The Trends E-Commerce Experts Are Saying Will Transform the Industry
When e-commerce first emerged more than 40 years ago, there was no telling the impact it would have on buying and selling. While there have been many milestones throughout the history of e-commerce companies—from the launch of online advertising to the boom of online shopping as a result of Covid-19—looking to the future is perhaps the most exciting. The e-commerce market is expected to grow by nearly $11 trillion in the next four years—proving that this truly is just the beginning.
So what can we expect to see in the future? To uncover the trends that are transforming the industry, we tapped into 17 e-commerce experts within the Dreamers & Doers collective. Whether you’re getting your e-commerce startup off the ground or looking to scale your sales, these insights have the potential to supercharge your company in powerful ways.
Founder and CEO of Access79, a technology-enabled, personalized try-before-you-buy service that demystifies purchasing fine jewelry.
Trend alert: During Covid-19, people stopped going to stores, but the demand for luxury consumer goods increased, as people liked the idea of taking their time and shopping from home. We saw a huge growth in our business, in terms of both order volume, which reflects a larger trend in the e-commerce industry. People want the ease, flexibility, safety, and surprise and delight of trying things at home, even expensive things like fine jewelry. I predict high-end recreational equipment will be next, along with other luxury categories like purses and shoes.
My advice: If you’re operating a traditional e-commerce shop, survey your existing customers to see if, where, and how you can incorporate the try-at-home before you buy model. And map out the logistics of implementing this kind of a program, because the experience has to be seamless.
Founder of Lizard Strategy, an e-commerce agency focused on strategy, growth, and engagement.
The trends I see: The democratization of live stream commerce is changing the rules of shopper engagement and conversion. With the ability to launch studio quality content coupled with interactive purchase, even the smallest company or individual can provide their customers with a rich shopping environment. My clients have seen 10 to 20 percent average conversion rates and higher using live commerce no matter what industry they are from, making it a compelling platform for the long term.
My advice: Companies need to think about content first. It’s not just an interactive sales pitch. Those who tune-in to livestreams are looking for a value-add—more background on a product or service, tutorials, demonstrations, or special access. The more engaging and contextually relevant the content is, the higher the engagement and, ultimately, the conversion rate. Iinvest the time and effort into the content programming and layer the commerce opportunities on top of it.
Founder and CEO, PerfectDD, a mission-driven sustainable clothing brand designed to fit and flatter DD+ cups, sizes 0-14.
The trends I see: The biggest trends transforming e-commerce is the desire for authenticity. No longer do customers want to see photoshopped pictures that are unrealistic and unrelatable. This shift is incredible for small businesses as we no longer need expensive equipment or to hire expensive models to get in front of our customers. At PerfectDD, we used this tactic to feature our customers as models and share authentic customer reviews, which has led to a repeat customer rate of over 60 percent.
My advice: Your current customers are your biggest asset. Develop a relationship with them and they will be your biggest brand ambassadors.
Founder of Learn To Make A Product, helping people design, manufacture, and launch their physical product ideas.
Trend alert: People love product explainers that feel like they are coming from a real person. On a recent ad campaign, we had a pet accessory client get four times as many clicks on a DIY video versus their professional photography. That said, the DIY video still made the product look great. The item was in clear view, it wasn't wrinkled, and there were no distracting backgrounds.
My advice: Invest in professional product imagery for your website. You need that to build a foundation. But be more experimental with ad and social content. Give your product to friends and have them make a video, use micro-influencers, or get in front of the camera yourself. There are cheap editors who can help you fine-tune imagery on sites like Fiverr.
Co-Founder and CEO of A Fresh Sip, an alcohol-free beverage platform that simplifies discoverability and accessibility of more than 250 non-alcoholic beverages.
Trend alert: We see integrated purchasing through social media growing significantly in 2022. It's important for direct-to-consumer brands to provide customers with channels outside of their website, on the platforms customers are already using to make online purchases. We have noticed that our customers are increasingly using social media to find answers and solutions. Therefore, conversions to purchase are much higher in those moments where we provide solutions and options in our social media channels.
My advice: Take note of which social media channels your customer base spends most of their time and engage with them in meaningful ways that add value and build trust. If you focus on delivering the value, giving them resources, and answering their most unanswered questions, I guarantee you will see a higher conversion rate.
Agency Owner at Where Digital Goes, a sales-focused digital marketing agency.
Trend alert: Privacy is a hot topic these days, and it's changing how we do business. Companies must adapt their strategies for collecting first-party data. Customer information from sources like a company's CRM, completed onsite purchases, and surveys are now vital and hugely valuable.
My advice: A first-party data strategy and an improved customer experience go hand-in-hand. Brands have an opportunity to take customer data out of silos and start putting it to work toward meaningful, intentional business outcomes. Has your CRM captured birthdays? Your marketing department could use that data to trigger special offers, cross-sells or upsells. It costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep the ones you already have. So instead of focusing on acquisition, businesses have an opportunity to power up their loyalty program and drive ongoing sales.
Founder and CEO of Chuan Skincare, a sustainable natural skincare brand.
Trend alert: Static photos and stagnant content aren't cutting it any more. In order to get consumers' attention, brands need to be engaging, informative and creative. Brands also need to focus on driving conversions across all channels, in order to stop relying so much on email.
My advice: Think outside of the box and push yourself and your team to be creative with your marketing. Try new campaigns or ideas, and be ready to change your plans as trends continue to change. To stay ahead of new trends, run experiments and listen to your customers regularly.
Founder and CEO of Everviolet, creating functional and beautiful intimate apparel for the special needs of women after cancer and other physical changes.
Trend alert: User Generated Content, or UGC. Right now, digital marketing and advertising messaging needs to be as authentic and real as it has ever been. UGC enables customers to speak on behalf of brands they like, playing the role of influencer in a candid, casual way. Brands benefit from not only having their customers promote them among their respective following, but also from being able to further engage with their clientele.
My advice: Communicate with your customers. Respond to product reviews, send emails to repeat customers, and reach out with gratitude to those who are supporting your business. There has never been more competition online than now. And with the pandemic still at play, that trend will likely continue. Stand out from the rest by connecting personally and emotionally with your business community. A little appreciation goes a long way!
Attorney at Weiss Law LLP, helping businesses navigate the law.
Trend alert: NFTs are transforming the e-commerce fashion industry. Brands such as Gucci and Nike are selling their own digital creations of handbags and shoes as NFTs, ready for purchasers to use on social media or in the metaverse. With Morgan Stanley estimating that metaverse, gaming, and NFTs could represent 10 percent of the luxury goods market, brands are racing to adopt this trending new technology.
My advice: For those operating e-commerce marketplaces, begin facilitating the sales of NFTs alongside the physical product now. If you’re a software provider, consider providing a software as a service that could make sales of NFTs on a brand’s website more seamless. And if you’re a designer, take advantage of the royalties that you can make with subsequent sales of your NFT by developing a tailored license.
Founder and CEO of Morphology Consulting, a profitability-focused, digital commerce consultancy.
Trend alert: One of the bigger trends we are seeing for 2022 is better uses of data. Both brands and retailers have access to their customers' core wants via their search patterns and are able to adapt accordingly. We will see tighter assortments and better localization, and much more personalization. This will lead to more traffic, longer dwell time, and better conversion online. It will also greatly impact physical retail in that their buyers are able to plan demand and allocation at the store level for their specific customer.
My advice: If you have an e-commerce store, first and foremost, make sure that your site is set up in a way that is easily scraped and indexed by a search engine. It is the fastest way to get cleaner and more actionable data into your hands. Once you have that, start using it to merchandise your store front for personalization. Offer the right size and color combinations from search history and make sure your pages can react to this data.
Founder and CEO of Perkies, creating innovative undergarments for women to wear; most notably the Perkies Sticky Bra.
Trend alert: Instagram Reels have been huge. You can use trending music and even get in on a trend while promoting your brand and products. This will also increase visibility and your likelihood of being featured on the Instagram discovery page.
My advice: Staying in tune with your target market and how they shop is very important for those currently operating in the e-commerce space. If your target market is on Instagram and TikTok, create content for them. If your customers shop on Amazon, then make sure your products are on Amazon. Make sure to include user generated content in your marketing efforts to show that not only brand models are using your product.
CEO of The Reflective, a fashion platform for the modest woman.
Trend alert: As the digital world becomes more and more saturated, it is becoming even more important for e-commerce companies to establish a niche focus. Buzzwords like inclusivity, sustainability, diversity, and plus size have all taken a front seat. Consumers want to feel like they're being spoken to directly and that the products they're shopping have been created specifically for them.
My advice: Narrowing down your ideal consumer to an ideal persona will help you identify exactly who to target. What magazines/blogs do they read? What celebrities do they follow? What products do they spend more on and less on? Don't feel like you're limiting your sales potential like this. Once you lock in your target consumer as loyal customers, others will feel the pull toward what you're selling and will begin to join the movement.
CEO of LvL Studios, a sculpture, ceramic and public art installation company that works with leading brands, governments, and organizations.
Trend alert: Ownership of the supply chain creates more stability in your space. If you can better understand it, better manage it, and better predict disturbances, you will be able to respond to customer demands. Tesla grew exponentially in the pandemic, in no short thanks to their superior supply chain management.
My advice: Incorporate AI into the management of your supply chain and business processes. The future is organizational dashboards that allow you to see and respond to weather, social, and economic disruptions. This will enable you to better route and respond to customer demands.
Co-Founder and COO of 3ontessori, bridging the gap between school and in-home learning, and expanding access to allow every child to shine.
Trend alert: It's crucial to ensure that your business has a larger purpose, striving to make a positive impact on the world. A good product itself isn't enough. It can be easy to get caught up in metrics, but it is more important to look at the societal change you can make in your business. At 3ontessori, it went beyond wanting to exclusively sell Montessori products and collections. We wanted to transform the industry and bridge the gap between home and school to allow every child the chance to shine. Through our vision to do so, our community has truly stood alongside us as we take the next steps of growth.
My advice: Create a reason for your customers to be passionate about your company that is more than just purchasing their favorite products. To build success in the e-commerce space, brands need to rely on the human-centered approach to meet their customers. By building your community, human-to-human, your brand will blossom.
Founder of THEPRBAR Inc., an online coaching platform and resource hub built to help motivated entrepreneurs and professionals expand their impact, influence, and revenue.
Trend alert: A newer trend I’m seeing is how intertwined affiliate marketing is becoming with "earned media" and PR –– specifically, product round-ups and listicles. Media companies—big and small—have discovered an entirely new revenue stream is available to them by profiting off the products they feature in articles via affiliate links.
My advice: If you're an e-commerce brand looking for product press coverage in 2022, it's time to look more into setting up an affiliate program to up your chances of being featured. While being an Amazon affiliate is notably the most preferred platform across the industry, selling on Amazon isn't every company's cup of tea. Check out additional affiliate platforms such as ShareASale. If you need help in configuring a program, consider consulting with a marketing or PR pro.
Founder and CEO of THR3EFOLD, a SaaS platform providing apparel brands with access to an ethical supply chain and sustainability training.
The trends I see: We see brands finding new places to contact their customers. One of our brand customers found success inviting shoppers to sign up for texts so they could communicate directly about sales and new drops. This increased their sales and gave them direct access to customers without battling an algorithm.
My advice: The brands we see best positioned for 2022 are nearshoring their supply chain to navigate shortages and delays, and working with their suppliers to increase their sustainability through platforms like ours at THR3EFOLD. This way they can provide their customers with the standards and turnaround they expect while using e-commerce technology to more regularly communicate with them.
Founder and CEO of Lee London, a consumer tech marketplace filled with hard-to-find, new, and under-marketed manufactured tech goods.
Trend alert: The manufacturing industry is diverging into advanced AI products and goods that have been around for decades. There hasn't been a lot of optimizing what already exists. E-commerce reflects that divergence, too. There are cutting-edge sites implementing every data, marketing, and sales tactic possible. And then there's those that are going to be left behind.
My advice: Know your audience. A very advanced backend needs to be paired with an authentic, engaging, and distinctive frontend. E-commerce that excels will have finely-tuned these proficiencies to their audience.
All individuals featured in this article are members of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community and diverse ecosystem amplifying extraordinary entrepreneurial women through PR opportunities, authentic connection, and high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to its monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.