The continued eCommerce boom is giving brands more competition and investment potential than ever before, and many are turning to eCommerce tech to address challenges and opportunities. Instead of just being a flashy trend, digital engagement, even in terms of augmented reality, is becoming a standard way to reach a hungry audience. Investing more in the latest eCommerce tech will likely be a 2022 hallmark because of its ability to grow and protect your customer base.
Targeting based on AR and VR
In most eCommerce discussions on augmented and virtual reality, the tech itself is the focus. However, there’s a chance for 2022 to become the year we start looking deeper into the people behind AR and VR screens. What do AR and VR use tell us?
You’ll usually see companies, especially those selling this tech or developing apps for it, cite studies like Google’s survey where “more than 90% of Americans currently use, or would consider using, AR for shopping.” It’s a great start to get eCommerce companies to think about adopting the technology. What we’re hoping 2022 brings to the table is a discussion about those consumers themselves and how these technologies may indicate intent.
One report says that customers who use AR content while shopping have a 90% higher conversion rate than those who don’t. That should spur more to offer experiences with AR and VR content. But the innovation in 2022 will likely come from ways to target and reach these audiences. Look for ads and promotion within other content that helps customers have their first brand interactions in the AR and VR space.
Adding more ‘live’ to digital commerce
Some of the pandemic-related eCommerce innovations are becoming standardized practices. Early on, many smaller retailers were showing customers their products during live video reviews. These were popular streams on YouTube and Facebook Live. They allowed people to see, for example, how a jacket fit or ask about sizing. Links to purchase items were readily available and quickly shared by the people managing the streams.
Fast forward to the summer of 2021, and we saw Facebook brand this activity on its platform to control conversions and ad elements. Facebook launched “Live Shopping Fridays” to turn what small retailers did into a platform for major brands. The response to the program means we’ll likely see it become a feature set in 2022 across many social platforms.
The opportunity here is mainly for eCommerce going forward, especially as more physical retail locations open back up to customers. Live shopping and engagement tools will allow your store to reach more customers regardless of location. Interactions can create deep connections and build that personal relationship your customers crave.
The hope — and what we’re excited about — is to see how companies leverage live content. Instead of a text-heavy FAQ page, why not clip videos from a live stream where you answer these questions? Show the demos and questions on product pages. Add live-stream banners to pages so customers can engage or ask questions. Time your live events to your busiest shopping moments and help someone make an immediate purchase decision. Live video is easy to integrate into many platforms, and 2022 will be an exciting time to see how creative brands get with it.
Tech shoppers won’t see
Supply chain concerns dominated many eCommerce conversations in 2020 and 2021. Brands struggled to determine if they should order too much inventory or risk not having enough if a delay occurred. Inventory usually is one of the most significant eCommerce expenditures, and tough margins made this decision very difficult. Stores needed to do the most with as little budget as possible.
Part of the answer we think 2022 will offer is increased adoption of more logistics and supply chain technologies designed to improve importing products and last-mile delivery. Some of these may be new order management tools that help companies predict order volume. For example, forecasting was difficult at best in 2020. But now, many brands have at least 12 months of covid-related data to help create more reliable models.
Others may choose to use some more powerful carrier and shipping tools. New solutions are making it easier to add regional carriers to your lists of partners. This can protect an eCommerce company from space shortages or provide regional shipping rates that are more wallet-friendly. Partnering with a third-party logistics company, or 3PL can also help your brand use one inventory set for orders across all channels, including FBA, when the 3PL offers inventory prep services.
This eCommerce tech’s goal aligns with one of the biggest priorities we see for 2022: reliably getting goods to customers without handing off the relationship. ECommerce companies should look for opportunities in the tech stack to improve order and inventory management, access to carriers, and order fulfillment. The best options are those where you control your data or when you find a partner who automates elements like delivery of tracking details and ensures your branding is always part of the experience.
Devices are still in the driver seat
One of the few “steady as she goes” predictions for 2022 will be the dominance of mobile shopping. According to Oberlo, roughly $3 out of every $4 in eCommerce purchases happens on a mobile device. The number of mobile users is still growing, and the adoption of mobile payments at more physical retail will likely help this continue. By 2022, mobile-focused experiences will likely continue to be a driver in eCommerce success.
The element that will be interesting is to see how consumers and brands push adoption based on devices. There are persistent rumors of an Apple VR headset “coming soon,” while headsets like Merge VR and Samsung’s Gear VR already work with some smartphones. There’s a chance for the industry to see niche targeting become mainstream content if creation tools or VR platforms start working across most devices. If prices drop, that likelihood increases further, even for brick-and-mortar retailers.
For eCommerce brands considering how to invest in 2022, look at the devices your audience has. Do you need new tech investment to reach those, or an advertising and marketing tech be where you spend? Are you reaching eyeballs but struggling with order fulfillment and need to increase eCommerce tech behind the scenes? There are many pathways available that can help your business target its most pressing need or opportunity.
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