4 E-Commerce Trends to Keep Your Business Competitive in 2022
If there’s one thing consumers want, it’s options. In the increasingly saturated and competitive e-commerce landscape, a person can generally find what they’re looking for across myriad channels, make purchases using their preferred payment method, and receive their orders when and where they choose.
Short of supply chain issues currently thwarting these efficiencies, the possibilities and conveniences that comprise the e-commerce ecosystem will continue to grow. From websites to warehouses, these are some of the latest trends brands and retailers are tapping into to enhance the online customer experience and increase sales.
It’s generally easy for shoppers to find what they’re looking for online, but savvy marketers are using a push-pull strategy to turn that traditional seek-and-find model on its head. Beyond focusing on being found, brands and retailers are finding ways to put products in the driver’s seat, presenting themselves to consumers at the ideal moment in their shopping journey. This approach goes beyond simply meeting expectations; it anticipates needs and delivers.
Like stumbling across a great new musician or restaurant you’ve never heard of — or forgot you knew about — that moment of discovery is powerful. In a global survey conducted by Facebook in December 2020, 63 percent of shoppers reported that they enjoyed discovering items they weren’t actively looking for, making this strategy especially effective leading up to gift-centric occasions. Utilizing audience targeting and other marketing tactics with the right channel mix will make products delightfully discoverable year-round.
Consumers were patient with delayed order shipments from the beginning of the pandemic through the end of 2020, largely because there really wasn’t an alternative. The surge in volume traditional parcel carriers have been experiencing is expected to continue well into 2022. But since those early days, alternate delivery solutions have emerged, in many cases making same-day delivery as ubiquitous as two-day delivery.
To deliver on consumer expectations for fast delivery, the impetus to decentralize inventory has grown. Well-managed, hyperlocal fulfillment operations enable items to remain sufficiently stocked, in the right locations, so they’re as close to the end customer as possible at all times.
The organizational support required for this level of inventory visibility and management often warrants the expertise of a third-party logistics provider that has the software required to seamlessly integrate with supplier and vendor systems. However, there are also APIs and back-office supportive services available to companies with limited technologies and resources that prefer or need to keep operations in-house.
Artificial intelligence-powered chatbot technology is enabling businesses of all sizes to provide more immediate customer support. Not only is this creating opportunities to deliver better customer experiences (87.2 percent of consumers report their experiences with chatbots as neutral or positive), but it’s also enabling companies to gather valuable customer data and insights that can be used to make their experiences even more personal and convenient.
And while this technology can cut down on operational costs, it’s important to note that chatbots aren’t necessarily intended to replace human employees, but rather to complement and inform their service capabilities. For example, bots can help customers outside of normal operating hours and, if needed, connect them to a real person. Again, it comes down to giving consumers options.
Modern Payment Options
According to pymnts.com, 87 percent of consumers ages 22 to 44 want to be able to break up large purchases into monthly installments. Therefore, if the buy now, pay later (BNPL) option isn’t part of your online checkout process, it’s time to think about partnering with providers that allow for installment purchases.
With cost being the most commonly cited reason for cart abandonment — notwithstanding consumers who were simply browsing or not ready to buy — offering installment options can increase the rate of completed purchases and also retain happy customers. Even better, it might encourage them to make additional purchases.
The rapid growth of e-commerce since early 2020 has led to major advances in automation, fulfillment, AI, virtual and augmented reality, and more in the interest of improving the customer experience. To stay competitive, retailers and brands need to stay on top of trends like these that are being designed to accommodate rising consumer expectations.
Maria Haggerty is CEO of Dotcom Distribution, a premier provider of B2C and B2B fulfillment and distribution services.
Related story: Consumer Trends Shaping the Post-Pandemic E-Commerce Landscape
Maria Haggerty is CEO and one of the original founders of Dotcom Distribution, a premier provider of B2C and B2B fulfillment and distribution services. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration from University of Houston, C.T. Bauer College of Business with a concentration in Accounting. Maria plays an integral role in developing and defining all aspects of the business, including sales and marketing, operations, finance and IT. As CEO, she is responsible for providing strategic leadership, establishing long range goals, and developing strategies for the senior leadership team. Maria has developed the systemic and procedural infrastructure necessary to provide timely and accurate analysis of budgets, financial reports and financial trends in order to assist the Board, senior executives and clients in performing their responsibilities while achieving favorable results. She works closely with the leadership team to enhance, develop, and enforce procedures that will improve the overall operation and effectiveness of the corporation. During her tenure at the Dotcom, Maria has developed an environment of continual improvement by supporting the Senior Leadership Team and their department managers on continuous process, space labor, automation, and financial best practices. Prior to founding Dotcom, Maria was a CPA at Arthur Andersen and was later the CFO of GoodTimes Home Video where she helped grow the company’s distribution business. When Maria is not in the office, she enjoys traveling around the world and practicing her photography skills.