7 Ecommerce Predictions From 2021 & What We Can Learn for 2022
If the past couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that the only predictable thing in this world is unpredictability. Despite this fact, we believe analyzing the ecommerce predictions for 2021 is a good idea – to see what came to fruition, what didn’t and how past events can help us prepare for 2022 and the future.
We’ve been on a rollercoaster the past couple of years. Some businesses closed permanently while others surged as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy, ecommerce and logistics. Despite the unpredictability created by the pandemic, ecommerce found a way to grow and evolve.
As 2021 comes to a close let’s analyze what experts predicted for the past year. After examining their predictions, you can then see how it all relates to your ecommerce business and how to apply these trends to guide you into 2022 and beyond.
One: Supply Chain Resiliency
Despite shared optimism among experts that the supply chain would become more resilient and capable of withstanding increased volume by consumers there was little room for improvement and innovation. Optimism began to falter with the Suez Canal blockage in April 2021. Order backlogs and shipping container shortages created by the resulting bottleneck of the blockage is still being felt.
Supply chain difficulties continue making it paramount for retailers to be proactive in communication with customers in 2022. As an ecommerce retailer, the supply chain is not within your control, but you can manage customer relations. Keeping an open line of communication with customers, making them aware of issues you’re facing and what they can expect will ensure customers feel well informed aiding in customer retention.
Being proactive in planning ahead is also more important than ever. If you’re wanting to offer summer deals you should begin ordering your stock now to avoid delays, save time and avoid stress. If you’re a small business, hyperlocal marketing is a possibility, delivering to addresses only in your zipcode and avoiding the need for shipping containers.
Two: Consumer Confidence
Experts predicted consumer confidence would rebound after the end of 2020’s lock-down period. In fact, McKinsey expected customers would take part in “revenge shopping.” Revenge shopping is a form of shopping that customers will sometimes engage in after a financial lean period. When customers are not able to purchase luxury items, once able, they will splurge to make up for the period of frugality.
Sure enough, consumer confidence was trending in the direction expected in early 2021 until unexpected events began to arise and unfold. The Suez Canal blockage, inflation and the emergence of new COVID variants such as delta and omicron contributed to the wavering in customer confidence throughout the year.
The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index spiraled to 67.4 in November 2021 – surprisingly lower than 2020. US consumer feelings regarding their financial situations is measured by the CSI. Unease due to the emergence of new COVID variants, the end of COVID-19 benefits and high inflation are a few of the reasons consumers most likely returned to a more financially cautious mindset.
Returning to the earlier statement to focus on only what you can control – you control the relationship with your customers. A drop in consumer confidence does not have to negatively affect your ecommerce business. Putting a conscientious effort into improving and providing exceptional customer service and a unique shopping experience will foster brand loyalty among your customers.
In fact, 52% of shoppers say they would go out of their way to buy from their favorite brands according to Zendesk.
Ways to build and improve customer confidence include:
- Customer Reviews
Personal testimonies and reviews are a terrific way for customers to learn about your brand. Customers tend to be more receptive to user-generated content and helps grow trust.
- Personal Touch
Adding a personal touch makes your ecommerce business standout from the competition and makes customers feel more valued. You can add this in many ways from packaging to communications and improve the customer experience.
- Brand Personality
Creating a brand personality that customers can connect and relate to improves customer confidence significantly. Consider creating funny and engaging videos related to your product or having a social media manager rely on proven social trends that can reply to social media comments with witty comments. Be transparent about your company and the people behind the product and form thought leadership content around related content.
- Anticipate Customer Needs
Anticipating customer needs requires engaging with your customers and understanding what they like and do not like. Data analytics give insight and help keep track of what items shoppers are buying. Knowing what your customers are buying can help avoid stock shortages and be prepared for any common product issues. Focus groups, surveys, connecting through email, social media and SMS messages are all ways to build a strong relationship with customers.
Three: Social Commerce
As people spend more time on social media than ever, companies such as Meta, Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok have integrated ecommerce directly into their applications, marking the start of the social commerce revolution. With the introduction of shop into Meta’s Facebook and Instagram apps and the combination of TikTok and Shopify has enabled customers to purchase items directly in the app.
Experts at eMarketer predicted that social commerce would continue to surge in 2021 and consumers proved them correct. Social commerce is not a bubble and is here to stay. Heading into the new year ecommerce retailers need to identify where their customers engage the most on social media. Having a prevalent social media presence that engages your customers will ensure your company will continue to be successful well into the future.
Don’t feel pressured to be on every social media under the sun. Focus on where your customers engage the most and provide the best service possible.
Four: Personalized Shopping Experiences
Shoppers expect a more personalized shopping experiences than ever before, proving the predictions for 2021 by BigCommerce and Deloitte correct. Customers want to be able to engage with businesses using multiple touchpoints from social media, company events to physical stores. Offering cross-channel ecommerce that shoppers can connect with your brand ensures your ecommerce business is staying at the forefront of your customers minds.
Data collection is a major factor in creating a more tailored experience for your customers. Customer relations management software (CRM), gathers data and gives valuable insight into what customers like. This knowledge will enable you to provide that more individualized and personalized shopping experience giving opportunities for cross-selling and upselling.
Five: Evolution of Physical Stores
Physical stores are evolving and proving that there is still a way to go until society moves to a total ecommerce world. With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, curbside pickup rose to major prevalence.
Customers want convenience when shopping online, but there is still a significant wait time when having items delivered to your home. Curbside pickup supplies the convenience of online shopping, removes the hassle of in store shopping and saves time from waiting for items to be shipped to your home.
In the next evolution of physical stores, curbside pickup is here to stay.
Six: Augmented Reality Expansion
Augmented reality (AR), gives consumers the ability to visualize the product they are shopping for without physically wearing it or stepping in a store. AR technology closes the gap for ecommerce retailers where physical stores excel. In fact, 63% of shoppers say AR would help improve their online shopping experience.
The pandemic quickly accelerated the adoption of AR technology as well as virtual shopping; both by customers and retailers in 2021 proving the predictions of experts at Deloitte correct. AR/VR technology is not limited to large corporations but are easily accessible and beneficial to small businesses as well. In the future AR will be common for ecommerce retailers of all sizes.
Seven: Sustainability is Priority
Consumers are more aware of the environment than ever before and want to ensure that they leave the planet a habitable place for generations to come. In fact, according to BusinessWire 61 percent of consumers say that sustainability and a greener supply chain is important to them when making a purchase.
This aligns with the predictions of BigCommerce experts who said that consumers are more aware of sustainability and will conscientiously make purchases that are better for the environment. A statistic to back this fact up is that the voluntary carbon market increased by 60 percent in 2021 according to a report from Ecosystem Marketplace. As consumers begin to realize companies and their effect on the environment, moving to more eco-friendly practices will benefit your reputation as an ecommerce retailer.
A few ways to make your business more sustainable include:
- Biodegradable packaging
- Source products sustainably
- Work towards a being a zero-waste company
- Offering carbon offsets
Even with the unpredictability we have all recently faced many of the predictions came to fruition while a couple did not. Understanding the trends of the past and how they apply to your ecommerce business now and for the future will give you the ability to handle any hurdles that may arise.
You will then find staying relevant and keeping your business competitive is much less stressful and easier.