For obvious reasons, most of us have become a lot more comfortable with online shopping over the last couple of years.
And one of the most interesting aspects of this change in behaviour has been the reaction of eCommerce retailers. Savvy businesses are moving on from the ‘same old’ static product pages on their sales platforms. Increasingly, they’re looking at things like 3D imagery, chatbots, and the power of social to significantly enhance the customer experience.
Here’s a closer look at how and why customer behaviour and expectations have evolved, and at the top eCommerce trends that look set to shape 2022…
Why is eCommerce on the rise?
Back in 2018, Android users spent a total of 48.7 billion hours in retail apps. By 2021, that figure had increased to 100 billion hours.
According to one survey of global consumers last year, 70% now consider online marketplaces ‘the most convenient way to shop’.
Meanwhile, almost half of all UK non-food sales took place online last year, representing double-digit year-on-year growth.
Pre-Covid, eCommerce was already on the rise. However, it’s clear that the pandemic has supercharged that growth. Whereas a couple of years ago, your target customer might have headed online occasionally for ‘bits and pieces’; they are now much more likely to use eCommerce - especially via mobile - as their go-to shopping option.
It’s easy, convenient - and particularly while Covid is still very much with us - it’s also seen as the safe option. The rapid growth of the industry means that it is crucial that sustainability should be at the forefront of a brand’s mind in planning an eCommerce strategy.
But at the same time, credit also has to be given to eCommerce businesses themselves. The most forward-thinking companies out there are not trying to create an exact replica of the in-store experience. Rather, they are using the potential of digital to create something different, and in many respects, better.
These trends help illustrate this…
Trend 1 - AR Commerce
Great visuals sell products. This is why you invest in good-quality product images for your eCommerce site.
So let’s take the example of a furniture retailer. Really nice images might be just the starting point. The retailer’s app allows the customer to capture images of their living room and then drag and drop furniture into it, play around with room layout, switch colours and styles, and so on…
This is augmented reality (AR) in action. Using highly accurate 3D images of products, enables customers to experience those products in context. From apparel and cosmetics to big-ticket items for the home, it’s exactly the type of eCommerce website or app feature that encourages customers to make buying decisions with confidence.
Trend 2 - Visual Commerce
Even if augmented reality isn’t a natural fit for your brand, you should still be thinking carefully about the visuals you present, and how these influence buyer behaviour.
The most effective visual eCommerce strategies directly address the particular concerns of buyers. Take the example of a performance workwear e-store. Buyers will be keen to know if the products are suitable for particular types of environments. So it’s beneficial to integrate imagery of the products actually in use in those environments. And above all; don’t overlook the power of video. Three-quarters of marketers said that the pandemic has made them more likely to create a video. There’s a realisation that as customers spend less time physically viewing products, video is one of the most effective ways of giving them the information they need.
Trend 3 - Conversational commerce
How do you convert someone who’s just browsing - or weighing up their options - into a paying customer?
Often, it’s just a missing snippet of information or inspiration that makes all the difference. Provide an answer quickly, and you’re over the line.
This is where conversational commerce proves especially valuable. It’s where you give customers the opportunity to interact with your brand via chatbot messaging or live chat - or a combination of the two.
One very popular way of doing this involves automated messages for simple queries, product recommendations and offering deals, integrated with live chat for more complex queries.
In 2022, the vast majority of customers expect instant answers to questions. Boosting your conversational commerce capabilities can go a long way in meeting these expectations.
Trend 4 - Social commerce
Back in 2020, the total value of goods and services sold directly over social media was around $90 billion. By 2027, it’s expected to be more than $600 billion.
Focus on the channels where your customers actually spend their time. This is the golden rule of eCommerce - and it’s pretty clear that buyers don’t just want to get inspiration and interact with brands via social, they want to actually buy from you there, too.
If you’re yet to fully explore opportunities such as shoppable Instagram posts, this definitely needs pushing up your to-do list.
Ready to get going with your Ecommerce content plan? Check out more of our articles about content marketing on our blog. To discover how Curated helps eCommerce businesses boost their revenue, speak to us today.