eCommerce trends 2022: How the Purchase Experience Will Change

What are the trends that eCommerce specialists will have to focus on in 2022? In this article, we will analyse them to understand how to improve the customers’ purchase experience and the fulfillment process.

As we all know very well by now, technology and digitalisation have brought radical changes to practically all aspects of our life, including in terms of trade and purchases. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has further altered consumer shopping habits and experiences. It appears that these changes are here to stay: according to a report recently released by Nasdaq, by 2040 approximately 95% of all purchases will take place on an eCommerce platform or in an online store.

However, online sellers shouldn't rest on their laurels. 2021 had both a positive and a negative impact on eCommerce, due to the global shipping crisis and supply chain bottlenecks. As a result, the past year has seen online retailers step up their efforts to deliver better customer experiences and meet their growing expectations.

Analysing the past allows us to better understand the present and face the future in the best way, so it is not surprising that many online shopping experts have carefully observed the past years and gave suggestions on how to develop an eCommerce. These tips allow you to better understand consumer expectations and prepare to enhance your online business and all related activities, such as customer service, procurement of raw materials and management of the fulfillment processes.

So, let's see what will be the trends for eCommerce in 2022.

1 - The purchase experience will be simpler

The convenience of being able to choose what you want to buy at any time and in any place is what most stimulates online purchases, so you need to ensure that the user experience on the eCommerce platform is quick and intuitive. We already talked about how to optimise an eCommerce, but it is good to remember that the site should be suitable to navigate with a smartphone or tablet.

In addition, the site itself should come to the aid of users. In the period 2020-2021, over half of eCommerce visitors used the chatbot function, a software that allows to chat with an algorithm able to answer users' questions and provide advice and suggestions on where to find all the necessary information.

Chatbots lead us to another essential element: customer support. Although these algorithms can answer questions 24/7, human interaction is still very important when providing help to consumers. Two thirds of users, in fact, told Optoro that they stop buying on an eCommerce following a bad purchase experience. Customer service ensures that everything goes well, from the moment the potential customer comes into contact with the brand up to after-sales activities.

With the increase in the number of online purchases, there will also be a physiological increase in product returns and refund requests. While some may think that complicating these procedures could convince users to desist in their requests (and thus avoid losing money), allowing and simplifying the returns process is actually a great way to build customer loyalty.

In fact, 42% of consumers said that they will not make further purchases on an eCommerce after a negative experience with the management of returns and refund practices, but they are more inclined to turn to a platform with which they have already had positive experiences. Good management of all these activities and good communication will allow you to gain a loyal customer, at the expense of a single, unsuccessful order.

2 - The purchase experience will be more personalised

It goes without saying how much consumer behaviour has changed over the past two years, but it can be useful to understand what clients appreciated the most and propose it again.

One of the most popular factors is certainly the personalisation of the purchase experience. The technological tools available to eCommerce owners make it possible to thoroughly analyse the behaviours and habits of each individual user. Marketing strategies and offerings should take this element into account: sending everyone a generic email is usually a waste of time and resources. Each user must be intercepted during the various stages of the shopping experience with targeted communications and offerings.

For example, Invesp's survey on product recommendations revealed that 49% of customers bought a product they had no intention of buying after receiving a personalised, habits-based recommendation. Data analysis and artificial intelligence are, in fact, one of the main trends of this 2022, not only for eCommerce.

However, privacy could prove to be quite a headache. If data collection and traceability are essential to ensure the most personalised experience possible, these two activities could undergo major changes during the year. Consumers are increasingly sensitive to these issues and lawmakers are acting accordingly. It is therefore better to prioritise first-party data.

3 - The purchase experience will be more engaging

In addition to personalising (and consequently simplifying) the shopping experience, eCommerce sites should also try to create more engaging experiences, in order to establish a deeper connection with their target. Creating a digital purchase experience that includes all the advantages of being physically in the store together with the convenience of online shopping allows you not only to conclude more sales, but also to increase customer loyalty. So, how to do it?

One way to smooth out the differences between the experience in physical stores and the online one is through the use of videos, whether they are made by the brand, entrusted to influencers or generated by customers themselves.

As a matter of fact, users often research product presentations, instructions, explanations and reviews before proceeding with the purchase. A good strategy could include the alternation of explanatory videos with real people and animated ones, in order to help consumers understand the product, obtain information on corporate culture and see how other customers are using it.

Another very effective method to offer the customer an immersive experience, and in some cases even try on the products, is through augmented reality and virtual reality, which allow for a hybridization of shopping experiences. This type of investment, while certainly more expensive than creating a simple video, could help you reduce returns, increase profits and the efficiency of the entire supply chain.

In summary, it is necessary to remove all the potential purchase barriers that the customer may encounter, minimising the difference between in-store purchase and online purchase through video demonstrations, tutorials, live Q&A sessions and also Live Shopping.

4 - The purchase experience will be more social

The link between social media and online commerce reinforced during the past year (also thanks to the pandemic) and experts predict that it will grow further also in 2022. The purchase experience is becoming more and more digital, thanks to the continuous complementarity between websites, apps and social pages.

Both Facebook and Instagram now have a consolidated platform that allows you to buy the products shown in the posts quickly and intuitively. Suffice it to say that 58% of Instagram users are interested in products after seeing them in Instagram Stories. Not only that, but Meta's social networks have recently added some functions to allow brands to provide immediate assistance.

The explosion of TikTok has also opened up new possibilities for social shopping. These platforms allow brands to communicate and interact with their consumers both unidirectionally – via posts and sponsored ads – and in a more personalised way – through single chats with individual users.

There’s also another very common trend that shows no signs of decreasing in popularity: influencer marketing. Having a celebrity as a spokesperson for your brand certainly increases its popularity. However, to ensure a return on investment, it is good to carefully evaluate who to rely on and prefer influencer marketing campaigns involving micro or nano influencers, which usually ensure greater engagement rates with a lower expense.

Reviews will continue to play a very important role too, although not all in the same way. In fact, users are more likely to trust reviews on third-party sites believed to be credible sources (articles from industry blogs, posts on social media and videos on YouTube).

5 - Deliveries will have to be quick

A cornerstone for the future of eCommerce will be delivery speed and the diversification of methods. This means not only providing the customer with more options on how to collect their package (shipping to home or to a specific collection point), but also managing shipments in order to avoid delays.

The Ever-Given accident in the Suez Canal has had a domino effect over the past few months for the entire supply chain. But, without going that far, the shortage of raw materials and the difficulties in managing logistics and transport could cause problems and delays. So, it is good to have several reliable choices and methods available.

6 - B2B eCommerce will experience a fast growth

You should not make the mistake of thinking that everything we have described so far is a prerogative of B2C brands.

The eCommerce aimed at the Business-To-Business sector is rapidly growing in numbers and profit, so much so that many brands previously focused on the end consumer are now differentiating their offerings. There are, in fact, many industries that are entering the world of online commerce, such as healthcare, engineering and finance. The future of B2B eCommerce also looks promising according to Shopify Plus’s B2B trend predictions, with brands that will have to focus on free delivery, augmented reality and, above all, personalisation: B2B customers are customers who need a simple, personalised and engaging purchase experience too.

7 - Fulfillment will play a key role

To understand exactly how important fulfillment is, just think about Digital Commerce data:

  • about 30% of potential customers do not place an order if shipping is not free;

  • about 45% of potential customers do not place an order if they fear that the shipment will not arrive on time;

  • about 20% of potential customers do not place an order if the delivery date is not clearly indicated.

Therefore, the phases of receipt, preparation and shipment of the order - what in jargon we call fulfillment - will be fundamental.

Fulfillment requires economic resources, specific knowledge and time to devote to the most varied activities, from receiving orders to inventory management, from packaging to the preparation of customs documents and, finally, to scheduling shipments. Relying on an external fulfillment service allows you to have highly qualified personnel manage these practices and allows brands to focus exclusively on their products and on building a relationship with the customer.

8 - Sustainability must be a priority

The increase in the environmental awareness of consumers is being reflected and will be reflected more and more also on brands, that are required to have a real sustainable conduct not only in terms of production and packaging (for which less and less plastic is expected), but also in the management of the fulfillment process.

This is clearly a long and challenging process that brands will have to face in a serious and timely manner, otherwise they will lose credibility and reputation.

Having said that, a sustainable approach actually opens up many opportunities: for example, during the check-out phase, users could be given the possibility to choose whether to accept that the shipment of their order takes longer, in order to optimise transport and pollute less. According to Statista, in fact, not only consumers appreciate sustainable products, but also awareness-raising initiatives on the issue.

Summing up

The outbreak of the pandemic made most of the fulfillment operations difficult and 2021 brought further problems in the management of logistics and raw materials. 2022 will likely be a year with many challenges for global shipping and procurement of materials still.

However, eCommerce has witnessed an unprecedented increase in sales and is expected to continue to generate very high profits, especially if it prioritises costumer’s needs and more flexible strategies.

Some of the trends we just described require a long-term effort, as well as a considerable structure and resources. But others can be adopted both by established and younger brands, and we are sure there will be interesting results.