From buying in bulk to chasing scarce household items like toilet paper and cleaning wipes, consumption patterns have changed drastically over the last year. 

The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to close their brick-and-mortar shops, leading to a rise in eCommerce stores. Whilst this has boomed and transformed in recent years, the pandemic arguably led to eCommerce dominating retail activity.

We were thrilled to be joined by Ksenia Newton, Marketing Content Specialist at Brandwatch, who shared some insights into the future of eCommerce. Keep reading for a roundup of that webinar, or scroll to the bottom to watch the webinar on demand.

A look back at 2020

2020 undeniably drove the biggest change in buyer behaviour. With traditional stores forced to shut, buyers were forced to embrace buying online, and the behaviour changes that come with it.

In doing so, one trend grew massively in popularity: The phrase “touch free” in conversations. This saw a spike in March 2020, going from around 2,000 conversations to nearly 16,000 conversations overnight. Between March and July of 2020, the frequency of “touch free” in conversations remained high, before steadily declining to January 2021.

Today, “touch free” remains a hot topic of conversation, averaging between 6,000 and 9,000 conversations per month. But with every innovation comes negative feedback. “Touch free” was often mentioned alongside keywords such as “Apple Pay”, “Contactless cards” and so on, with a popular tweet in 2020 garnering over 25,000 impressions that you can see below:

Contactless payment is pointless

In short, 2020 has demonstrated that more consumers are shopping online, and their expectations are growing. Not only that, consumer demand is also shifting, and companies need to be ready to pivot quickly.

But retailers-beware: Consumers will happily praise companies on social media when they are happy with their shopper experience, but they aren’t shy about sharing their dissatisfaction either.

The rise of social commerce

Another trend that has grown in popularity from 2020 and 2021 is social commerce, particularly the rise of livestreams and influencer marketing.

A question often asked is: “Is livestreaming here to stay?” and the research suggests that it is, with an evident steady growth in conversation. Mentions of livestreams in January to June 2021 grew by 45% when compared with the same period of 2020, and impressions grew by 39%.

Brandwatch snippet

This suggests that businesses should look to embrace innovative approaches such as livestreams and other social activations to greatly improve their positioning in social commerce and utilise social media to their advantage.

Influencer marketing is another hot topic. In recent years, there has been a rise in the power of social influencers, as they can be seen to discourage others from using a brand, product or service. 

This suggests that social media can make or break your business. Brands should invest time and effort into building authentic relationships with their consumers and affiliates. Similarly, monitoring consumers’ discussions online can help forecast and address consumer demand.

The state of customer loyalty in 2021

A business is only as strong as it’s customer base; if you take away customer advocacy, you’re left with a business missing the core tenet of loyal consumers.

Research from Brandwatch has revealed that there are 3 top reasons for advocacy, but also three similar reasons for detraction.

The top reasons for advocacy were: Price (or value for money), product quality and delivery. Interestingly, delivery was the top reason for detraction, followed by treatment of employees and product quality.

This research also exposed two important drivers of customer advocacy, as we’ll explore in more detail.

1. Sustainability

Sustainability is quickly becoming a hot topic of debate, not just in the retail industry, but in the business world in general. Consumers are rapidly looking for more zero-waste or sustainable options when buying products, as the ongoing climate crisis becomes evermore damaging.

Data from GWI shows that 52% of consumers want to see brands creating products with less packaging, however there are regional differences in detraction posts around sustainability and plastic in particular. 

For example, in the UK, detraction is often discussed in tandem with grocery items stored in plastic. Conversely, in the US, the root issue is shipping materials after receiving deliveries from top retailers.

Furthermore, when responding to the question: “Which of these are barriers for you when it comes to purchasing eco-friendly products?” the age bracket 16-24 years responded highest when saying “I don’t think my individual impact makes a difference”. Chase Buckle, Head of Global Trends at GWI had this to say:

“Although younger age groups do participate in practical actions like recycling, they’re relatively more inclined to believe individual action is pointless without companies taking more responsibility. Gen Z and millennials are up to twice as likely as older generations to believe their individual impact doesn’t make a difference when recycling and adopting reusable packaging.”

2. Customer reviews

Everyone loves reading customer reviews, especially the negative ones. Remember, as consumers, we naturally search for reviews as part of the buying process, with reviews being one of the “big 5” content topics we search for when making our buying decision.

It goes without saying that reviews impact sales, especially when you consider:

  • Products with an average rating of 5 stars get 126% more orders than those with an average of 4 stars.
  • Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before trusting a business.
  • 32% of consumers will go on to visit a business’ website after reading a positive review.
  • 88% of customers put as much weight on online reviews as they would on personal recommendations.

How to prepare your business for the Christmas season

The Christmas holiday shopping season is often one of, if not the busiest season for businesses. But the struggles don’t lie in sales, but instead in customer service.

Often, businesses fail to meet customer expectations during the holiday seasons, a big consumer pain point being placing orders for items that are out of stock (but not labelled as such).

What will eCommerce look like in 2022 (and beyond)?

The future of eCommerce is bright. As consumers shop online more, businesses will have more data points to study and learn from, giving them ample opportunity to understand growing consumer expectations.

As trends increase, we’re likely to see an increase in digital adoption around shopping, with customer reviews becoming more instrumental in generating sales. We also anticipate consumers caring more about recycling and sustainability.

That might sound like a lot to handle, which is why we’ve got X tips to get prepared for eCommerce in 2022 and beyond:

  1. Explore new platforms and technologies.
  2. Keep track of feedback online; they can strengthen sales and brand loyalty when integrated into your marketing strategy.
  3. Utilise social commerce; it’s a powerful tool for better or worse.
  4. Study your target audience.
  5. Revisit your marketing messaging; underpromise and overdeliver.

We thoroughly enjoyed hosting Ksenia Newton, and you can access the webinar recording below.

Alternatively, if you need support with your eCommerce marketing strategy, get in touch with us to find out more about how we can support you and your goals.