Last updated on April 19, 2023

Jessica Hulett
Content Manager, Brand @ Yotpo
October 20th, 2021 | 7 minutes read

eCommerce is changing. Here’s how brands can adapt.

Table Of Contents

It’s been a wild couple of years for eCommerce. The pandemic accelerated the trend toward online shopping and brands of all sizes had to pivot quickly to meet that demand. Many smaller eCommerce brands faced rapid growth and the growing pains that come with it, while large brick-and-mortar-first retailers had to scramble to accommodate shoppers who no longer felt safe stepping foot in-store.

As 2022 approaches, most customers and brands are settling into a new normal, and it looks a lot different than it did pre-pandemic. As part of our recent Amazing Women in eCommerce Online event, we spoke to four inspiring, innovative women on the cutting edge of eCommerce about what they see as the big trends for the New Year, and how to best meet the challenges that lie ahead.

1. Customer acquisition is going to continue to be a challenge

The cost of customer acquisition has been rising steadily for years, and that trend line isn’t expected to dip any time soon. eCommerce brands have to ensure that they are getting their money’s worth when it comes to acquiring customers. One of the best ways to do that is to ensure that there are no leaks in your marketing funnel.

“If you’re investing a lot into acquisition, I think it’s good to also map out the journeys and consider all the scenarios,” says Laura Bradbury, eCommerce manager at DOMU Brands. “I think it’s really important to definitely consider the most common paths that customers will take from a campaign and make sure that they are going to meet the aim of what you want to achieve from a campaign to get the most out of it.”

And for smaller brands that don’t have the budget for a digital advertising blitz, getting creative about how you market your brand and products is a great way to sidestep the rising cost of acquisition. In our AWIE panel discussion, Chaz Olajide, founder of Yotpo Grow brand Sir Dogwood, highlighted some wins the brand had gotten in connection with social media buzz around Small Business Saturday, and how giveaways have helped them increase brand awareness.

“We’ve relied a lot more on giveaways, partnering with other small brands like ourselves who are in the doggy market, and maybe their followers haven’t heard about us,” says Chaz. “So it’s really easy, really low cost just to create a giveaway, have people make sure that they tag both businesses or all three or four or however many people are involved. It’s a great way to get that follower number up.”

2. Brands will invest more in experiential marketing

For eCommerce brands, one of the biggest challenges in convincing shoppers to purchase your product is the fact that they can’t touch it, taste it, or try it on. Now that lockdowns are no longer the norm, eCommerce brands are going to start investing in connecting with their customers IRL.

“One of the biggest changes that I’m anticipating is more experiential,” says Jamie Levy, head of merchant engagement at Shopify. “I think a lot of brands, we’ve been limited in how we can test in different ways in which to get in front of IRL customers and prospects and potential audience. And so I think and I’m hopeful — maybe I’m projecting — that we’ll see a lot more experiential activities and events. I think brands are looking for different ways to have direct conversations with their audience and to diversify channels.”

3. Personalization will be even more important

As eCommerce has become the norm for shopping, customers have gotten increasingly savvy. They aren’t going to buy the first product they land on, and they expect the on-site experience to feel like an in-store one. This means that providing them with a personalized experience end-to-end is crucial.

“Customers’ expectations are probably higher than ever,” says Laura. “So I think one of the changes we’ll see is that a lot of retailers will have to start tailoring customer experiences, like personalize an experience more to kind of service the demand of the customers. You give them exactly what they want and they don’t feel that they need to go elsewhere. So that will be the challenge. Can I capture and retain customers by offering them a best-in-class experience on-site?”

4. Community-building will be an important aspect of loyalty

Loyalty programs are a huge part of building a community around your brand, but many eCommerce brands are taking that idea a step further, and building out communities related to their products and services on Facebook, Slack (Join Yotpo’s AWIE Slack community!), or Discord.

“I think that there are some brands that have really capitalized on that community and made sure that their audience knows that they have a voice and that they’re being heard,” says Jamie. “You want to empower your customers to be advocates for the brand.”

5. Privacy changes mean marketers have to shift focus

Recent privacy changes have spooked many marketers, but those who see it as an opportunity to get back to basics when it comes to marketing a brand or products are going to have a leg up on their competition.

“I think in a lot of ways, this is going to help us come back to traditional brand building that will eventually result in much stronger, longer-term customer relationships that we may be missing out on today because we’ve gotten a little bit more dependent on direct response,” says Erica Richey Fontes, VP of marketing at Snowe. “I think a great example is something like reviews, right? A lot of us will put them in our outbound marketing, particularly when we know people have visited the site, but making sure that you are collecting them regularly, you’re letting them show in your SEO presence, and that they are loud and proud on your product description pages so that people don’t have to go through multiple consideration loops and get all those extra exposures where it may be harder to go track them down.”

6. UGC will be fueling social commerce

Social commerce is growing, and brands that leverage UGC, whether it’s reviews, customer photos, or customer videos, will have a huge opportunity for big gains when it comes to shopping on social networks.

“I would say that user-generated content is a trend that we’re seeing when it comes to social commerce,” says Chaz. “And we have been able to create a section of our website where you can shop Instagram from our homepage. So people are not only shopping from Instagram on Instagram, but also from our, from our website, which is great.”

7. Transparency around sustainability will be more important for brands

Customers have made it clear that they want to support brands that stand for something, and sustainability is one of the most important causes they want brands to commit to. Many brands have made those commitments, but consumers increasingly want to see them follow through on those commitments, and be more transparent about their practices.

“Over the last 18-24 months, a lot of brands have been very vocal about announcing their sustainability practices and their commitment to sustainability,” says Jamie. “But I think that there have been some gaps that have been uncovered… It’s really easy to talk about how you’re committing to sustainability, but it’s completely another thing to actually follow through with it.”

For more insights from our Amazing Women in eCommerce, watch the online event. And to nominate a 2022 AWIE Honoree, click here.