The pandemic has rapidly transformed the e-commerce landscape, with revenues in the sector predicted by Statista to grow to $5.4 trillion by 2022.
As consumer habits have shifted and businesses have increasingly moved online, the e-commerce industry has grown exponentially and become the ‘new normal’ in consumer purchasing – a trend expected to further accelerate in 2022.
The next 12 months will see an increase in mobile commerce amongst consumers, a rise in diverse payment methods such as installments, further adoption of loyalty programs and greater importance placed on convenience and speed.
As the popularity of shopping via phones continues to rise, consumers have developed a mobile-first mentality, valuing brands with seamless mobile apps. Statista reports mobile commerce has grown year-on-year since 2016 and will start to dominate online sales in 2022, given its ease and speed compared to in-person shopping.
E-commerce will continue to attract participants from both sides of the equation: consumers and companies. Some sectors are particularly predisposed to this, such as electronics (mobiles and home appliances) due to price competition and the new trend of installments from different providers (banks and platforms).
The growing acceptance of alternative payment methods, and the flexibility they create, will attract more customers, with 62% of Egyptian consumers trying new payment methods in the last year. As installment payments become the preferred payment method amongst the young, it is vital for retailers to adopt diverse payment methods to retain customers and reduce ‘cart abandonment.’ A recent survey by MasterCard found 68% of Egyptian shoppers are more loyal to retailers offering multiple payment options, and prefer to shop at small businesses offering diverse payment methods.
The ease of delivery and returns/exchanges provided for via online shopping, will also place e-commerce on a pedestal in 2022. Companies must meet customer demand for a seamless, and convenient experience. Free returns are forecast to increase in 2022, with 47% of online shoppers indicating they will shop elsewhere, if returns come with a cost. The pandemic has heavily influenced the importance of returns/exchanges being as simple and safe as possible. Expect this trend to consolidate and see in-home pickups and free returns in 2022.
There is a read across to customer service, customers need, and appreciate, support to navigate e-commerce platforms and benefit from them. Many regions globally, including the MENA region, have only started to embrace online shopping relatively recently. To keep customers and stay competitive, customer service will be vital.
As ecommerce competition increases, customer retention will also be key. 2022 will see increases in subscription and loyalty programs, as means to reward customers. Cashback platforms will continue their momentum and contribute to the ‘personalisation’ of the shopping experience, whilst increasing purchase frequency, customer referrals and retention. Customers crave simple, straightforward, valuable rewards requiring little additional effort, and the adoption of loyalty programs has enhanced ecommerce’s edge over in-store shopping.
The direction of travel is clear: ecommerce’s meteoric rise will continue in 2022. Platforms providing special offers, alternative payment methods and making return/exchanges easy, will attract more demand and adopt innovative measures to consolidate this opportunity.
With customers expecting a seamless and convenient shopping experience now more than ever before, the priority for e-commerce platforms will be customer retention and ensuring the best possible shopping experience.
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