The latest global e-commerce trends: position yourself for success in 2022

The e-commerce explosion of 2020 took everyone by surprise and while the future remains unpredictable, research conducted over the last year has given us some valuable insights into how shoppers are responding to the ongoing changes.

The ability to quickly recognise consumer trends and reimagine business strategy accordingly will be key to the success of brands and retailers, ultimately deciding which ones thrive this year and which ones are left behind.

The complex e-commerce customer journey

While record numbers of customers began shopping online in 2020, the path they took to arrive at a given purchase was less than straightforward. Research conducted by ChannelAdvisor and Dynata in August 2021 showed that the average customer journey today is more fragmented than it was before the pandemic. The data suggests that online shoppers are eager to find the best deals and are using multiple channels to research and source their desired products.

A customer might discover a product through an ad on social media, use a search engine to find reviews and the company’s website, and then compare listings with multiple online marketplaces and retailers. In five key markets around the world, 70 per cent of all consumers surveyed said they read reviews from multiple online sources before making a purchase.

Understanding the variables

While increased complexity is common to customer buying journeys around the world, exactly what that journey looks like will depend on location. In the US, most consumers start their product search on Amazon, while the majority of Australian shoppers begin with a search engine.

The research also returned some valuable insights into how shopping preferences were shaped by demographics. For younger audiences, social media platforms offer an important research tool, with the majority of 18-35-year-olds saying they had researched or discovered a product through Facebook or Instagram.

The three factors most likely to lead US consumers to abandon their purchases were availability (60 per cent), price (44 per cent), and negative reviews (39 per cent). For Australian consumers, price (79 per cent) was more likely than availability (55 per cent) to affect their decision. In the UK, reviews exerted the greatest influence when choosing between products.

How brands and retailers can respond 

With shoppers actively using so many platforms, the most successful retailers will take a multichannel approach. A strong presence across all channels can help businesses achieve visibility and reach consumers at all stages of their journey.

For cross-border e-commerce, effective marketing uses personalisation to optimise ads and product listings on the most popular platforms for each target country, while also accounting for demographic variables within those markets. Companies based in Southeast Asia have had success using these methods to reach audiences in Europe and North America.

To prevent shoppers from going to another retailer due to lack of availability, brands and retailers will need a rigorous inventory management strategy. Competitive price setting and attractive promotions can also help ensure more customers follow through with their purchases.

While online shopping habits are more complex than they used to be, our research shows that they are anything but random. By paying close attention to these trends, brands and retailers can position themselves to make more informed business decisions that can help them grow and reach new markets in 2022.

About the author: Simon Clarkson is MD, APAC, at ChannelAdvisor.