Why Online Retail Will Continue To Grow in 2022

Online retail is here to stay. The sector has seen unprecedented growth over the past three years, largely in part due to a shift in societal attitudes in response to the global pandemic and increasingly sophisticated new technologies. In this article, we explore why more people are preferring to shop online and look at some of the new trends in this area of retail.

Convenience

One of the key aspects as to why people use online retail, and one that is even more pertinent during the years of the pandemic, is because it offers a high degree of convenience.

Rather than browsing through brick-and-mortar stores to find what you are looking for (which may even be out of stock), you can simply purchase products in a couple of clicks, or can you save time by clearly seeing that a product is unavailable.

Additionally, online shopping is not limited to online and closing times like physical stores, meaning that for people who work within these time constraints, they can still purchase whatever they need online.

Moreover, online retail allows for home delivery, meaning that for people who struggle to walk far or have disabilities that limit them from journeying to the shops and back home, they can have their shopping delivered right to their doorstep. This has been exacerbated by the global pandemic and the shift in attitudes towards safe shopping, with customers demanding faster and more flexible delivery options such as same-day delivery.

Personalised Shopping

Personalisation is one of the most exciting new developments in ecommerce, following general trends in marketing in which businesses use data to build a picture of individual consumer tastes. According to Modern Retail, 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that features personalised content.

Personalisation involves tailoring the shopping experience specifically to customers, for example, a business may recommend you relevant products based on your past purchase history.

Sometimes, personalisation can be as simple as referring to a customer by their first name in an email or sending special offers on birthdays.

Customers do not want a purely transactional service, rather, they want to feel valued by the business, preferring to develop a relationship with them. When a company utilises personalisation well, it enhances the overall customer experience, leading to an increase in repeat purchases.

Shopping via social media

With much of our daily lives revolving around social media, it makes sense that companies have begun to utilise social commerce as a critical component in their marketing strategies.

Social commerce involves adapting every aspect of the buying journey into social media, from the initial point of discovery to purchase.

Social media sites such as TikTok, Facebook and Instagram have live streaming features, allowing retailers to adapt their in-store experiences to online, by showcasing products, building a brand personality, and interacting with customers directly.

Adweek covered this in an article discussing the growth of livestream retail in 2022. Much of what they have said there continue to be relevant 12 months later. There is even a new term for the influencers who are selling products online through live stream – ‘streamfluencers’ of course.

Comparison Sites

As customers have become savvier with their buying habits, retailers have been forced to adapt their methods to keep up with the increase in customer power, therefore, remaining competitive.

Comparison sites continue to be a key part of our online experience helping to build trust and allowing us to compare prices and read both impartial expert and customer reviews.  They have a big impact not just in retail but in other industries where prospective customers can compare insurance premiums, energy prices, travel deals, gambling products like online slot sites and casinos, financial services and pretty much any other goods and services available through online sales.

Customer forums are also an example of this increased customer power, places where customers can detail their positive or negative experiences with a business can be the crucial difference between making a purchase at a retailer or going to a competitor.

Effect of COVID-19

COVID-19 has had detrimental effects on the bricks and mortar community. Consumers shopping behaviours have had a significant shift towards online shopping since the beginning of the first lockdown.

Due to the restrictions placed on the UK during March 2020, bricks and mortar shops had to close for a period of 13 months, with only essential shops remaining open.

This caused consumers to rethink their spending patterns. Being unable to try on clothes or purchase home goods, consumers had to switch to online shopping.

Adhering to the guidance given by the government, consumers were advised to stay home.

Consequently, this has many benefits for online retailers, with online sales doubling within the first few months of lockdown.

This shift has remained since the re-opening of shops with many people still ordering clothing, groceries, and necessities to their front door within a 24-hour window.

Amazon and Amazon Live

With the increased online sales, Amazon became one of the most popular online retailers for consumers to purchase items from

With their marketplace amazon prime offering the benefit of guaranteed next day delivery, consumers had the ability to receive their goods the next day without having to leave their home; it was a one-stop-shop for all consumers.

Retailers soon became aware of its popularity among consumers and became an Amazon partner. This was a shot in the arm for the Amazon platform as this became the primary platform for consumers to purchase goods from.

Amazon’s profits of £386 billion in 2020 had over doubled since 2017. Consumers spending patterns have remained similar since shops re-opened again in 2021 as the purchasing process has become more efficient and easier than ever before.

Alternative Payment Methods

With the unknown severity of the COVID-19 virus, retailers advised consumers not to use cash, as a safety precaution for their staff.

This considerate shift to contactless payments resonated well with consumers. Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal have had increased significant usage to the easy accessibility of using their phone to pay for goods.

When making an online purchase, if your card was connected to Apple or Google Pay, it means you do not have to input any card information, making it quicker and easier for consumers to complete transactions.

The safety feature for these payment methods is another reason why this method has become so popular as face ID, fingerprint or security code needs to be confirmed before a purchase can be completed.

The convenience of these cashless payment services and the ease with which they integrate with online sales points means they have helped with the growth in the online retail market and will continue to do so in the next decade and beyond.

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