Introduction: the boom of eCommerce
When Jeff Bezos unveiled Amazon to the world back in 1994, there were quite a few who doubted the business. Why would anyone want to purchase something online if they could go to a shop a block away? Why would anyone wait days for a product to arrive, when they could buy it within 15 minutes? This new idea of eCommerce and online shopping seemed so far-fetched, but those doubters are the ones shaking their heads now.
Almost 30 years later, eCommerce is at the forefront of business strategy. In 2021 alone, eCommerce platforms accounted for an estimated US$4.9 trillion in global sales revenue, and this number is expected to keep rising over the years.
eCommerce has come a long way since the initial launch of Amazon. It has essentially become a technological revolution that has changed the way all businesses operate. It is not just the convenience of buying goods online that has propelled this industry forward, but also the online infrastructure that has advanced over the years. Despite increasing customer demands and customer expectations, eCommerce businesses are at the forefront of innovation, winning the hearts and minds of consumers’ preferences today.
With rising disposable incomes and reduced costs of phones and the internet, accessing eCommerce stores has never been easier. The use of mobile wallets like GrabPay and Apple Pay has also made paying for goods online a breeze.
Furthermore, there is no denying the impact that the coronavirus has had on the eCommerce industry. With more people staying at home to stay safe, the demand for ordering goods and services online has surged.
Whether you’re a business that sells goods or a freelancer who provides services, eCommerce has changed the game completely. Let’s take a look at the biggest eCommerce trends that you should take advantage of to propel your business growth!
What are the latest eCommerce trends?
eCommerce trends for retail businesses selling goods
Many retail businesses now have their own eCommerce stores
The exponential rise of eCommerce sales in the past two years can largely be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.
With the whole world being in lockdown for months at a time and people staying at home, eCommerce came through as a safe and convenient way for people to buy what they need. This has paved the way for a structural shift in demand and drastic transformation of consumer business models. From previously being an occasional activity, online shopping has now become second nature to many people.
However, it isn’t just Amazon or eBay that have eCommerce sites now.
Many other retail stores have jumped onto the bandwagon, and created their own eCommerce sites for the accepting of online orders. This trend is likely to continue in 2022 and beyond.
Setting up an eCommerce store has never been easier, with a wide range of online store builders available. For example, GoDaddy E-Store helps businesses set up a professional, modern-looking online store and securely accept payment online.
The WooCommerce eCommerce plugin for WordPress is also another popular option. (And GoDaddy offers managed WordPress eCommerce hosting if you need it!)
Greater availability of next-day and same-day delivery
Another reason why people have been shifting to online shopping is the convenience that it offers. Customers can browse through a variety of products and then buy what they need, all from the comfort of their home.
Apart from convenience, customers also demand speed. Next-day or even same-day delivery are now common shipping options. After all, people are impatient and aren’t willing to wait weeks for their order to arrive. Instead, they want their items as soon as possible.
As a result, businesses have had to invest in reliable supply chain logistics to deliver orders safely, punctually and quickly. But in the grander scheme of things, it’s all worth it when satisfied customers make repeat purchases.
Ecommerce trends for freelancers and service providers
Increased demand for freelance services
Some people may think that eCommerce applies only to the selling of goods online. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! eCommerce has created new opportunities for freelancers and service providers as well.
Skills like web design, graphic design and digital marketing, to name a few, are essential in the eCommerce space. To carry out digital commerce, businesses are looking into:
- Building robust websites with attractive user interfaces and user experiences
- Making engaging content that act as lead magnets and bring customers to their store
- Setting up ads to gain some initial traffic to their website.
However, a small business may not have the resources to employ full-time staff for each of these tasks.
This is where freelancers come into the picture, and help businesses build their eCommerce website. The business gets its online store up and running, while the freelancer earns an income online. It’s a win-win situation!
Freelancers and service providers are skipping the middleman, and productising their services
There are many intermediary websites like Fiverr and Upwork that connect freelancers to small businesses. However, many freelancers and service providers have taken the route of building their own websites to market their services. This has allowed them to work with clients without giving a commission to third-party platforms.
Service providers and freelancers are also productising their services.
In other words, they offer standardised project rates instead of providing quotes for custom-scoped work. This helps them avoid much of the back-and-forth negotiations with clients, and close projects more efficiently.
What trends will shape eCommerce in 2022?
As the world learns to live with COVID-19, the behavioural changes that the pandemic has brought upon us are here to stay. More retailers and service providers have become aware of the importance of eCommerce, causing more of them to muscle into the eCommerce space.
To stand out, businesses should leverage new eCommerce trends such as:
1. Omnichannel customer experience
In the 21st century, customers have more than one touchpoint while shopping with brands, and they expect convenience at all stages. Businesses need to present a consistent and convenient customer experience, regardless of whether customers are:
- Shopping on their laptops
- Searching for products on their phone
- Ordering online and then collecting their items at the store, and so on.
The business’ website typically acts as the centre of this experience. Accordingly, businesses need to invest in a modern, feature-packed website that performs well on various device types.
2. Mobile-first marketing
With many consumers now surfing the Web and shopping from their mobile phones, mobile-first marketing has become a must.
This means optimising your marketing efforts for mobile devices, which have much smaller screens than computers. For example, your website should have a responsive design that looks good on all screen sizes (including mobile). You may also want to have larger buttons for easier tapping.
Additionally, your business should establish social media presences if it hasn’t already. After all, scrolling social media is how many people while away the time on their phones. Business owners that double down on social media marketing efforts, taking extra effort to pick the right social media platform, will see brand recognition and returns for their business.
You may even want to take things one step further and custom-build a mobile eCommerce app. Your app could also include push notification functionality for informing customers of order updates and special promotions.
By doing so, you keep your business top of mind. Engaging with customers regularly is the recipe for building customer loyalty, and netting more orders.
3. Shift from traditional retail to direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales
The growth of eCommerce has allowed businesses to sell directly to consumers instead of selling through intermediaries like wholesalers and retailers.
Well-established businesses, such as Nike and Adidas, don’t need to rely on third-party platforms, such as Amazon, to sell to customers. Instead, they can—and have—set up websites for customers to buy from them directly.
Even smaller businesses can get into the DTC game.
With the help of an eCommerce website and social media accounts, businesses can reach hundreds and even thousands of users through their mobile phones. These businesses can then market their wares to potential new customers, while eliminating the middleman entirely.
4. Social commerce
Businesses are now actively using social media to push their products to consumers. Apart from facilitating organic reach, social media platforms have also built user-friendly advertising systems. This has helped businesses to easily place social media ads to reach new audiences, with their ad budget being the only limit.
Influencer marketing has also been on the rise, where businesses sponsor social media influencers to promote products to their followers. By partnering with influencers whose audiences are likely to be interested in the business’ offerings, businesses stand to significantly convert new fans and boost sales.
According to Accenture, social commerce sales are estimated to reach $1.2 trillion by 2025. So if it isn’t clear by now, both organic and paid social media reach will continue to be more important than ever in 2022.
If you’ve been putting it off, start creating social media profiles for your business. After that, strive to consistently post engaging content. By doing so, you can build a captive audience for you to market your products and services.
5. Growth of livestreaming / livestream commerce
Livestreaming has been a fun and innovative trend that has risen exponentially over the last 10 years, with gamers streaming their video game playthroughs on YouTube and Twitch.
In recent years, however, commerce has entered livestreaming to infuse entertainment into the shopping experience.
Livestream shopping was initiated by Alibaba’s Taobao in 2016. Dubbed Taobao Live, the business’ live-stream service made it possible for eCommerce store partners to conduct product launches and stream sales in real time.
Then, if a livestream viewer liked a particular item being sold, they could snag it on the spot.
Even though livestream shopping is still seen as a novelty, this trend of brands livestream selling is on its way to becoming mainstream. These days, it’s possible to buy jewellery, fish and even luxury cars through a live-stream feed! What could your business sell using a simple live-stream setup?
Customers like to be well-catered to and will value your business more if you provide them with a tailored experience. Hence, it is important to invest in technology that helps facilitate this personalised customer journey.
Use tools that allow you to send relevant offers and promotions based on your customers’ search and order histories. By suggesting products that customers are more likely to be interested in, you may entice them into opening their wallets.
Delivering a VIP, personalised experience may also foster goodwill that turns one-off shoppers into long-term customers.
7. Increased demand in certain product categories
As more people work from home due to the pandemic, demand for work-from-home accessories has spiked. Businesses that sell monitors, headsets, ergonomic chairs and the like have enjoyed increased sales.
The pandemic has also made the general population more aware of their health and the lifestyles they lead. Accordingly, people are now more willing to splurge on air purifiers, water filtration systems and other products that promote healthy living.
How to leverage these eCommerce trends for your small business
In 2022, many customers will already have had some form of eCommerce experience. Hence, they will have higher standards when it comes to online shopping.
Customers will want greater convenience and more personalisation in their shopping experience. And if a business doesn’t have what they need, then there is no shortage of other businesses to shop with.
As you run a small business, it is important to capitalise on the emerging trends in the eCommerce industry. The first step to this is creating an eCommerce website if you don’t already have one. As mentioned, GoDaddy offers E-Store and WordPress eCommerce hosting options to smoothen out the process.
Moreover, you should aim to have a consistent online brand presence across all touchpoints, be it your website, social media accounts and so on. Maintain the same brand logos, colour schemes and brand voice across all channels.
You may also need to invest in new equipment as you venture into new trends.
For instance, if you’re getting into live-streaming, then you’ll minimally need a smartphone, tripod, ring light and microphone. These gadgets and gizmos aren’t that expensive, and you can potentially recoup the cost after holding just a few live-streams.
Conclusion: What is the future of eCommerce?
The future of eCommerce has never been brighter. COVID-19 has created a wave of digital acceleration, which will only help the eCommerce industry in the future.
No matter what product you sell, it is crucial to set up your online store in this day and age. Doing so will allow you to reap a plethora of benefits. First, opening an eCommerce store allows you to gain access to a worldwide audience, rather than customers limited to your geographical area. Online shopping is as borderless as you imagine it to be.
Second, online stores never close. They’re available 24/7, allowing you to make sales at any time of the day—even while you’re asleep!
Finally, the flexibility of online stores means that you can easily customise your store’s products according to your customers’ interests. With such a higher degree of personalisation, your store may enjoy more orders and more sales, leading to revenue growth.
Think about how you can leverage social media to increase traffic to your store, or partner with influencers. In addition, look into optimising your store for mobile browsers, and experiment with live-streaming. Finally, you may want to offer more in-demand products based on what’s currently hot in the market.
But the first step is to start building your eCommerce site if you don’t already have one.
On the other hand, you may be planning to expand your eCommerce empire, and sell your wares on the Shopee and Lazada eCommerce platforms. You may also want to offer your website in multiple languages. In either case, the Premium plan will be what you need.
Whether you’re a small business or a freelancer, the time to dip your feet into eCommerce is today! Don’t procrastinate, but make strategic use of this new era of business!