eCommerce Trends 2022: What To Expect in a Rapidly Growing Market

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by: Holly Kuldell12/10/2021

Quick Summary The pace of change has always been rapid in the eCommerce sector, but the pandemic has accelerated this process by driving both unprecedented growth and boosts to user experience.


For many consumers, these developments in the online shopping experience are obvious. In-person retail visits have now taken a backseat to digital browsing. On a larger scale, however, the transformation of eCommerce can be seen in data from 2020 and 2021. For example, United States eCommerce sales shot up a shocking 39% year-over-year between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021. 

While it would be difficult to exceed the unprecedented eCommerce growth that took place during early pandemic lockdowns, experts still anticipate that eCommerce will continue to thrive in 2022. Projections from Statista suggest that the eCommerce market will approach $46 billion in 2022, compared to $37 billion in 2021. 

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The continued rise in eCommerce will be made possible, in part, by the integration of AI and other advanced solutions. This, in turn, will also help to spur quicker growth. The result is an upward spiral of eCommerce success. 

If you thought the pace of change was dizzying in 2020 and 2021, just wait. eCommerce weaknesses unveiled during the early pandemic are about to be eradicated. Gaining an edge in this quickly moving market means using the latest technological developments to drive the best possible user experience. To that end, here are a few of the most noteworthy eCommerce trends 2022 will deliver.

Personalization

Modern consumers love the convenience of online shopping but miss many aspects of in-person interactions. This concern can be overcome with help from personalized outreach, which makes customers feel appreciated. Many businesses have already built personalization into email marketing — but in 2022, this essential tactic will be integrated into every form of messaging. 

SMS marketing represents a clear area of opportunity, but it — even more than email — must be curated to ensure that customers only receive messages they find both relevant and compelling. As with personalized marketing emails, SMS messages should include the recipient's name and be sent based on stated preferences for timing and content style.

In 2022, eCommerce personalization efforts will increasingly be built into websites For example, retailers can use surveys on landing pages to help customers find relevant products. Information gathered from these surveys can be called on for further personalization efforts with emails or SMS messages.

Other compelling opportunities for eCommerce personalization include checkout and payment methods developed with the consumer's unique circumstances in mind. This option is already offered with the payment solution Klarna, which delivers instant financing decisions that include personalized offers.

More Sales Channels

At one time, some businesses preferred a streamlined approach to eCommerce, complete with just a few sales channels to simplify the process. These days, however, this approach can be quite limiting. Consumers want the convenience of purchasing items via several different methods. 

What's the easiest way to accommodate these demanding consumers? Add a few extra sales channels. Begin with social media solutions such as Facebook or Instagram. Both provide excellent direct-to-consumer functionality, which drives conversions at the point of brand or product discovery. Selling on social media can be streamlined with help from targeted solutions such as tagged products. Make the most of social media trends to drive both initial interest and swift conversions.

Shopify is a top resource for businesses looking to add extra sales channels without spreading themselves too thin. Top options available via Shopify include not only social media partners but also Amazon, eBay, Walmart Marketplace, and even Google. Shopify also provides access to a wholesale marketplace known as the Handshake Marketplace, where high-quality products can be purchased directly from creators. 

Following a significant boost between 2019 and 2020, multichannel eCommerce will begin to plateau in 2022 but major growth is still expected. By 2023, experts at Insider Intelligence anticipate that multichannel eCommerce sales will reach $575.62 billion, compared to $351.23 billion in 2020.

AI Shopping

Artificial intelligence will become a critical part of the online shopping experience in 2022. While major online retailers — such as Amazon — have relied on certain AI solutions for years, its reach will now extend to smaller businesses. This change removes one of the key advantages tech behemoths previously held over the little guy.

In 2022, AI will serve many functions in the eCommerce world. It will enable an impressive degree of efficiency by taking over repetitive and mundane tasks, thereby producing an astounding return on investment. It will also influence many of the consumer experience initiatives highlighted elsewhere in this guide, such as virtual shopping assistants and website personalization.

Product discovery represents a key area of potential within the AI-driven market of tomorrow. Many businesses favor the product discovery platform Syte, which draws on the power of visual AI to help customers find products according to their own unique needs and interests. Advanced options such as camera searches and recommendation carousels make it easier than ever for shoppers to discover products they find enticing. 

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Voice Shopping

Consumers' preference for convenient online shopping solutions remains consistent, but how they hunt for products is quickly evolving. Previously, most were content to use their smartphones to type text-based queries. Now, however, many prefer the accessibility of voice search, which limits the need to hunt for specific keys. 

Moving forward, companies that fail to accommodate voice search will miss out on traffic from a growing segment of the consumer population. Already in 2018, over 27% of global online users completed voice searches on mobile, as revealed in the Voice Search Insight Report. Additional insights from GlobalWebIndex suggest that groceries will serve as the "gateway to drive voice commerce," especially as these purchases tend to require less research. 

While voice search is currently most popular for groceries and fast food, its takeover will quickly encompass other sectors or niches, such as home goods or electronics. Research from PwC reveals that although just 3% of users have purchased clothing via voice search thus far, 22% would consider doing so in the future. 

An area of opportunity revealed by PwC is the possible expansion of voice shopping beyond the home to allow for easier browsing on the go. While most consumers currently prefer to use voice shopping solutions in private locations, the increased adoption of voice technology may eventually make customers more comfortable with using voice-based opportunities while out in public. 

Convenient Payment Options

Consumers appreciate split eCommerce payment plans, which allow them to divide the total amount of each order across several installments. This is just one of several strategies that bring additional convenience to the payment process, thereby reducing the likelihood of abandoned carts. Other options include:

  • By now, pay later. This short-term approach to financing encourages conversions by allowing customers to — as the tactic's name implies — complete orders on the spot but fulfill payment obligations later on. While some businesses and customers have been taking advantage of this option for years, it will become an expected offering in 2022. Soon, this method will go beyond point-of-sale financing to include creative options such as unused credit — as offered by the promising payment service Splitit. Likewise, Klarna is favored for its "try before you buy" approach that grants customers an extra 30 days before they need to pay.

  • Cryptocurrency payments. Many business owners and consumers previously viewed cryptocurrency with skepticism. That is quickly changing as trusted resources such as PayPal now accept bitcoin for merchant payments. Other big names are also beginning to accommodate cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Smaller businesses are expected to follow suit in the coming year.

  • Split payments between consumers. In response to the popularity of Venmo, major brands are beginning to address shoppers' desire to split payments between multiple people. American Express cardholders, for example, can take advantage of the Amex Send & Split service. This convenient solution allows users with Venmo or PayPal accounts to split purchases via the American Express App. Similar solutions can be expected soon for those who lack American Express cards.

  • Multiple payment methods. Some customers may prefer to pay a certain amount by credit card while reserving the rest for gift cards, PayPal, or even bitcoin. Previously, the entirety of each order needed to be covered with a single method. Soon, however, it will be possible to divide payments based on method — not just installment dates.

Virtual Shopping Assistants

If there was a silver lining to the constant upheaval of 2020 and 2021, it was that consumers discovered the enhanced role that online shopping services could play in their day-to-day lives — especially as a replacement for the tasks we once assumed would take place exclusively in person. 

In 2022, even more opportunities for bringing the best of the in-person experience to eCommerce will emerge. Chief among these are virtual shopping assistants. These can be thought of as live FAQ resources, which appear within chatboxes to provide 24/7 support.

Drawing on the power of natural language processing (NLP), virtual shopping assistants streamline the online purchasing experience by assisting customers with common sources of confusion or concern. These easy-to-use tools can complete a variety of essential tasks, such as:

  • Answer customer questions about products or the online ordering process

  • Make targeted product recommendations

  • Provide enticing coupons or information about special deals

Used effectively, virtual shopping assistants can limit labor costs while dramatically improving the average customer's experience. These tools drive greater conversions and are often able to upsell customers who are already intent on purchasing. In 2022, they won't just be an appreciated component of the eCommerce experience — they'll be expected.

Subscription Services

eCommerce subscriptions existed years ago but have taken off as shoppers seek new sources of at-home novelty and excitement during the pandemic. With subscription boxes comes the opportunity to bring a previously service-oriented model to physical products. Businesses benefit from continuous purchases and improved customer retention.

A wide variety of subscriptions are now available, but they will continue to expand into new niches in 2022. In the coming year, how these subscriptions are secured and maintained will evolve, integrating many of the other trends covered in this article. For example, a greater variety of payment options will allow customers to cover the cost of their subscriptions as they see fit. ReCharge has the ability to help your eCommerce brand start offering subscriptions of any type. 

With these eCommerce subscription enhancements will come not only more subscribers but also more memberships per consumer. This is already evident in 2021, as seen in the recent Subscription Commerce Conversion Index developed by sticky.io and PYMNTS. According to this study, retail box subscribers averaged five subscriptions each as of 2021 Q4. This reflected, on average, the addition of one subscription per consumer since Q3. 

Sustainable Practices

Today's consumers are more eco-conscious than the shoppers of yesteryear. They want to know that the products they purchase have been ethically sourced — and that the carbon footprint associated with their online shopping spree will be minimal. Many will show impressive loyalty to brands they deem sustainable. 

The CGS 2020 Retail and Fashion Sustainability Survey reflects the growing importance of eCommerce sustainability. Of the 2,000 consumers surveyed, over half of U.S. respondents — and 61% from the U.K. — claimed that sustainability was an important factor when making purchases. Additionally, nearly one-third claimed that they would make purchases less frequently or stop using brands altogether if they suspected that sustainability wasn't a top priority for a given company.

Key opportunities for appealing to eco-conscious shoppers include:

  • Using eco-friendly packaging such as recycled cardboard for outer boxes or corrugated bubble wrap instead of styrofoam packing peanuts

  • Opting for local suppliers when sourcing materials

  • Encouraging consumers to select longer shipping times, which use less energy than one or two-day shipping

  • Making information displayed in online product listings as clear as possible to limit energy-wasting returns

  • Communicating sustainable initiatives in social media, email newsletters, and all additional marketing efforts

Summing It Up: A World of Opportunity for eCommerce in 2022

In a time in which so much feels uncertain, eCommerce leaders can take comfort in knowing that all signs point to unmitigated growth for their sector. What's more, eCommerce will continue to bridge the gap between the digital and the real world — bringing joy, convenience, and savings to consumers through the pandemic and beyond.

Reach out to Avex Designs today to discover new opportunities for making the most of the top eCommerce trends for 2022.

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