Cassandra Brighter· Author
Last year we published the 5 eCommerce trends to leverage in 2021. The world of eCommerce changes quickly – it’s essential to keep up with the latest trends so that you can capitalize on opportunities for growth. That’s why we keep bringing you the top ecommerce trends every year to maximize your business. Keep in mind that what worked a year ago is still relevant, so we encourage you to read that article too. That said, here are the top 5 eCommerce trends to keep in mind for the remainder of 2022:
1: Subscription Models
By far, one of the most interesting trends to emerge in eCommerce over the last decade or so takes the form of subscription-based businesses. While this is hardly a new idea, especially when you consider the massive change in consumer behavior spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to see why this creates something of a “win-win” situation for both consumers and retailers alike.
One example of this idea is Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” tool. If a customer signs up for recurring deliveries of certain items, they can save money as opposed to purchasing them sporadically. If a customer was a comic book collector, they could have both plastic comic protectors and boards delivered to their home on a weekly or monthly basis. This saves them money when compared to purchasing items manually, while also creating a recurring revenue stream for the retailer at the same time.
The same is true of many grocery stores, especially since the pandemic. A customer can have certain items they know they need – like eggs, milk, etc. – automatically delivered on a schedule of their choosing.
Innovative subscription models are springing up everywhere: Winc is a subscription service for wine; Goldbelly delivers your favorite food from your favorite towns; Barkbox is a subscription for pet toys. MotorEnvy and Avondale Select offer a subscription service for luxury cars.
We’re hoping this wide variety of examples will get you thinking about ways in which your offerings could be presented in a subscription format.
2: Purpose-Driven Brands
A purpose-driven brand is built around a value or set of values. According to a recent study, 63% of customers prefer to purchase from purpose-driven brands.
When customers can relate to the story behind your business, they feel more positive about the products and services that you offer. When a brand’s values resonate with the consumers’ own ideals, the loyalty that customers can express can be boundless.
Examples of brands expressing values can vary in intensity and fervor. Reebok has taken a strong stance for supporting breast cancer research – but that’s not the brand’s key identifier. Toms Shoes goes further – the whole company was built around an ethos of donating shoes in impoverished areas.
Building a purpose-driven company needs to be a sincere core belief. Attempts at pandering run the heavy risk of being sniffed out and heavily sanctioned in the court of public opinion. We only recommend building around a purpose if that’s truly who you really are, and what you truly stand for. That said, if you have a strong belief in improving the environment, or fighting a particular disease, or taking on a social issue, we wholeheartedly recommend making that a visible part of your brand.
3: Emphasizing Sustainability
Emphasizing sustainability can be a great way to make a stand and say “we care about the planet just as much as you do” in the choices you’re making in terms of product packaging, shipping and similar elements. This can prove a major competitive advantage. If a consumer has to choose between two brands – one of which has made it clear that they value environmental friendliness and one that hasn’t – they’ll choose the former the majority of the time.
Evaluate your supply chain, your packaging, your business practices – any area where you could lower your carbon footprint or lessen pollution. Any materials that you can replace with recyclable, biodegradable or earth-friendly materials is worth exploring. Conversely, anything you’re already doing that helps the environment can be fuel for your marketing efforts.
4: Live Shopping
Live shopping leverages video streaming in a way similar to the popular TV shopping channels.
According to Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN, “immersive experiences engage people, make them come back, and make them ultimately want to be inspired to buy.”
In China, live shopping has already taken over. Livestreamers become celebrities. Popular livestreamers are tremendously popular, and can earn millions.
Live shopping provides a guided, directed, immersive experience. Think of it as a tupperware home party on a massive, massive scale. Think also of the late-night tv commercials for gadgets and gizmos that were all the rage in the eighties. A livestreamer needs to have a personality that is a mix between a TikTok influencer and an auctioneer. Without such a magnetic personality, your live shopping is unlikely to catch fire. If you do spot such a personality among your salespeople, it’s definitely worth doing some controlled experiments over social media. We have seen some successful examples on YouTube and Facebook Live, but the place where livestreaming shopping really shines is TikTok.
5: Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented reality provides a relatively seamless interaction between the virtual and the physical. For example, you could point your phone toward a corner of your living room and visualize the easy chair you’re considering for purchase right in that corner of your home. Virtual reality takes it further, and immerses you in a virtual world where you can interact with the item being considered.
AR provides a different type of immersive experience – suitable for the more introverted, introspective shopper. AR allows the consumer to walk into a virtual fitting room, or visualize a piece of furniture in their own room, or make virtual home improvements such as a new roof on their home in the virtual world, thus allowing them to be more surefooted in making their purchasing decisions.
VR and AR are a natural extension of what we’ve always aimed to do with catalog photography and video – to empower the consumer to see their ownership experience.
Subscription formats allow the merchant to offer a different experience to the customer – one of routine, predictability and familiarity. For the merchant, subscriptions mean a much higher chance of repeat business, and an extended customer lifetime value. Sustainability as a focus and purpose-driven brands both appeal to the consumer’s values and ethics, allowing us to feel good about our purchases and creating loyalty to the brands. Live Streaming and AR/VR create immersive experiences akin to spending time in a mall.
Each in their own way, these trends make shopping easier, more satisfying, and give more certainty to the shopper. Not every one of these solutions will be right for your eCommerce efforts. That said, if you find just one or two to be a good fit, they could substantially boost your revenue.
One trend that never goes out of style is listening to your customers. And this is what Bizrate excels at. We can help you easily implement customer experience solutions to truly learn what your shoppers think and feel after engaging with your brand at the point of sale and website.