The rate and magnitude of the change seen in the e-commerce industry during the pandemic have been truly astounding. Retailers, and especially small businesses, have fought hard to keep up with the pace of change. More is yet to come – the impact of record-high shipping costs or the social media selling takeover have not yet been fully understood.
Shopify’s recent report ‘The Future of Commerce in 2022’ dives into how retailers have dealt with “more change in the last two years than in the previous two decades,” and reveals insights to help businesses succeed in these volatile times.
Consumer behaviour at the heart of change
Multiple studies are reporting how consumer behaviour is changing and how buying from a brand that aligns with their own values is top of the list. So achieving brand loyalty is key to any retailer’s success in 2022.
According to Shopify, “people are more willing than ever to buy from brands that resonate with them because of geography, company values, or sustainability”.
Shopify’s eCommerce Market Credibility Study, conducted by Forrester Consulting in September 2021 corroborates this, finding that “47% of the consumers said having a local presence was a significant factor for which brands they shop from. Consumers are 4 times more likely to purchase from a company with strong brand values. And a whopping 77% are concerned about the environmental impact of the products they buy”.
Slow shipping days
The 2022 customer absolutely wants fast and efficient delivery – however they will spend more money and accept slower shipping times for the right brand. Businesses must find a way to balance their brand values alongside meeting their customers new shopping habits and expectations.
So while shipping slows and the cost to ship rises, businesses that seek these opportunities to strengthen their consumer relationships will succeed. According to Shopify, “Differentiate and diversify: These are your two keys to success in 2022. This is the year of competing not on price, but on brand proposition. People want to buy from brands that stand for something, brands that align with their personal beliefs”.
If businesses get brand values, and therefore brand loyalty, on point, the obstacles of supply chain hold ups and transportation cost increases become less onerous. Building diverse business relationships across your supply chain, shipping, and fulfilment networks is time spent well to further future-proof your business.
Consumers want it all
Today’s consumer is very clear about what they want and expect from the retail industry – and one of those is an omnichannel experience. Omnichannel retail is an approach that focuses on providing customers with a unified and frictionless shopping experience across digital and physical channels at every stage of the customer journey, from browsing/discovery to order fulfilment.
A survey of 700 retailers by Software Advice highlights this trend, “To succeed today, retailers must have a unified omnichannel strategy to meet the needs of the newly evolved customer”. “When it comes to implementing your omnichannel strategy, providing a range of communication and shopping channels is key”.
Shopify’s report acknowledges that consumers are returning to bricks and mortar stores and the magical experience in-person shopping can create, but reminds retailers “it’s not about one or the other—consumers want it all. These days, commerce is omnichannel. The best brands understand that digital and physical retail don’t operate as silos”.
Customers want to be able to order online but return in store, or look at a product in a showroom and buy it online.
Knowing where to start in putting together a plan to address upcoming challenges is tough. But a key takeaway from Shopify’s report points to the need for retailers to differentiate their business. A great place to start is with retailers embracing and promoting their sustainable business practices. Businesses who ignore the sustainability drive of shoppers in 2022 do so at their peril, or as Shopify puts it: “go green or go red”.