E-Commerce has long been on the rise, and especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, this rise has been exponential. Each year, the e-commerce market changes under the influence of changing demands and shopping patterns. More and more businesses are shifting online, and the competition is growing each day.
So what can make your business stand out? Which companies are here to stay? All these questions have a straightforward answer. The customer or user is the center of it all. If you manage to prioritize your customers in every possible situation, work in a dedicated manner towards understanding their problems and make efforts to solve them, you will undoubtedly succeed. Therefore, once providing a smooth and customer-centric experience becomes the foundation to your brand, everything else will automatically fall in place.
This core idea is backed by research too. Smooth and hassle-free user journeys include everything from site loading times, the number of products per page, the type of images you use to seamless checkout and much more. Every year, new trends and techniques to improve customer experience keep popping up depending on the demands in the market.
This article will go through some upcoming trends that Shopify stores can refer to, in order to stay ahead in the e-Commerce game.
a) Social Commerce
b) Voice Search for Shopping
c) Improving the Onsite Shopping Experience
d) Augmented Reality
e) Livestream Shopping
f) Leveraging User-Generated Content
g) Chatbots for Customer Service
h) Conversational Commerce
i) Local Stores and Local Delivery
j) Omni-Channel Selling
k) Mobile E-Commerce
l) Video Marketing
m) Buy Now Pay Later
n) The Final Takeaway
If you are a frequent social media user, you might have noticed various Instagram and Facebook stores where you can directly check out from the platform. This is possible through social commerce. Now, what exactly is social commerce? It is the process of leveraging social media and networking websites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc., to sell products.
The sole reason for social commerce to rise as a trend is the increased number of social media users. According to a study from Backlinko, 4.48 billion people currently use social media worldwide. So naturally, business owners leveraged this fact to their advantage and started social media advertising. But markets evolved as per people’s demands, and so did social media marketing. Now, customers can directly buy what they see on a social media advertisement. Simply put - like what you see? Buy it directly from here, with no redirects to an app or website. Users could now directly checkout from the social media platform.
While there are many uncertainties in the e-Commerce business, one thing we know for sure is that social media is only going to grow. The platforms may vary with time, but people will keep using these networks in one or the other form. Researchers have predicted the social commerce market sales in the US to grow up to $79.64 billion by the year 2025. According to a study from sprout social, 73% of businesses have already started social commerce, and 79% will implement it in the next three years. So if you want to stay ahead of the competition, it’s better to include social commerce in your marketing strategies.
Did you know that 71% of consumers prefer voice searches over typing their queries? Having to reach out to your phone and type your query manually is a thing of the past. Who would want to do that when you can just say “Hey Google” or “Hey Siri” and see the results? Call it a result of technical advances or simply human laziness, but the voice-assistant-search market is expected to touch $4 billion mark in 2022 and around 7.30 billion by 2025.
The pandemic also boosted the usage of voice searches due to two main factors. First, to avoid multiple people touching the same device and infecting each other and second, well, they were at home, bored, so the most common voice commands were either for music or news. Now, we can very reasonably expect that extending the voice search feature for e-Commerce stores would most likely be the next step. The earlier you tap into this opportunity and start working on it, the better it would be for your business. Smooth searches also significantly contribute to a smooth customer experience, eventually leading to more conversions.
Phebi, on the Shopify store simplifies voice-enabled search with ready-to-use, advanced features to provide your customers a hassle-free shopping experience. Accessible on all modern desktop browsers, iOS and Android, Phebi is a great way to drive sales and conversion through voice search. How does it work? It indexes your site and creates a customized audio and text database that appears on your site as well as the Shopify inventory system. Watch what Phebi can do for businesses here.
3. Improving the On-site Shopping Experience
A user’s perception of an e-Commerce website depends on many factors. These factors include website design, accessibility of products, product filters, easy search, checkout screen, product descriptions, customer reviews, available payment methods and much more. Those brands that plan and create their e-Commerce store to provide the ultimate shopping experience will always get more conversions than those who don’t. Businesses that start small value the importance of this and scale higher up with consumers if they include customizations as part of their site.
Giving your customers a hands-on feel of your product is going to be one of the main focuses of e-Commerce store owners in 2022, and so, here are some tips and tricks for you to help with that.
Here’s a simple thought. Everybody has an image and description of the exact product they want before they start their shopping journey. Every customer is different, has a unique choice of his own and is looking for something very specific.
You can’t possibly know what each customer would want out of thousands of products you’re offering but you can niche it down for them to limited, specific options. How? Personalized search filters. Yes, you heard that right. Who can better tell you what a customer wants than the customer themselves?
Put forth a small survey for when a customer lands on your website. Ask them questions about what they are looking for, what color, the material they want, what problem they are trying to solve etc. Through the answers a user inputs, you can specify the type of products the user would like.
Show recommendations of products that can be purchased along with the product a customer is viewing or create a ”continue shopping” or “recently viewed” segment where a user can see what they were looking for and continue where they left off. A good example of this is Bandier. The brand shows suggestions of recommended products when a user is viewing something. For example, if you’re looking for a T-shirt, you will see recommendations for shoes and pants.
Another great example is Spotify. The global music platform uses information from a user’s previously played songs, artists and playlists to create song and playlist suggestions. One of the most popular things about Spotify is Discover Weekly, a unique playlist created for the user based on the type of music they have been listening to recently.
Besides this, personalization in marketing strategies in the form of emails and messages is also becoming very common and most businesses will start working towards creating a personalized brand experience.
E-Commerce is not just limited to clothing or gadget stores. You can sell everything from vases to furniture and mattresses. While you may be able to get an idea of the material and quality of the product through product descriptions, you have no way of knowing how it will look on you (or in your room, in case it’s furniture).
Many brands are already using augmented reality tools to provide their customers with a near-life product experience. It is predicted that in 2022, AR will be used at least once a month by 101.6 million users. An excellent example of one of the brands that are already using this strategy in their e-Commerce stores is IKEA. The brand has an augmented reality app called IKEA PLACE that allows the customers to check and see how a piece of furniture will look in a certain space. All a user has to do is take a picture of the place where you want to put the furniture, the app will measure the space and provide recommendations for the furniture that fits and looks the best in that place.
The app is currently only available on the Apple store and uses Apple’s augmented reality technology to work. Many people have downloaded the app just on an experimentation basis but either way, IKEA managed to get a lot of users to check out their products. So the next time they are looking for a piece of furniture, IKEA would cross their mind.
India-based Lenskart, an eyewear business that started small, included AI as part of their site to help customers virtually try on each and every one of their frames, thus giving customers a number of options to choose from.
Beauty and apparel brands like Sephora and Nike have also launched such apps to provide a near-life shopping experience to their customers so they never get a lipstick shade or a shoe size wrong. This will also reduce the number of customer complaints, returns and exchanges. Many other brands and businesses are working on including similar technologies as part of their online shopping experience.
If you have heard of influencer marketing, then it would be safe to say that livestream shopping is a step further on the same path. It is a well-blended mixture of social commerce and influencer marketing.
An influencer or brand highlights products and services on a livestream, talking about the product and their experience with it. During this live stream, the people who join are able to interact with the online streamer and with other participants. They can discuss their experiences with the product if they have already used it and get to know the pros and cons in case they are planning to buy it.
Brands run livestreams because it helps them discover what questions can people ask about their products and how can they answer them.
With the live discussion, it feels like an in-store shopping experience because you can directly interact with the selling party. The whole point is to make the shopping experience as close to in-store shopping as possible and answer all the questions a customer may have about your brand.
This is also a trend that most businesses will implement in 2022 so their customers can be more confident while buying something.
A customer will always believe a review from a fellow customer over any marketing campaign or advertisement. This is why brands like Matcha are trying to encourage their customers to create content around their products and share them on social platforms so people can see how the product looks and works in different settings. It also acts as social proof of your products and encourages more people to buy from you. Use this content in your ads and marketing campaigns to encourage even more people to create content around your products.
Brands are getting smarter and realizing how impactful user-generated content can be. If you are wondering how you can leverage user-generated content to boost sales and retain customers, check out our guide to UGC here.
Stimulating Conversations Around Your Brand to Amplify Reach
Today, we have found an AI replacement for almost everything, including customer service. Chatbots are no longer a fantasy. Many (in fact, most), online businesses are already using chatbots for answering their customer complaints and issues. Customer service is a big part of any business, especially in e-Commerce businesses. How well you handle customer complaints and queries highly affects a user perception of your brand. With the rise in e-Commerce businesses, recent years have seen a major rise in the usage of chatbots. In fact, nearly 80% of businesses are expected to integrate chatbots in 2022.
Chatbots can be used for many other things besides answering customer complaints. You can collect individual feedback from customers who use the bot or for conversational commerce and show them product recommendations based on their recent purchases.
Chatbots may sound like a big investment at first, but they are worth investing in. In the long run, they save you a lot of time and money that would be invested in setting up a customer support team and paying customer support individuals.
Pro Tip: If you are looking for an expert chatbot service on the Shopify store, that can offer both live chat and helpdesk services, then Gorgias is a great option. It integrates with some of the best plug-ins to offer seamless customer service experience with a single helpdesk for all types of enquiries and customer chats.
Another interesting one is Delight Chat, which integrates Facebook Messenger, Instagram and other social apps onto a unified inbox to be able to view and respond to queries on the go. It is also great for Whatsapp Business Accounts and offers an official WhatsApp Business API phone number, which can be used for support and marketing.
Conversational commerce, as the name suggests, is the process of selling products through an interactive conversation platform such as a chatbot. Customers can directly converse with a brand, inquire about a product and buy it directly from there.
The future of e-Commerce is mostly about personalization and getting the customers as close to an in-store shopping experience as possible. Conversational commerce is a lot more like a customer is conversing with you directly, telling you what they want and you show them related products, deals and offers.
Missguided is one such store that offers conversational commerce on Instagram. Another example is Gymshark. The athletic clothing brand uses a messenger bot to inform customers about their order status and help them with product issues. Customers can directly chat with the messenger and even conduct returns and exchanges.
Gorgias, on the Shopify app store uses macros with a combination of variables like order status to retrieve previous information and cut down time taken.
Manychat is another great app that uses automated functions to resolve customer queries quickly.
As customers become more aware, they become conscious about supporting local businesses. So if you have a local bakery or a handwoven scarfs store, you might want to set up an online store for that to attract more customers.
Local delivery is an aspect that is fast-gaining momentum too. We all hate waiting on orders, right? As soon as they place the order, customers are eager for their items to arrive. Local delivery makes it possible by connecting you with nearby local stores and providing 1-2 day delivery services. Customers can place an order online and choose between home delivery or in-store pick-up. While some studies suggest that the future of online delivery will soon be combined with demand for more sustainable ways of getting it done (emphasis on lower carbon emissions and delivery partner well-being etc), every store continues to divulge into offering customers the fastest and most seamless delivery experience with their brand.
Zapiet is great for local delivery as it smoothens out local delivery for Shopify brands by taking care of the entire store pickup and delivery. Its features for real-time tracking and unique pricing takes the hassle out of the process and are proven to work for all kinds of clients worldwide.
And for all those businesses looking to leverage on last mile delivery, Onfleet is your go-to application to optimize delivery across various routes and ensure real-time visibility on the entire end-to-end process.
If you want to know how to add local delivery to your store, check out our guide to add delivery to your store.
Omni-channel selling means leveraging multiple platforms to sell products and services. Today, there are hundreds of platforms to advertise and sell a product. Some people might say that focusing on a single platform and diverting all your traffic on that platform would be better than distributing the focus on multiple platforms. This argument may have been true four years ago, but with the rise in social media usage and the positive response to social commerce, it’s almost like blowing your chances at increasing your sales.
Recent stats show that nearly 85% of customers are not willing to buy an item unless they see it multiple times on various platforms and people. After all, that’s what makes it trending and in demand. Another study shows that 37% of users use social media platforms to search for products, services and brands.
With features like Facebook and Instagram shopping, most companies will start leveraging omni-channel selling to advertise and sell their products. Your audience can be present on any platform, so why not discover the platform and let them discover you!
Mobile commerce or M-commerce makes it easier for people to shop on their mobile phones. Research shows that 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile devices. This is not surprising considering we use mobile phones for nearly one third of our day. Not only does mobile commerce make it easier for the customer to shop but it also opens a new way for the brands to connect to the customers i.e. SMS. Not only does m commerce help you reach a wider audience but also retain your customers using SMS and notification reminders and enable location-based personalization for customers.
SMS-Marketing expert Attentive is booming, because customers are buying. Offers a wide range of features to help brands reach out to their target audience in creative, innovative ways.
13. Video Marketing
Videos are taking over the internet. Not only are they more entertaining and engaging, but informative too. Whatever you can explain in words or pictures, you can explain better with a video. This is the reason why video advertising was started in the first place. According to a survey conducted by Statista, 60% of respondents said they were planning to increase their video budget in 2022, out of which 24% said they would increase it by more than nine percent.
For e-Commerce, where brands are trying to provide detailed descriptions of products and services for their customers, videos have proven to be very useful. They can now shoot a video of the product in different settings and help customers take buying decisions. Plus it’s easier to just watch the product in action and get an idea of how it looks rather than having to read lengthy product descriptions.
You can create product explainer videos, how to videos, add video testimonials from customers and much more. Videos eliminate the guesswork by simply capturing the product in action. Thus, we can conclude that video marketing will continue to flourish in the upcoming year.
Conversion of Product Listings into Short Informational Videos on Vimeo
Futuristic shopping experiences are all about generating confidence in the brand while customers make a purchase and ensuring that they enjoy the cumulative shopping experience.
Buy Now, Pay Later method allows users to pay for the products in small periodic installments. These agreements are usually interest-free, making them even more appealing.
The best part about this method is that the user can see and feel the product in real life before paying the total amount for it. This method gives them an opportunity to test and ensure that they are satisfied with the products. It is expected to be one of the most common e-Commerce trends in 2022.
E-Commerce is slowly shaping the B2C world for many more years to come and keeping pace with changes in the marketplace can help brands understand customer demands better, thereby helping them deliver relevant products and services in the here and now. ‘Innovating with the future’ continues to remain the buzzword here and we hope these trends helped you garner insights on how to upscale your brand to the next level.