ramping up zero-party data collection is the way eCommerce brands can thrive in this era of increased privacy measures.
6. Consumer product brands embrace Walmart’s marketplace
Or… It might be more accurate to say that Walmart embraced consumer product brands. The retail giant’s marketplace has existed since 2009, but it wasn’t positioned to compete with Amazon until Walmart announced its partnership with Shopify.
Since Walmart and Shopify struck a deal, the marketplace has been on a rapid growth trajectory, currently hosting more than 130,000 sellers, and more than 31,000 sellers started in 2021 alone.
Walmart’s marketplace provides eCommerce brands with a quick, convenient way of reaching thousands of consumers without the heavy acquisition costs. Additionally, Walmart’s leading fulfillment methods and global presence helped brands navigate the pandemic’s supply chain challenges.
7. A rise in omnichannel experiences combining digital + retail (AR/VR coming in hot!)
eCommerce isn’t going anywhere, and neither is retail. eCommerce offers shoppers vastly different experiences from traditional retail, including significantly more convenience.
Meanwhile, traditional retail thrives in its own right, allowing customers to feel more secure about their purchases and enjoy in-person experiences that brands can create.
Click and Collect has grown steadily, and consumer product brands are now leveraging the next frontier: AR/VR and similar technologies. These combine retail and digital experiences together… We’ll be covering AR/VR soon enough.
8. The growth of social commerce & live shopping
The pandemic accelerated social commerce’s growth trajectory, bringing sales up to approximately $560 billion in 2020. And live shopping has revolutionized consumers’ shopping experience, offering rich entertainment value while encouraging shoppers to buy.
Live shopping conversion rates are ridiculously high. For example, around 83% of Indian viewers made purchases during live streams, according to Statista. Don’t you want a piece of that pie?
In 2022, we anticipate consumer product brands will invest more in social commerce and influencer partnerships. That means more brand challenges, livestream shopping experiences, and increased usage of Facebook and Instagram Shopping.
9. Same-day delivery will be a goal (an ambitious one)
Remember when customers were content with a one-week delivery window (or even longer)? Then, Amazon Prime came along, and two-day shipping became the industry standard.
The joke’s on us for hoping expectations wouldn’t evolve further, which they now have. Consumers are giving more preference to same-day delivery options, even if they have to pay an additional fee for it.
We can expect some eCommerce brands working with superstar 3PLs to take steps toward offering same-day delivery in select locations, even if it is only for certain products.
10. Buy now, pay later will continue to gain popularity
The global pandemic facilitated stark changes in consumer behavior, including an increased affinity for buy now, pay later (BNPL) payment options. BNPL lets consumers purchase items on mini-installment plans, and the business has gained popularity.
Many consumers prefer BNPL over credit cards for two core reasons:
- BNPL plans typically have no interest or low-interest rates.
- BNPL providers don’t usually check consumer credit scores, while credit card providers do.
However, credit cards still offer their own appeal, thanks to discounts, cashback, and similar benefits. Consumers aren’t going to abandon credit cards in the foreseeable future, but eCommerce brands can improve customer experiences by expanding their payment options and offering BNPL.
eCommerce brands have their work cut out for them in 2022, with a long checklist of strategies to implement or try out. In this competitive, changing climate, consumer product brands must:
- Improve customer experiences like never before, to differentiate themselves from the competition. This means embracing zero-party data to personalize your campaigns, leveraging “youth-friendly” mediums like TikTok, and investing more in social commerce and live shopping.
- Diversify your offering to cater to different consumer preferences. This involves investing in faster delivery and buy now, pay later options and expanding your payment options.
- Continue to adapt. Because (as we learned from COVID-19) we can’t predict or prepare for every eventuality. But we can stay armed and ready to meet new challenges and devise creative solutions.
So which of these eCom trends has your brand already embraced, and which made your 2022 checklist?