Predictions For E-Commerce As The Allure Of Real-Life Shopping Returns


Liz Giorgi is an Emmy winning creative turned co-founder and CEO of soona, the world’s first virtual photoshoot platform for e-commerce.

One visual I know we can all conjure from the pandemic: an unusual number of brown cardboard boxes messily stacking up on our front stoops, in our entryways and on our kitchen counters as shopping went from a mix of online and offline to exclusively e-commerce-driven transactions. But as the pandemic fear wanes and more and more restrictions are lifted, what will happen to that internet-fueled shopping behavior?

It’s easy to assume all our shopping will balance again. E-commerce sales grew by 43% in 2020 alone, the single largest growth year ever for the industry. However, some early signals point to a leveling out of online shopping, such as the National Retail Federation’s prediction that retail store sales will grow as much as 8% this year despite economic pressures.

But if you just joined the world of e-comm or you are a traditional retailer who still wants to diversify your revenue streams with access to online shoppers, what can you do with this information? Here are three predictions on how the e-commerce competitive landscape will shift in a bear market.

1. Our love of visual shopping will continue to grow.

Part of the experience of going to a mall or retail store is the visual immersion. When our senses are activated, we are more likely to feel willingness to part with our money. Shopping centers are masters at thinking about what you see, hear, smell and even taste as part of the entire experience in your visit.

While online stores can’t waft a scented candle through the phone, they can present visual experiences that harken to all the senses. Consider how to activate sight and smell on your website to bring the entire shopping experience to life. One example of how you could call on a customer’s sense of smell is by including iconic and memorable props and fresh ingredients in your product images. For example, a lemon slice with fresh sprigs of basil styled next to a bottle of lemon basil lotion cuts through both visually and olfactorily, because we all have memories of those scents.

2. Video shopping will accelerate in 2022 and 2023.

Social shopping is already a major trend, be it through Instagram or TikTok shops, but the thing they both have in common is a deep commitment to video in 2022 and beyond. This is one of the best and easiest ways to stand out and make precious use of consumers’ social time. By adding more video to your strategy, you will earn more of their minutes on their devices. Of course, it doesn’t need to be perfectly polished content, either. User-generated content and self-created mobile content will do the trick with the right mix of assets.

If you aren’t sure what these assets look like, look no further than the Instagram shopping experience for trendy brands like Gucci, or swing on over to Bobbi Brown’s TikTok. Their content often shows off product features and new ways to mix and match their lines, and—especially when it comes to TikTok content—it’s usually a more personal format like that captured on an iPhone.

When soliciting user-generated video content, look for users who are repeat shoppers and have left you positive 5-star reviews in the store. Offer them a discount on a future purchase, or a free product, if they send a personal video highlighting their favorite features of your brand or a recent purchase. Then share it with the world! And be sure to tag the user’s social profile to give them credit and allow your future shoppers to check the user’s profile for authenticity.

3. Some of your favorite stores will close, but new, exciting partnerships will thrive.

There is little doubt that some brands won’t survive this second major shift in shopping behavior in just three short years. With inflation driving up the cost to produce products and with competition increasing again, the economics of selling affordable products will be especially challenging. Watch for some of your favorite budget brands to have an especially hard time.

If you want to survive this, your best bet is to find effective ways to create bundled and discovery-oriented product combinations that help surface your product to new audiences at a lower cost and do the same for your collaborators. One of the fastest ways to get started with this concept is to plug into technology platforms like Disco Network and Shopify’s new Shopify Audiences.

And finally, now is the moment to reach out to the competition! I mean it. Take a look at your biggest competitors and see if there is a way to bundle your products or even merge your businesses to leverage the networks you both have spent time building to cross-sell more products. For example, have a competitor in skincare that makes the best toner, but you make an award-winning moisturizer? These are two products that could cross-collaborate and sell together in a complete package.

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