2021 ushered in a golden era of eCommerce innovation and changes, even against a backdrop of widespread challenges with global supply chains and the continued consumer concerns surrounding the pandemic. Competition has become stiff as eCommerce growth has exploded worldwide. And in this current climate, it is essential to stay on top of online shopping trends as they emerge if you want to stay ahead of the game.
We’ve compiled a list of the top eCommerce trends to watch out for if you want to create an online store in 2022.
7 Top eCommerce Trends in 2022
1. Sustainability Continues to be a Critical Focus
For many years, sustainability has been a hot topic, especially among younger consumers. There is increasing pressure on eCommerce stores to offer sustainable packaging, adopt environmentally-friendly shipping practices, and stock sustainable products in their retail stores. Brands are already transitioning away from plastic and excessive packaging. Many also include information about how products and packaging materials can be recycled or disposed of.
This illustrates a vital consumer need and can become a competitive advantage for smart eCommerce entrepreneurs. The brand TOMS is internationally recognized for its recycled packaging and soy ink. Parts of their shoes are also made with natural hemp, recycled polyester, and organic cotton as part of their bid to be an eco-friendly fashion brand.
One of the biggest trends in online shopping (and sustainability) is upcycling and vintage sales. Businesses that focus on or include the sale of second-hand items are thriving. Poshmark and Depop are just two examples of brands taking advantage of this powerful trend, while Zalando and Ikea added second-hand sections to their brands. Others offer rewards for recycling, trade-in offers, or deals on refurbished items (like Apple and Best Buy).
This extends their appeal to customers and offers them even more (and greener) choices than ever before. With so many new eCommerce stores out there, differentiation might be one of the biggest eCommerce challenges in 2022. Sustainability may give your brand the edge you’ve been looking for.
2. Cryptocurrencies are New Forms of Payment
Calling cryptocurrency one of the latest trends in eCommerce might not be 100% accurate, but it’s indeed becoming more commonplace and acceptable to trade in crypto or exchange goods and services for crypto coins. The banking world has certainly changed its tune - even PayPal and Visa now include cryptocurrency as part of their offering.
Until recently, the only companies accepting cryptocurrency as payment were virtual service providers like domain hosts. Alternatively, you could use an exchange platform to swap your virtual currency for gift cards that could be spent on sites like Amazon.com. Now, online retailers will accept cryptocurrency directly as payment for goods and services.
Luxury car brands like Tesla and Lamborghini accept crypto payments, as do retailers like Home Depot, Newegg, Microsoft, and AT&T. Others accept crypto debit cards. These cards allow cardholders to spend crypto, but the retailer will receive fiat (real world) currency in exchange.
In any event, customers will look for new ways to pay for goods and services, and crypto could set your brand apart from the rest. Considering that online giants like Amazon.com have refused to accept cryptocurrency, this may be a way for you to gain support from a growing base of crypto enthusiasts.
3. Personalization is Key
Customers want a personal experience when they visit your website, not just one-way communication. Like the social shopping trend of 2021, consumers want to know what other shoppers think. Recommendations will continue to come into play, while new technology and machine learning will enable retailers to sharpen the recommendations they make to customers. Customers are far more likely to purchase from companies that offer personalized content, so try to invest in basic personalization tools from the start.
4. Drone Delivery is an Option
Did you see that viral video about a drone delivering a life-saving defibrillator to a man in Sweden? It was one of the first feel-good stories of 2022 and an affirmation that one of the most buzzworthy eCommerce trends of the decade has arrived.
The demand for rapid home delivery escalated in the last few years as younger generations require flexible, reliable delivery. Same-day delivery options continue to expand, with companies turning to the gig economy like Doordash or UberEats to meet the demand without hiring their own fleet.
Still, labor rights have come to the forefront, too. Working conditions for delivery, packing, and logistics workers are under scrutiny, which is why drones may be an excellent alternative. Amazon.com’s Prime Air drone delivery service promises to deliver packages at a cost lower than $1 per package. They’ve already revealed delivery-drone designs and, in 2020, received Federal Aviation Administration permission to assume operations. This will open the door for smaller online stores to follow in their footsteps.
5. Direct to Consumer Sales > Intermediaries
Many large brands were initially caught by surprise by the shift to eCommerce and relied on intermediaries like Amazon and eBay to sell and deliver their products to consumers. Retailers have caught up by now, avoiding resellers and intermediaries altogether. This is known as D2C trading or direct-to-consumer selling. Companies like Nike have stopped using Amazon and eBay because they already have their own stores, connecting directly with their customers for the first time.
While this benefits the retailer (mostly better profit margins), it also speaks to consumer preferences. Customers want close and direct contact with the companies they buy from, especially if things go wrong.
Of course, big brands aren’t the only ones selling directly. eCommerce has leveled the playing field, giving smaller retailers equal exposure and access to consumers. eCommerce website templates make it easier for companies to launch sophisticated, sleek-looking online storefronts without hiring web developers and designers. Anyone can enter the eCommerce game and take the world by storm.
In 2022, we’ll see more brands powering up their eCommerce game and thousands of new brands entering the scene.
6. Metaverse Experiences Have Entered the Chat
One of the key buzzwords trending in 2021 has got to be Metaverse. Meta, formerly Facebook, rebranded in late 2021, and many retailers have strategies to enter the Metaverse in 2022.
A metaverse is a network of 3D worlds and experiences that focus on social connection. Gaming and culture have already fused in many ways. Indoor wayfinding and navigation uses 3D maps and augmented reality to gamify how visitors interact with smart buildings. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts can buy virtual real estate and interact online. Virtual events with 3D maps and videoconferencing blend the on- and offline worlds.
While plans haven’t been released, online retailers will launch products and marketing campaigns in the Metaverse in 2022. AR test drives and fitting rooms will undoubtedly form part of the new experience as cellphones become gateways for 3D experiences. We don’t know what it will look like, but it’s clear that online stores have to start preparing. Creating immersive, mixed media experiences will become very important in the near future.
7. Visual Commerce is the Future
Online shopping experiences have always been highly visual. The graphics you use are the only way customers can “try” the product before purchasing. However, product photos and static visuals aren’t going to take center stage for long.
eCommerce stores will implement user-generated content, interactive visuals, video, and AR to grab consumers’ attention and make the online shopping experience “real.” We’ll likely see virtual trial rooms, AR-driven fit assists, and 3D animated UX interactions leading the way forward.
If you own or want to start an online store, experiment with 360-degree images or videos and introduce visual search tools. You can also curate content from superfans and influencers to boost your online conversion rates. Remember that the images and videos you add should always be optimized for web use to avoid slowing your site speed down.
2022 will see even more significant technological advancement and changing consumer expectations. eCommerce stores that want to compete have to constantly adapt to the new environment, adding new and exciting experiences for their shoppers. While retail giants will lead the way when it comes to innovations like the Metaverse and drone delivery, smaller online stores can start adding rich media experiences to their repertoire.
If you want to enter the eCommerce game in 2022, check out our guide on how to create an online store or browse through our range of beautiful eCommerce templates to get started right away.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from 2021, it’s that you never know when a trend will take off and become the new normal. Always be prepared and don’t delay getting started - you could be the next big thing!