The pandemic changed many aspects of our day-to-day lives, but one of the major shifts that it has sparked is in the way that people shop. This shift has led to growth and innovation in the e-commerce space.
This post will discuss shopping trends to look out for in 2022. We will look at how the pandemic has affected the global shopping industry before we discover how these shifts will manifest in this coming year. To wrap things up, we will discuss how Alibaba.com can help you jump on these shopping trends.
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The pandemic has changed how the world operates in more ways than one. When it comes to shopping trends, many forces have been at play. These trends have been affected by consumers, businesses, and even larger governing bodies.
Over the past two years, many nations adopted protocols designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, which has also affected business operations. Whenever there was a lockdown or a new restriction that caused businesses to operate at a limited capacity, companies were forced to pivot and shift to sustain themselves while serving their customers.
Consumer behavior and global demands have also changed over the course of the pandemic. For example, when people were stuck at home in the early days of the pandemic, people began to spend more money on goods than on experiences like travel, dining out, and other out-of-the-home entertainment.1
The most significant impact of the pandemic on the global shopping industry is the growth of e-commerce. However, the changes extend far beyond this growth. Shopping trends that originated in the pandemic continue to grow and develop, creating a unique situation in retail shopping and beyond.
Staying with the times is important for the success of any business. However, staying ahead of the times puts businesses at an advantage.
Here are 10 rising trends in retail and shopping for 2022.
Although e-commerce was around before the pandemic, online shopping has grown significantly over the past two years. In fact, the global e-commerce industry grew to 4.28 trillion in 2020, and it is forecasted to be worth $6.5 trillion by 2023.2
A lot of this growth was spurred by the pandemic. Still, e-commerce will likely continue to grow because of its undeniable convenience. Not only does it allow buyers to make purchases from the comfort of their homes, but it allows them to connect with diverse vendors and unique products.
Social media has been a popular tool for marketing for several years, but the specific methods that are used are evolving to match the current social media culture.
Influencer marketing, in particular, has been a crucial tool for many years, and many brands continue to lean into this technique to reach their target audiences.
If you’re not familiar, influencer marketing is a technique that brands use to connect with their target audiences by leveraging the influence of public figures in the same niche. For example, a beauty brand would partner with a makeup guru to promote their products in a review or tutorial video. A sporting gear company would partner with a professional athlete to represent its brand.
While influencer marketing remains popular, more organic promotion via social commerce has become very valuable, as well.
Since TikTok has grown in popularity, virality has also impacted shopping behaviors. It has become relatively common for items to go viral on TikTok then to sell out quickly. Sometimes, branded products go viral, and other times, generic types of items go viral. This is particularly popular with younger consumers, such as those that belong to Gen Z.
In situations where generic items go viral, online stores can jump on the trend to offer the product, as well. Even when a branded product goes viral, online stores can offer knock-off alternatives.
Online buying has come to include more than by-mail deliveries. During the pandemic, we’ve seen a surge in online ordering for curbside pickup.
With curbside pickup, buyers add items to their cart online, and a shopper will prepare their order. Typically, buyers schedule a specific time slot for pickup, and then they park in dedicated spots when they arrive.
Curbside pickup encourages shoppers to continue to support their local stores while avoiding crowds. This past year, restrictions that caused businesses to operate at limited capacity have been lifted in many places, but curbside pickup continues to bring value through convenience.
The value of curbside pickup is that it brings together the convenience of online shopping while eliminating the wait of receiving a delivery to your home.
Curbside pickup is not limited to retail. In fact, restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores, and other types of businesses are implementing this option, as well.
During the pandemic, live streaming became very popular for different business operations since remote operations became a must. What makes live streaming so valuable is that it fosters an engaging interaction between brands and buyers. Live streams make the experience more lifelike, which is more on par with in-person shopping than with online shopping.
Live streaming has been used for everything from sales to corporate training. In the context of shopping, live streaming is used to give potential buyers a more lifelike view of the products that they’re interested in.
Think about buying clothes online. Sometimes, it is difficult to gauge the quality or texture of a material in still images. However, with a live video, interested buyers can see the articles of clothing from different angles. In some live streams, viewers can also ask the presenter questions about the product in real-time.
Amazon, for example, was one of the first e-commerce platforms to launch a live streaming channel. This channel was particularly active during last year’s Prime Day sales event. Alibaba.com followed suit with a similar campaign during the #SuperSeptember sales event.
Sometimes, live streaming is a sales technique that is merged with influencer marketing. It allows influencers to showcase how they use products in real-life situations. Brands can also leverage live streaming to demonstrate all of the ways that their products can be used.
A variety of digital innovations have enhanced the shopping experience since the start of the pandemic. Virtual reality is one specific type of technology that has become important for the shopping experience.
Virtual reality, or VR for short, is an innovation that creates a simulation that puts users into an alternate digital reality. Typically, this sort of experience is made possible with special goggles or headsets. There are some 2D technologies that provide a similar experience on computers and tablets.
VR technology is important and relevant for both online and in-person shopping. Simulations create more of a life-like shopping experience for online stores. This technology is also very important in showrooms since it helps salespeople showcase the full range of benefits or functionality of a product.
Near real-time delivery has changed the expectations from buyers in several countries around the world. A couple of major e-commerce platforms support delivery in as little as 1 to 2 days on a large collection of products. Some products are even eligible for same-day delivery.
This has shifted the perception of buyers who have been afforded this luxury. It has created a sense of instant gratification and an understandable favoritism towards stores that support fast shipping.
Many online retailers do not currently support near real-time delivery. Smaller businesses that do not have the infrastructure to compete with the major players, like Amazon or Walmart, are put in a tough spot.
Near real-time delivery is not yet the standard, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming years.
During the pandemic, especially over the past year, supply chain disruption has posed issues for many businesses. These supply chain disruptions have been caused by shutdowns, operational restrictions, COVID-19 outbreaks, and different shortages. Border lockdowns have also limited transportation and caused bottlenecks within supply chains.
In an attempt to resolve these issues, businesses have been forced to get strategic. For some, that means investing in supply chain reinforcement. Of course, this may not be possible for smaller businesses with limited budgets, but experts are encouraging larger corporations with the appropriate means to take action.3
While these supply chain issues and shortages affect consumers, the action and buying trends are more relevant on a B2B trade level.
The pandemic has brought tons of uncertainty for businesses. In an attempt to minimize potential losses, many trimmed down or redirected their product offerings. They offered carefully curated assortments in an attempt to serve the precise needs of their customers.
Although this trend was originally used as a survival mechanism of sorts, it remains popular today.
In the age of brick-and-mortar stores, finding a one-stop shop that sold all the things that you might need was quite valuable. It saved shoppers from going to different stores to find all of their must-haves. With e-commerce, on the other hand, this is less of a problem. Shoppers can buy products from several different online stores without having to leave the comfort of their homes.
Not only does niching down make sense in times of uncertainty, but it allows businesses to target a very specific market. In this sort of situation, businesses can pour their resources into providing exceptional service to one niche audience rather than spreading their resources thin in an attempt to reach different segments within a general audience.
During the early stages of the pandemic, online grocery shopping became huge. Some grocery stores operate at a limited capacity, making in-store grocery shopping inconvenient. A lot of people opted to order groceries online because it was more convenient and it allowed them to avoid crowds.
In the beginning, there were a handful of third-party providers that handled grocery delivery. However, since the pandemic persisted, many stores have created their own online shopping experiences.
With online grocery shopping, the items can be delivered to your door by a courier, or buyers can pick their orders up in-store or via curbside pickup.
Even though online shopping is extremely popular and convenient, there is still a demand for some physical stores. Brick-and-mortar stores bring in a social element that online stores lack.
Businesses with brick-and-mortar stores are wise to enhance the shopping process with immersive experiences. This could include anything ranging from the innovative technology we discussed earlier to special sales events.
Another interesting way to enhance the in-person buying experience is to incorporate the use of mobile devices to create omnichannel experiences. For example, a clothing retailer might place a QR code near some of their top items that brings up a link to a lookbook for styling the piece. Similarly, some stores encourage buyers to share photos of their experience with a branded hashtag to stimulate online engagement.
It is also worth noting that for many shoppers, visiting brick-and-mortar stores provides a nostalgic sort of experience. Even though online shopping is more convenient in many cases, shopping in a store gives some semblance of the pre-pandemic “normal.”
Although several of the shopping trends we’ve covered are retail-specific, they have both direct and indirect impacts on B2B trade, as well.
For starters, online wholesaling has grown during the pandemic.4 Although e-commerce started to grow in popularity in the retail space before the pandemic, e-commerce was not popular in the wholesaling space.
However, since COVID-19 caused travel and in-person meetings to come to a halt, B2B trade was quickly pushed online. For a while, virtual trade shows replaced in-person trade shows, and digital storefronts and showrooms replaced brick-and-mortar locations. Wholesalers and their buyers were forced to adapt. The shifts made B2B trade more convenient and accessible, so many became permanent.
In general, wholesalers and manufacturers need to stay on top of shopping trends so that they can best serve their buyers and stay ahead of the competition.
In this ever-evolving digital landscape, e-commerce is presenting new opportunities for retailers and wholesalers alike. A powerful B2B e-commerce marketplace, such as Alibaba.com, is an important tool for wholesalers who want to lean into these trends to maximize success in 2022.
Alibaba.com offers a wide range of tools to facilitate B2B trade. These tools include Trade Assurance, smart product listings, insightful analytics, and order management. Our platform is fully equipped to help you take your B2B e-commerce business to the next level.
Sign up today to start selling on Alibaba.com.