Five Trends Changing The Way Customers Shop In 2022


David Wagoner is the co-founder and CMO of P3 Mean, an award-winning digital-marketing and ecommerce agency based in NYC.

I’ve always done at least some of my holiday shopping in person. I love a wintery store window, and once I’m inside, I’ll instantly remember everyone on my list who doesn’t have a pizza stone (you’ve got one, right?). This year, though, I didn’t bust a single door. Online deals were better, and with Covid-19, I didn’t feel like hanging out at the mall.

I wasn’t alone. According to data from Sensormatic Solutions, Thanksgiving retail foot traffic was down 90% and Black Friday shopping was down 28% from 2019. Meanwhile, overall holiday sales in the U.S. increased by nearly 11% since 2019, with a 61% increase in e-commerce sales, according to data from Mastercard.

While e-commerce captured lost brick-and-mortar sales over Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM), not all merchants benefitted. Deal strength, inventory and site performance have emerged as key performance differentiators for online brands.

What will move the needle for shoppers this year? With an indebted nod to Shopify’s president Harley Finkelstein, who created this annual prospectus for 2018, here are five trends that I believe are poised to transform shopping for the better in 2022.

1. Mobile Shopping (Actually, Really) Takes Over

I know, I know. Every year, a business guru with giant forearms tells you why mobile is the future of e-commerce. But we’ve been living in that future for a while, with mobile shopping accounting for just over half of online sales on the Shopify platform since 2014. In 2021, mobile shopping from merchants on the Shopify platform hit a watershed, capturing 71% of online sales over BFCM.

(Full disclosure: P3 Media is a Shopify partner.)

Mobile commerce has been buoyed by the rise of branded shopping apps, 5G wireless, faster e-commerce platforms and seamless social shopping. With technology at a tipping point, I predict that customers are likely to buy from their phones more than ever this year.

Expect more branded shopping apps, more personalized text message (SMS) marketing campaigns and a flood of branded TikTok and Instagram content, all of which were often outperforming revenue drivers in 2021.

2. The End Of The Slow Web

As we just discussed, one reason mobile sales now outpace desktop sales is that technology has caught up with our desire for convenience. But just as adding a lane to a highway can increase traffic rather than improve it, introducing better tech doesn’t fulfill our expectations so much as enlarge them. Mobile shoppers tend to expect a better experience than ever now. And in a world where convenience is king, “better” often means faster.

How much does site speed impact sales? One analysis found that, for load times of zero and five seconds, “Website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time.”

There are lots of ways to improve your site speed no matter which e-commerce platform you use. But one great method is to move to a mobile-first software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. At P3 Media, an e-commerce marketing agency, we’ve seen this type of platform boost mobile conversion rates for our clients as much as 66% overnight.

3. Increasing Focus On Sustainability

Trends pass, but our growing concern over the impact of e-commerce on the planet is a sea change. In the U.S., 71% of millennials say climate change is our most pressing social issue. And we’re voting with our dollars, too. In 2020, IBM found that over two-thirds of purpose-driven consumers will pay a premium of 35% for a more sustainable purchase.

In response, companies are offering products conceived to be gentler on the planet. These brands often use low-impact dyes and upcycled materials, and many also offset shipping emissions by integrating sustainably focused checkout software.

A great example of sustainable fashion is ThredUp, which has systematized brand buy-back and resale programs, reducing fabric waste. Meanwhile, ready-made corporate social responsibility programs, like 1% for the Planet and Fashion Makes Change, are helping established brands weave sustainability into their DNA.

With so much at stake and so many resources for merchants interested in sustainability, I believe 2022 will be the year when online brands begin wasting less to make more.

4. Supply Challenges Create New Engagement Opportunities

In October, I ordered a pair of Reeboks from Urban Outfitters. They arrived after Christmas, but I wasn’t upset. Every time my fulfillment date changed, I got an email explaining the delay, with an option to cancel my order. Those touches preserved my sale; although I had to wait, I was never in the dark.

With the global supply chain in flux, we’ve all grown accustomed to waiting longer for orders. But we haven’t grown accustomed to waiting weeks or months for an update. We simply won’t tolerate radio silence.

In 2022, I predict that more brands will turn delays into demand by adding “preorder” and “notify me when available” functionalities to their shopping experiences. Routing these notifications through email and SMS will be crucial to keep shoppers engaged, and timely communication around fulfillment will become a competitive differentiator.

5. Everyone Will Try “Buy Now, Pay Later”

Installment plans are as old as shopping, but so-called “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) payment options are new to e-commerce. Spoiler: They’re already hugely popular. From 2020 to 2021, the use of a “buy now, pay later” service by American adults increased by 48%. Fifty-five percent of consumers have already tried BNPL at least once, and a study from Juniper Research projects BNPL sales to grow from $226 billion in 2021 to $995 billion by 2026.

BNPL’s heaviest users are shoppers with light credit histories who make purchases with debit cards. But I see that changing quickly as e-commerce giants like Amazon add BNPL options to their payment gateways.

BNPL still only makes up a small proportion of online sales, but shoppers are adopting the convenience of installment payments at record rates. By the end of 2022, I predict it will be a ubiquitous checkout option, putting all kinds of goods within reach of more shoppers.


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