5 Ecommerce Trends to Watch in 2022 and Beyond

Every company is an ecommerce company.

 

May 2, 2022

10 MINUTE READ

 
Jon Feldman
Director for Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Salesforce

Data from every industry proves B2C and B2B customers prefer buying over digital channels. But as the latest ecommerce trends show, nailing your selling strategy entails more than running a website or launching an app.

So, what’s next for brands as they race to keep up? Continually reevaluating their digital maturity journey and iterating on the strategies that enhance capabilities, products, and services. Those that do will win the day with stronger customer relationships, and ultimately, faster growth.

Here, we explore the five ecommerce trends that could be here to stay.

Ecommerce trend # 1: B2C is just the start

Industries like apparel and consumer banking already have a big presence online. But companies from healthcare to manufacturing are dialing up the volume on their own ecommerce capabilities. In fact, high-performing organizations (defined as organizations that call their digital commerce efforts extremely successful) in every sector are replacing in-store experiences with digital ones.

With 85.3% of sellers planning to make ecommerce platform investments in 2022, companies that don’t keep up risk getting left behind. That’s why we predict that even businesses that historically relied on in-person sales will prioritize ecommerce.

 
85% of sellers plan to make ecommerce platform investments in 2022 and companies that don’t keep up risk getting left behind.

Manufacturing sales channels are going all-digital

Digitization hasn’t just accelerated product development. It’s also changed the way manufacturers interact with business buyers and end consumers. With no-touch sales, direct-to-consumer (D2C) selling, and remote work entering the mainstream, online sales are poised to capture the entire manufacturing marketplace within a few years, according to PwC.

Healthcare is going virtual

Digital consultations are growing in popularity as patients do everything from meet with physicians to order prescription refills on apps and websites. And businesses like medical device manufacturers are opening up new revenue streams by selling to commercial customers and end users online.

Automotive is connecting online and in-store experiences

Digital-first dealers like CarMax have streamlined the buying journey for customers who’d rather shop online. But even showrooms are upping the digital ante by collecting customer data through online portals, ensuring salespeople can help buyers the moment they come in for a test drive.

Issuers are digitizing commercial configure, price, and quote

Banks have long prioritized investments in online and mobile transactions and services. But today, insurers are selling and servicing their commercial customers using digital portals. Even commercial bankers are getting in on the game, with companies offering ecommerce solutions for corporate payments and treasury.

Ecommerce trend #2: Simplify complicated experiences

Three negative ecommerce experiences is all it takes for a customer to abandon a business and never return. To keep customers satisfied and loyal, companies must streamline online interactions. The challenge? Buyer journeys are growing more complex. Suddenly, consumers and business buyers alike are discovering products and services on social media, buying goods on apps, choosing from flexible payment options, and following along as products travel along their delivery journey.

Eighty percent of business buyers expect to conduct even more business online. To keep up, businesses will need to be agile. Here’s how:

 
80% of business buyers expect to conduct even more business online.

The evolution of payments

Businesses are thinking about payments and ecommerce as one and the same journey — even in B2B, where 61.8% of sellers said they would make investments in 2022. Increasingly, B2B and B2C customers are demanding new and more flexible options, like pay over time, buy now pay later, and subscriptions. Payment options will surely continue to evolve.

Order management and the post-purchase experience

Customers may not realize what happens behind the scenes when they complete an order online. Everything that happens from the time they click the "buy" button until their purchase shows up on their doorstep is known as the order management process. When done correctly, this process is so seamless that one may not realize all the puzzle pieces that must come together in order for merchandise, materials, and parts to arrive at homes and warehouses. After your purchase has been completed, order management allows you to ship to multiple addresses, update quantities, and select from a variety of convenient payment options. With ecommerce trends continuing to evolve, we can expect the order management process to become even more sophisticated.

Social commerce is just getting started

Customers like engaging with brands during micro-moments on channels like Instagram. Social selling is poised to grow three times as fast as traditional ecommerce, with some suggesting it could become a nearly $80 billion industry by 2025 in the U.S. alone. It’s also popular globally: In China, social platforms already offer ecommerce capabilities.

The rise of headless platforms

Headless commerce platforms give customers and employees greater speed and flexibility. Companies can deliver new experiences faster because they don’t have to wait in the developer queue to make changes to back-end systems. Instead, employees can update online interfaces using APIs, experience managers, and user-friendly tools. Customers benefit because they get fresh experiences more frequently on the devices and channels of their choosing. Even better, headless accommodates popular features like self-service for returns and reorders.

Ecommerce trend #3: B2B marketplaces are going digital

With sales growing 130% year over year in 2021 to $56 billion, it’s clear that B2B marketplaces are now in the mainstream. We anticipate this trend will strengthen as operators look to grow revenue by partnering with new suppliers, enabling shoppers to find everything they need on one screen (like the chance to buy products related to the goods already in their online shopping carts).
 
Sales grew 130% year over year in 2021 to $56 billion
Marketplaces (digital platforms that connect buyers and sellers of goods) also make it easier for B2B companies to add products on direct and indirect channels — without having to hold additional stock. Strategic relationships with suppliers also enable companies to import the full product range instead of limited offerings. And companies can also ensure they can offload goods held in regional locations by targeting sellers with access to local distribution points.

Ecommerce trend #4: Everyone wants first-party data

Travel and retail have set the standard when it comes to collecting and using customer data to drive personalization. But today, leading brands in B2C and B2B are gathering customer data like mobile numbers and social media profiles before cookies become a thing of the past. And it’s about more than profits.

With first-party data, companies can:

  • Discover emerging marketplaces
  • Build new retailer relationships
  • Develop and test products
  • Surface changes in demand at the local level
  • Make faster production and fulfillment decisions
At KIND Snacks, its nut bars were already flying off the shelves at supermarkets and big box retailers. When the business decided to sell directly to consumers with programs like Build Your Own Box subscription service, it created a new and predictable revenue stream. But it also discovered a new way to build loyalty, learn more about customer preferences, spot important trends, and test new products.
 
Freddie Roseman
Senior Director of Digital Technologies, KIND

Ecommerce trend #5: Act local to win global

Comparatively low ecommerce penetration rates in still-emerging markets mean businesses will remain eager to explore global activations. To succeed, businesses will focus on localizing ecommerce experiences by market. This is easier said than done. In addition to accounting for regional differences in seasonality, product preferences, and price sensitivities, brands must account for a wide range of operational challenges.

Plan ahead for peak demand

Cyber Week might be the pinnacle of the retail season in the U.S., but in China, Singles Day and Chinese New Year reign supreme. And that’s just the start.

Manage payment preferences

Companies must be prepared to accept common local payments, understand tax schemes, and convert currency. Other challenges — such as address formats — present even more logistical hurdles.

Deliver relevant and timely messaging (while staying on brand)

Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Companies must be able to manage promotions and messaging in one region without affecting operations in another. And to deliver the appropriate personalized experiences, companies must adopt region-specific language — like swapping “sneakers” for “trainers” in the U.K.
 

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