Year in Review Top 2021 Ecommerce Trends & Predictions for 2022

 In Ecommerce, Post-Purchase, Product Returns

2021 is quickly ending. In the past year there have been many advancements, hurdles, and changes in the world of ecommerce. More than in any other time in global logistics and ecommerce, retailers and shipping providers are creating and/or improving their businesses to meet the needs of customers wherever they are located.

In an ever-changing realm such as ecommerce and logistics let us look at the top ecommerce trends of 2021 and what we can look to expect in the coming year before the big ball drops in New York City.


Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) has been a meaningful change for ecommerce since its introduction. In fact, recent virtual shopping statistics finds that 63% of online shoppers claim AR will improve their shopping experience. [eCom Dash, 2021] AR technology gives consumers the ability to see the item they are shopping for which helps with their purchase decision.

In industries such as fashion and home décor, AR technology has been a vital addition to their ecommerce business. Customers can see how clothes would look on them without wearing them. 3D models of furniture can be seen in the shopper’s home – giving them the ability to see assorted styles and colors and how the specific item matches with their current aesthetic before bringing it into the home. AR can cut down on returns drastically and increase profit margins.

The adoption and use of smart speakers and their aid in completely daily tasks are becoming ever more prevalent in people’s homes. Statista predicts 75% of households in the US will own a smart speaker by 2025.

Greater usage of smart speakers by consumers to complete tasks such as ordering dinner and shopping online will give retailers, in terms of sales and marketing opportunities, the ability to reach more customers with content and keywords by using ecommerce technology trends like these to change the game in their favor.

AI Assists Retailers with Critical Data

Data is always being collected on customers by AI on how they shop, their tendencies and what they are looking for in a product. 2021 saw an increase in AI service applications across ecommerce sites. In 2019 a survey conducted by Gartner found that 37% of businesses use AI in their workplace and according to Statista, revenue of AI is expected to reach $126 billion by 2025.

As ecommerce artificial intelligence becomes more human-like retailers will be able to use bots that can form sentences that convey emotion. Bots that understand humans and can offer products and comfort based on emotion is within the realm of possibility.

Personalized Experiences Are Created By Big Data

Consumers crave personalization and individualized shopping experiences when shopping online. Data collected by AI makes it possible for consumers to have these experiences.

Features such as product recommendations based on their likes and shopping tendencies create opportunities for cross-selling. Implementing AI that leverages the vast amounts of data of customers will further make online shopping seem more tailored to the individualized.

The use of artificial intelligence is also shown to increase profits according to a study conducted in 2019. Also, in a report released by Anodot, 81% of retailers increased their AI budget to increase sales for the 2021 holiday shopping season.

Shopping Experiences Are Improved by Chatbots

Much like in-store sales associates, chatbots interact with and assist customers with their online shopping experience. When a shopper can’t find an answer and solution to an issue in a couple clicks, they begin to get annoyed.

Chatbots help the customer reach a resolution quickly or give them the resources needed to reach someone who can resolve the problem; potentially saving a sale or preserving customer retention. In fact, according to Comm100 chatbots will reach a 90% customer satisfaction rate in 2022.

Mcommerce is Still Surging

The Mcommerce revolution had been growing year-over-year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; but since then it has surged greatly.

If your online store website is not responsive or supported by mobile devices, it’s likely you’re missing a huge portion of sales opportunities. eMarketer expects mcommerce sales will account for 10.4% of all retail sales in the US by 2025. It’s fair to assume mcommerce will continue to shape the future of retail.

Ability to Pay Available in More Ways

Customers have diverse needs when it comes to making payments online. If a certain payment method is not available at checkout customers may cancel their purchase altogether. As an online retailer, offering a wide range of payment options will increase conversion rates in mcommerce.

Shoppers also want ease and speed when making a purchase. The ability to store payment information on your site to checkout faster prevents second guessing of purchases and the ease is appealing to customers.

Apple has been exploring a centralized payment method. A unique ID would be given to customers that when entered at point-of-sale would supply payment information, shipping address, customer name etcetera, making transactions streamlined and more efficient. Retailers offering many payment methods is a trend not only for 2021, but the future as well.

API-Driven & Headless Ecommerce Fosters Innovation

Headless ecommerce enables an online store to be completely removed from the frontend presentation layer. Flexibility on the backend, SEO, content marketing and digital experience capabilities are the main factors as to why ecommerce businesses are moving to headless.

Ecommerce Trends for 2022 and Beyond

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)

BNPL services are distruptive technologies in ecommerce, found in the likes of Affirm, Klarna and Afterpay have been on the rise in 2021 and are expected to increase in 2022 and beyond.

Many retailers are adding the option for BNPL at the point-of-sale both in store and online. In the US, the number of buy now pay later users is likely to grow from 45.1 million in 2021 to 76.6 million in 2025. [eMarketer, 2021]

Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs and ecommerce customer loyalty tools have been around forever in one form or another and they are not going anywhere. Customers being rewarded for repeat purchases from a company they have come to know and trust makes them feel like their business is being valued.

According to a YouGov survey, 68% of US adults like loyalty programs that send personalized offers/discounts based on their purchase history. Loyalty programs will continue to be beneficial to customer retention in 2022 and the future.

Sustainability

Being environmentally conscious and improving sustainability is increasingly important to consumers. Ensuring the planet is habitable for future generations, building an eco-friendly brand by moving to green shipping and lessening your company’s carbon footprint could help you reach another market of customers.

A recent survey found that 71% of US adults ages 18 to 55 care immensely about product sustainability. [Stifel and Morning Consult, May 2021]

Metaverse & Gaming Sales

Facebook recently rebranded their parent company name to Meta and have plans to unveil the Metaverse, a virtual reality world where users can connect and play games. Meta isn’t the only company exploring a virtual reality world. Gaming platforms based on the Ethereum blockchain such as Decentraland and The Sandbox are exploring the possibilities of a virtual reality world.

These platforms are giving players the ability to buy and possess land on the game similar to owning property in real life. There is only so much property available and players can choose to use their land as they wish such as building homes, malls, event areas etcetera. The value of the land is dependent on location, what is built on it and development potential, much like real world real-estate. Players can buy items that are unique and tied directly to them much like going to the store and making a purchase.

These game platforms have created their own cryptocurrencies and financial economies – MANA for Decentraland and SAND for The Sandbox. This unique development creates opportunities for businesses to market themselves within the game. Brands could sell virtual items of their merchandise within the game that players have full ownership using blockchain technology.

Live Streaming Commerce

Similar to QVC where customers watch someone plug a product through live video – live streaming commerce is shaking up ecommerce. Live streaming commerce is a new trend where brands or influencers they have hired do live streams showcasing their products and customers can interact directly with the presenter.

Customers can ask questions, see demonstrations and even swipe up to make purchases directly within the app. Companies that are exploring this space include a pairing of Walmart and TikTok, Amazon with their Amazon Live and Meta with Facebook and Live Shopping Fridays. According to a recent study by McKinsey, live commerce could account for 10-20% of all ecommerce sales by 2026.

Conclusion

The ball is closer to dropping in New York. As we look ahead to 2022, rest assured ecommerce will continue to evolve. The process of improving the online shopping experience for customers, increasing sales and making shipping more cost efficient, streamlined and sustainable for retailers will continue in its never-ending cycle.

Keeping up to date with the current trends will ensure your ecommerce business stays relevant and competitive well into the future.