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13 Trends That Will Change the Landscape Head Over Heels

Helen Golubeva
Helen Golubeva Author

As the new 2022 year is gathering pace, the X-Cart team has spent some time putting together the latest trends in eCommerce. The more industry research we do, the more it seems that online retailers are still reeling from the COVID-19 consequences.

The pandemic brought about huge change, especially in the eCommerce industry. In theory, the whole globe was forced to respond to this pandemic together, but in practice, the Coronavirus disrupted businesses differently. 

Some mom-and-pop shops boomed with new demand, while others struggled to open online stores. Meanwhile, large enterprises adapted to the surge in online shopping at different paces, depending on how resilient they were before the pandemic.

In this article, we’ll revisit how those trends affect the eCommerce industry. We’ll look at the eCommerce trends that our friends at Seller Labs predicted for 2021, as well as offer our own thoughts on eCommerce trends in 2022.

I. The Present of eCommerce

X-Cart’s been there since the very beginning, so I can tell you this: 25 years ago there was no such thing as online stores. Everyone shopped offline, and having a chain of brick and mortar stores was pretty much the success.

But as technologies evolve, they become more and more affordable. Hence, more and more people out there get to use them in their everyday lives. And look how gladly we started shopping online.

That’s true for many people but not for everyone. Some still prefer physical stores – and cash.

So at this point, global online retail sales count around 9% of all the money spent shopping for goods! That’s a small number but if you think about it, it’s actually huge, considering only half of the world’s population have access to the Internet.

Statistics predict that online retail sales are to rise up to 24.5% by 2025. That means we’re in the middle of eCommerce evolution, and it’s going to evolve more. Just look at the steady uprising curve in the graphic below:

I. Marketing Matters

Marketing is closely connected to eCommerce. They developed side by side, those two and SEO.

It’s obvious that with the progress in online shopping, marketing will have to develop, too. Another reason is that it’s harder and harder to dazzle people to stand out in the crowd of similar-looking marketing stuff.

And you cannot not do any marketing at all, either: you’ll find yourself forgotten in no time.

Thus, here come the latest and future trends in eCommerce that you might want to adopt – or develop.

1. Automations

Automations, or automatic emails, are a sequence of targeted emails that are sent when triggered by a certain date or event. They are usually based on a client’s activity on your eCommerce website.

For example, if a client adds some products to cart and leaves your site for some reason, they receive an automatic email reminding them they have not completed their purchase.

Such emails long since became an ordinary thing and now are almost unnoticeable in our everyday lives. More than that, they became such an integral part of online shopping that we rather notice when they are not there.

For example, if you don’t receive an order notification right after you submitted a payment, you will most likely think something went wrong.

Setting up such automations may seem simple: you just choose an email service, create a standard message (some eCommerce solutions even have them ready for you), set a trigger (e.g. order placement) and that’s it.

However, you can make even the standard automatic messages stand out. You can make them personal. Personalization is the key to great customer service.

Of course, no one expects you to send each and every email to your clients manually. All you have to do is be creative and you can make your transactional emails bring you brand loyalty and, consequently, more revenue.

2. Visual and Audio Content

For the sake of explanation, let me tell you a bit about myself.

I consider myself a reading person. I am accustomed to reading classics and modern authors, fiction and popular science. But I work online and see a lot of content every day.

On the other hand, as a marketer, I know for sure: short texts with plenty of visual content are more likely to attract readers than plenty of text and little to no images. This is just how things work.

I know all that and I was still so shocked when I took the book I used to love as a child – and found it hard to read! Only because the sentences and paragraphs were longer than the usual two or three lines and there were few pictures.

My eyes and my brain got used to a certain format and I reckon most people will recognize themselves in this example.

People perceive visual and audio information better – this is a well-known fact. So figuring out your content marketing strategy, keep it in mind.

Use more images, infographics, schemes, video tutorials to get to your audience. Broadcast your thoughts in podcasts – this is a relatively new but already popular means.

3. Omnichannel Marketing

Building a marketing strategy in multiple sales channels isn’t new. It is becoming a must-do. Modern shoppers think omni-channel. They use a range of devices to look for the information – and buy things, too.

You should be within hand’s reach to give them what they are looking for, right here, right now.

I will not bother you here with the best omni-channel strategies, there are plenty of them across the Internet. I will not give you examples of the famous brands’ multi-channel marketing strategies here, either.

Just keep in mind the fact that 73% of customers use more than one channel when shopping online. And this percentage is only going to increase over time.

4. Social Shopping

Social shopping is a term used to identify the method of eCommerce where shoppers’ friends become involved in the shopping experience. Put simply, it’s where eCommerce stores and social media meet.

Social shopping as a phenomenon is closely connected with omni-channel selling, its integral part, if you will.

In the past couple of years, social networks stopped being just a fun way to spend spare time. Many online (and offline) store owners use them as another sales channel – and very effective at that.

Shoppable posts on social media allow providing your clients with a seamless shopping experience.

By now 40% of business owners use social networks to generate more sales. That makes social shopping a trend to consider for future development.

Social commerce revolutionized the eCommerce customer experience by allowing users to purchase items directly through their preferred social media platform. That means one less click for customers, and a lot more online sales for merchants that take advantage of this channel. 

For lifestyle brands that appeal to younger demographics, social commerce is a must for 2022. 

The social media platforms that allow for in-app purchases are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and WeChat.

II. Newest Technologies On the Line

Following are the trends that are not yet widely spread. However, they are expected to evolve over time – they are the future of online commerce.

Each of them is more or less related to artificial intelligence and machine learning. And although these technologies made great progress over the past couple of years, there are still a few complexities that slow down the process and don’t let them rule over the whole eCommerce world. Yet.

At this pace, these obstacles will be eliminated within the next couple of years. Just think what opportunities that will bring you!

1. Image Recognition

There are already a few apps that can recognize visual information and make relevant search queries for you. The most prominent – and probably the most skillful – is Google Lens.

This is a technology that integrates right into the webcam in an Android or iOS device. It uses a neural network to identify objects you point your webcam at and bring up relevant information. It’s also integrated with Google Photos, so you can find objects on photos, too.

It already can recognize barcodes, QR codes, labels, etc. You can even point your webcam at the wristwatch you liked so much and find out where you can buy them within a few seconds.

And this can become a golden mine for an eCommerce business owner who will apply it the right way.

2. Voice Commerce

More shoppers will use voice search and augmented reality. It is already showing up in the form of voice search – with such technologies as Siri or Google Assistant you don’t have to type every single request, it’s enough that you say it.

Over the past year or two, these technologies got to recognize human speech well enough to shift preferences. Nowadays teenagers, for instance, already use voice search more often than regular search.

In the future of online shopping, we will all buy things with the help of virtual assistants: Alexa (Amazon Echo), Google Home, or Alice (Yandex). In fact, Amazon already allows that.

The fact that by 2020 an estimated $40 billion (!) sales will be generated by voice commerce makes you think about grabbing your piece of this pie, now doesn’t it?

As eCommerce matures, so does the technology available to the industry. Voice search and Augmented Reality (AR) allow shoppers to develop a personal connection with online brands. 

Voice search, for one, has been on the horizon for years. After Amazon launched its smart speaker, Echo, shopping by voice has continued to grow. 

In 2022, the number of retail sales made by voice is predicted to increase by 55%. If you’re interested in capturing this slice of the market, start by optimizing your Amazon listings for Echo.  

AR, on the other hand, started to show up in the last year. AR experiences allow online shoppers to interact with products on their mobile device. 

The buying experience is meant to mimic visiting a store in real life, and it’s wildly popular. In fact, 100 million consumers used AR technology to buy products online in 2020. The data also suggest that 35% of buyers would buy more if they could use AR to test the product in their homes.

3. Contextual Advertising

Today’s search engine algorithms allow for such personalization customizing you never even dreamed of. The use of machine learning is common for all the major search engines and some start adopting artificial intelligence as well.

As a shopper, I find this extremely convenient as I don’t even have to search in some cases.

As an online store owner, you should grab the opportunities that progress gives you and never let them go. Only use them wisely and do not abuse your target audience with irrelevant promos.

III. The Latest Trends in Global eCommerce

The trends in eCommerce are ever-changing.

For example, 5 years ago everyone built their sites for desktop usage first, and then adapted them for mobile users – not even everyone did that. In the next five years, it’s wiser to build your site with mobile users in mind.

This is just the tip of the iceberg but it shows the overall tendencies. For the sake of clarity, let us review the main eCommerce industry trends one by one – to be able to make predictions for the future.

1. Brick and Mortar Stores vs. Online Shopping

With the rise of the eCommerce industry, physical stores were prophesied to fade away within a decade. Many said that no one will prefer going to a store or a market to shop for everyday products: clothes, electronics, books, even food.

20 years into the eCommerce sales era, local shops and big retail chains are still present and aren’t planning on going away. Online shops did not steal the thunder from the offline ones, but generated their own share of interest.

If anything, selling both online and offline seems like a great strategy for the upcoming years.

With tools like Google Maps and Locate Me, it became easier to find a physical store standing right where you are, with the help of a mobile device only. If you look at Google Maps, you’ll see how many businesses promote their brands there, doing “offline SEO”.

2. Evolving New Markets

The eCommerce industry started in the United States and spread almost all over the globe. The key word is “almost” here. Many third world and developing countries still don’t have access to the Internet, thus, can’t shop online.

The situation is changing, though, and now India, China, South Africa are entering the world of eCommerce, too. Being the most populated countries in the world, they are growing their market shares nice and fast.

It’s only been happening in the past couple of years, so if you start trading with them now, you are likely to outrun your competitors at the very start.

Do pay attention, though, to the differences and nuances in trading with people of other cultures. Learn their shopping habits, preferences, mind the shipping and payment options – beforehand.

3. Cross-Border Shopping

If you are buying a certain product online, why not order it from another country? This is what a lot of online shoppers think. And that makes sense.

Cross-border shopping has its pros. They can be as simple as “it’s cheaper” or “the quality’s better”. True, if a certain product is produced, for example, in China, it’s only logical that it’s cheaper there.

More often than not (even considering the shipping costs) one can make a much better deal ordering from abroad.

Cross-border shopping is also a trend to become more popular over time.

IV. New Payment Options

The new trends in online shopping logically lead to new ways a shopper should be treated. It especially concerns checkout options as this is the place where the final buying decision is made. Therefore, checkout should be as smooth and offer as many options as possible.

I have defined three main payment trends to consider in 2022 (if you haven’t earlier).

1. Digital Wallets

With mobile eCommerce conquering its share of the market, eCommerce pioneers have been adopting new payment methods.

After all, it’s not very comfy to enter your credit card details over and over again each time you want to make a payment. It’s so much easier to tap a button and confirm your payment with two-factor authentication.

Storing the payment details would be even easier but with such sensitive data it’s the worst idea possible. I will even put aside the fact that it’s illegal.

In the current situation, digital wallets are a real savior. You attract your clients by the ease of use and at the same time provide a high level of security.

There is a wide choice of digital wallets out there, suitable for any device and working in most countries and with all major banks:

There are myriads of payment processing apps to choose from, with Google Pay and Apple Pay being the most trending right now.

To shed more light on the way to implement Google Pay in your online store, we’ve interviewed Vlad Petrov, the senior developer of X-Payments.

2. In-Сhat Payments

This option has also evolved along with mobile commerce. Omni-channel commerce, to be precise.

eCommerce merchants have been using messengers to communicate with their clients and provide assistance for a while now. Why not let them pay right there?

A few messengers provide this option. For example, WeChat accounts for as much as 40% of mobile transactions in China. It allows sending a payment link or a QR code to accept payments right there right now.

At the latest F8 conference, Facebook announced its decision to add in-chat payment functionality to Messenger. WhatsApp is to join the family of in-chat payment options soon, too.

3. Cryptocurrency

First of all, let’s define cryptocurrency. It is a digital currency that is created and handled with the help of advanced encryption techniques, or cryptography.

Before Bitcoin was created back in 2009, cryptocurrency used to be a mere academic concept with no practical use whatsoever. But things changed later on, when Bitcoin grew in popularity and new cryptocurrencies evolved.

Even though it was launched 10 years ago, we can’t say it’s widely popular in eCommerce. On the one hand, cryptocurrency is independent of banks. But on the other hand, it is independent of banks! Yes, ironically enough, the problem with cryptocurrency is the same thing that makes it so special.

Being issued collectively by a network, Bitcoin is not affected by government manipulation. But on the other hand, there is no central authority ensuring things run smoothly.

4. Other Payment Methods

It has always been true that frictionless checkout experiences benefit conversion rates. In 2022, customers won’t just expect a seamless checkout, they’ll want it with exactly their preferred method of payment. 

The biggest eCommerce trend in payments this year will be just how many ways to pay there are. From ACH transfers, to eWallets, to direct credit card payments, the ways to exchange money are endless.  

For a deep dive of where the industry is headed, read our analysis of payment processing trends.

To Sum Up

eCommerce isn’t going anywhere. This year, the industry continued to grow as it responded to a world where more people shop from home.

Indeed, the 2022 eCommerce trends speak volumes about the type of experience that consumers are looking for. Instead of going back to brick and mortar stores, shoppers use tools like social commerce, AR, and voice search to connect with online brands on their terms.

Shoppers are looking for vendors that can provide integrated, multi-channel shopping experiences digitally. If you’re looking to succeed in eCommerce in 2022, subscribe to our newsletter to get regular updates on tips & tricks.

Helen Golubeva
Helen Golubeva SEO and Content Marketing Specialist at Seller Labs

Helen is an SEO and Content Marketing Specialist at X-Cart, a Seller Labs company. She has been creating and planning content for over 10 years, with 5+ years specializing in eCommerce.

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