By Peter Rankin, UK Sales Director at Lengow
Ecommerce has undergone a serious boost for cross-border online sales over the past two years. The industry saw strong growth while having to completely adjust to changing consumer behaviour. Consumers flocked online and turned to for their purchases. Within the EU, retailers saw record growth in online cross-border sales, led by marketplaces, which account for 58% of the total turnover generated by ecommerce in Europe.
About 80% of consumers now consider the landscape to be ‘phygital’: technology bridges the gap between the digital and physical retail worlds. Ecommerce sales are expected to reach $6,388 billion by 2024, so let’s take a closer look at the trends that will mark 2022 and beyond, likely bringing about the next generation of ecommerce.
2022: The Social Commerce Era
Many people will already be familiar with two closely related trends: Social Commerce and Live Commerce. While these terms are not new (we have been hearing about them for several years now), 2022 is where we will see the actual breakthrough, driven by Gen Z and Millennials. Statistics bear this out, with the number of social commerce buyers in the U.S. nearly doubling between 2018 (pre-pandemic) and 2021 (during and post-pandemic). Moreover, a whopping 86% growth was seen in Europe in terms of live stream shoppers last year.
Social media shopping is set to be worth $1.2 trillion globally within the next three years. All the signs point towards the same direction: this trend is real and should be seriously considered by brands and retailers in 2022.
Those who don’t (yet) have a strategy for TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, and co. will be left behind. It’s no longer just about promoting your brand or pushing your products, but about creating an engaging and meaningful cross-channel shopping experience for consumers.
A potentially key ingredient for a successful omnichannel strategy, social commerce represents an opportunity for brands and retailers to create direct relationships and personalised shopping experiences for their customers.
“Commerce Everywhere” and on the customers’ terms
Today, successful brands know that it is essential to be present in every possible shopping moment, and do this as optimally and efficiently as possible. To do so, expertise and a solid technical foundation for personalised omnichannel activities are required. Brands must meet the consumer where they want, when they want, and all this on the consumer’s terms: consumers are more demanding than ever before.
So, what does this mean for brands? Complicated workflows, which need to be backed up by intelligent integrated marketing strategies. Technical know-how and skills are required here in order to succeed.
A balancing act: Sustainable initiatives to future proof “Commerce Anywhere”
Let’s tread carefully, though – “Commerce Anywhere” should be achieved with balance. Rather than pushing for hyper-consumerism (driven by new payment trends such as “Buy Now, Pay Later”), we need to add sustainability into the mix. Without sustainable practices in the equation, “Commerce Anywhere” is not future-proof.
The industry should look at how processes can be changed and adapted to be sustainable and environmentally friendly – even more so than before. We’re talking materials used, environmentally friendly deliveries, optimised, bundled solutions, even circular e-commerce.
Lengow, for example, can help to reduce return rates by collecting feedback data and using it to improve your product catalogue. Bear in mind that 22% of buyers return a product because it doesn’t match the description. 23% return products because the wrong item was shipped to them. We don’t need to say it twice: optimisation is key here…This is how the future will play out.
The metaverse: 3D ecommerce worth $8 trillion
Morgan Stanley calculated that in 2021, the metaverse market represented $8 trillion. Consumer are demonstrating a clear appetite for a 3D ecommerce world, and increasingly immersive shopping experiences. Impressive statistics from Shopify, show that products sold online that use 3D and AR technology have a 94% higher conversion rate.
The metaverse is bringing about this 3D retail world in a big way, and quickly. Digitally shared worlds enabling interactions between virtual inhabitants (often with the help of avatars) will bring unexpected opportunities for commerce in the long run. The fashion industry has already made its first attempts at metaverse commerce. For example, some brands including Gucci, Balenciaga and Ralph Lauren have offered digital collections for purchase, predominantly in video games or online social platforms.
Finally, the metaverse means gamification. The virtual worlds in 3D video games, and gamified social networks, are forcing brands to look here. Strong content strategies are required here; the way you present your products in these universes is crucial.
While it will still be a while before the metaverse brings us the next generation of ecommerce, it’s best to get thinking about it now… Early indications show huge market potential, and let’s bear in mind that developing and implementing three-dimensional ecommerce experiences requires some real expertise.
Take-aways: Bulletproof your ecommerce strategy
To prepare for the Next Generation of ecommerce, you must ask some key questions:
Is the Commerce Management System I’m using future-proof?
Is my feed manager sustainable?
Replatforming is sometimes helpful to accelerate the automation of critical and agile retail operations. It all comes down to the timely selection of the right technology to deliver the ecommerce features you need.
Also, it can’t be stressed enough: data is your key to success. Brands and retailers must act in a more data-driven way than ever before!