1. Headless and API-driven e-commerce allows for continued innovation

Headless e-commerce is essentially separating the front-end presentation layer of a website (what customers see) from the back-end ecommerce functionality. Developers can use the front-end technology of their choice to deliver high-quality content experiences, and then implement an ecommerce platform on the backend to manage all commerce functionality.

This provides e-commerce retailers with a huge amount of agility and flexibility in customizations, omnichannel infrastructure, better customer experience, higher conversion rates and lower acquisition costs—not to mention added SEO, content marketing, and digital experience capabilities.

What you need to do: First, decide if a headless e-commerce solution aligns with your company goals. Since you’ll be working with APIs, having a strong IT team to implement and maintain everything is crucial. Lastly, have realistic goals about how long it would take to implement this approach in your company and the impact it would have on learning and changes to the work routine for all.

Ecommerce sales in the US are predicted to hit the trillion-dollar mark by 2022, with online orders accounting for 20% of total retail sales by 2024.

(Source: eMarketer)

2. High consumer fulfillment demands

In the age of instant gratification, consumers want their orders yesterday. To make sure that they’re meeting the demands as quickly and efficiently as possible, retailers are using a combination of geographically distributed warehouses, multiple carriers, overnight shipping, or outsourcing the job to a third party fulfillment provider.

In the brick-and-mortar world, the customer experience is created by the shopping and customer service experience—merchandising and the knowledgeability (and of course courtesy) come above all else. However, the e-commerce experience plays by different rules; product availability, accurate fulfillment, rapid delivery, and less burdensome returns are what define a good experience.

That all boils down to the fact that when a customer orders a product online, the process has to be as seamless as possible—especially the post-purchase experience including fulfillment and returns.

What you need to do: The solution here is simple: turn fulfillment and delivery into a competitive advantage. Place your inventory in strategic locations that are closer to customers to deliver items faster. Streamline processes like shipping notifications and updates through automation. And offer flexible options like curbside pickup.

Installing fulfillment software that integrates seamlessly with e-commerce platforms and online marketplaces can help you manage orders and deliver a better experience to those customers.

67% of U.S. consumers expect either same, next, or two-day delivery.

(Source: Statistica)

Google recently announced an extension of the third party cookie ban. Marketers can be fairly confident that third-party cookies are on their way out.

Traditionally, e-commerce advertisers reached their audiences with ads based on the data that was collected from third-party cookies. In fact, the accuracy of the data and ability to target based on it has been one of the largest drivers of digital advertising spend. It effectively made it easy to put your ads in front of the right audience.

That leaves e-commerce retailers in a tight corner. They’re struggling to understand the impact as targeting customers becomes more and more sophisticated. That means it’s time to revisit the fundamentals of targeting, measurement, and cross-channel attribution.

What you need to do:

Develop a first-party data strategy

As a direct-to-consumer business, you have the ability to collect large amounts of data about your customers. The more you collect, the better. Because you can use that data to then target and segment users into their own cohorts.

Create contextual ad targeting campaigns

Focus on what your audiences are looking for. For example: keyword targeting via paid search is an example of contextual targeting, as is placement targeting via display networks. With the right messaging, in the right place, at the right time, you’ll be able to reach the people you’re trying to target effectively and efficiently.

49% of industry professionals listed cookie deprecation as their top media challenge in 2021.

(Source: Warc)

4. Social commerce and live shopping

Social media has been an invaluable tool for retailers promoting their brands, products, and services—both organically and through paid ads. Most social platforms facilitate social commerce so their users can buy products from third-party retailers without leaving the app—effectively removing the friction of toggling from the social network to the advertiser’s site to make a purchase.

Live shopping—the ability to make purchases directly from live streams—is one trend we expect to see increase in 2022 as brands and influencers alike aim to demonstrate products in real-world settings. We’ve also seen partnerships between TikTok and Shopify, an expansion of Snapchat’s Native Stores for brands, and the introduction of Facebook Shops.

What you need to do: Today, all social networks make it possible for you to promote your business and even sell products right from your social media pages. Enable social shopping options and get started on your first social commerce campaign. Study and determine which platform holds the most promise – where your target market is active and the e-commerce solutions that are available make sense for your business.

Use the channel to its full potential, which means including it as a major component of your content strategy. Keep an eye out for brands—especially within your space—that are leveraging social as a sales tool. Done right, it’s an extremely effective channel not just to drive engagement, but to bolster your brand and generate sales.

US social commerce sales are expected to grow by 35% to surpass $36 billion by the end of 2021.

(Source: Emarketer)

5. AI and AR in digital marketing

Artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) continue to pick up steam as powerful digital marketing tools as the technology continues to improve and advance. AR provides potential customers with a way to interact with products without stepping into a physical store (for example: seeing what a piece of furniture might look like in a room before purchase).

Shopify introduced Shopify AR, an easy-to-use toolkit for businesses to create their own AR experiences for customers. And the results are good: interactions with products having AR content showed a 94% higher conversion rate than products without AR.

Other businesses are using AI as a way to automate processes like purchase and shipping notifications, as well as use chatbots to improve customer service and enhance marketing efforts.

These technologies allow companies to lower marketing costs while improving the overall customer experience as e-commerce continues to grow.

What you need to do: Many predict that the e-commerce market will be dominated by the use of artificial intelligence and augmented reality. To get ahead of the game, you can implement newer AI software technologies that allow for personalized recommendations based on customer preferences and automated chatbots that help customers get answers and find products faster.

Although augmented reality solutions require longer timelines to implement, service providers like Threekit or Poplar can help your online buyers envision products in their own environment, which in turn, helps them make purchase decisions faster.

By 2022, it's expected that 25% of enterprises will launch AR and another 70% will experiment with it.

(Source: Deals Insight)