2021 was a lot. The pandemic continued to sweep the world, global supply chains seized up, and Zoom became our best friend. Taking a moment to take stock of things before being swept away by a new world event was almost impossible. Despite this, ecommerce remained consistent – maintaining its upward curve to become the preferred way to shop for more and more people around the world.
But, those twelve months have actually taught us more than we might think. It demonstrated how interrelated and interdependent global commerce markets are. It also created a black through-line in ecommerce, as retail businesses prospered by focusing on their digital presence and new online companies launched and scaled quickly. This shift accelerated technological developments such as augmented and virtual reality, personalised ecommerce (powered by data and automation), and frictionless checkouts.
So, what now? Predicting what’s to come might seem as reliable as gazing into a glass ball, but an assessment of where we are does provide clues as to what happens next. And some trends are the continuation of things that are already delivering success: bespoke experiences, innovative customer incentives, the rise of SaaS companies and more.
The key ecommerce trends in 2022
1. Social commerce will be critical to selling online
TikTok now has a shopping scheme. Facebook is doing more research into shopping behaviour than ever before. Though research by Statista suggests a reluctance to social commerce among European shoppers, it will be interesting to see whether that lasts. And, as more and more companies sell on social media platforms, others won’t want to be left behind. For online retailers, eliminating a step on the customer’s journey helps reduce the chance they abandon their cart. For shoppers, buying becomes more straightforward than ever. Win-win.
2. Borders will become even less significant
Cross-border commerce is nothing new, but its growth rate is still soaring. Ernst & Young says that cross-border payments will top €156tn in 2022, while a Visa GME study found that 87% of ecommerce executives see cross-border sales as their biggest future growth driver. The potential is obvious, and consumer demand will shape the future, including the accessibility of mobile phones and online payments. Offering localised payment options will become more critical than ever.
3. Sustainability will lead consumer choice
The conversation isn’t new, but it’s now more urgent than ever before. In fact, sustainability is already moving to the top of the agenda for shoppers, with research by L.E.K. Consulting discovering that around 75% of brands selling packaged goods had set sustainability goals for 2025. That will result in new materials, new selling models and more opportunities to sell secondhand goods. For businesses, sustainable shipping and packing will be more critical than ever.
4. Buy Now, Pay Later will be more popular than ever
Online purchases using flexible payment options like Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) were used by 60% of global consumers in the past year, and Black Friday payments using BNPL methods with Mollie more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. The payment method’s rise is also likely to have more of an effect on how a company markets its products, in that they can offer different payment terms to instil confidence to buy. It will also result in more BNPL providers, and even providers that specialise in one or a set of product categories.
5. Conversational commerce will improve customer experiences
As technology advances and cutting-edge tools become more accessible to smaller firms, conversational commerce – or the approach where retailers use social tools to sell products and services – will become more commonplace. Chatbot technology is now highly advanced, with Alibaba’s AliMe answering 300m enquiries – or 97% – of customer services enquiries in just one day last year. By responding to customer enquiries quickly and efficiently, you create brand trust. Interactive elements like quizzes can also help online retailers personalise the shopping experience. For more, see our guide on creating a personalised ecommerce experience.
6. Voice shopping will get us talking
Almost half of the world’s population (3.25 billion people) has access to voice-assisted search devices, and 43% of those who regularly use their voice assistants do so for shopping. By empowering your shop with voice commerce, you can become part of your customers’ furniture and allow them to make purchases from the comfort of their living room.
7. 5G will finally make an impact
It’s easy to be cynical about 5G. The promise of super-fast mobile broadband doesn’t correlate with the present-day experience of trying to find a mobile signal when you’re out in the countryside or at a large-scale event (perhaps a less pressing concern in recent times). But, it’s safe to say that the accelerating rollout of 5G will impact ecommerce and propel the already-growing adoption of mobile commerce worldwide.
8. The Metaverse will be more than memes
The memes were great, but the idea behind them was also interesting. And it seems that the Metaverse – or a collective virtual space where communities can meet and interact online – is closer than ever before. And, if it’s going mainstream, the opportunity for retailers could be huge. After all, imagine being able to test out a sofa in a simulacrum of your living room, seeing how it looks in different colours and styles. The impact on how we shop is imaginable, and it could be huge.
Making the most of the new in ecommerce
Things are changing quickly in ecommerce. And, when everything is so uncertain, it’s clear that people working in the industry need to keep an eye on world events and developments in the digital economy and digital culture. But there are several things that online retailers can do to thrive in this new normal. For now, you don’t need a crystal ball to tell you that innovating to deliver a great product and customer experience will always lead to success.
At Mollie, our aim is to help businesses of all sizes to grow. We do that with an effortless payment product that offers easy onboarding, honest pricing and all leading payment methods for the best localised experience and conversion. Find out more about payments with Mollie, or see more tips to grow your business.