When we hear “consumer,” we rarely visualize ourselves—yet we become one every time we open an app or visit a website. Viewed this way, the oft-cited growth of ecommerce during the pandemic resonates on a level beyond the transactional: to anticipate the market, we must first know our own needs.
2020 saw a decade’s worth of ecommerce growth in six months, according to Google President of Commerce Bill Ready, and 2022 is the first year that ecommerce spending is predicted by Adobe to reach $1 trillion. Such staggering progress is shaped by consumers’ continuing need for support during a difficult and uncertain time—and the ability of ecommerce to provide that reassurance.
Accordingly, the most influential market forces in 2022 are consumer data strategy and personalization, data security, hybrid media marketing, B2B interaction, brand revision, and the further integration of digital with physical, especially when it comes to the market share of digital-native companies. New releases by Adobe and BigCommerce, and the introduction of “derived data” by Optimizely, may reshape operations and storefronts.
New releases: BigCommerce
In his 2022 letter, BigCommerce CEO Brent Bellm lays out innovations in operations, headless storefront management, and international markets. New features for developers include Widget Builder, Product Sort Order API, Tax Provider API, Custom Templates Associations API, new data in GraphQL Storefront API and a Next.js sample app. For headless operations, BigCommerce has launched new partnerships with front-end solutions such as Next.js, Uniform, Shogun Frontend, and Amplience.
Alongside existing initiatives in France, the Netherlands, and the APAC region, in 2022 BigCommerce plans formal market entries in Latin America (including Mexico, Chile and Argentina), Germany, Spain, the Nordics, and Benelux. There will be further release of enterprise capabilities such as multi-location inventory and distributed commerce. The most transformational update is expected to be multi-storefront (MSF) capability, which allows merchants to create and manage multiple Stencil and headless storefronts within a single BigCommerce store. MSF has launched in beta and will be fully released later in 2022.
Lastly, BigCommerce will continue and improve partnerships with Google, Walmart, Amazon, TikTok, Wish, and Mercado Libre, and merchant services with the recent acquisition of Feedonomics, a product feed optimization and syndication tool that serves 28% of the top 1000 US retail ecommerce sites and provides third-party demand generation, advertising, and marketplace selling.
New Releases: Adobe
Adobe has two important releases: Adobe Commerce 2.4.4 in March 2022 and, announced on January 20, the Real-Time CDP (Customer Data Platform) technical practitioner certification. Attainment of the certification will result in a digitized badge for use on LinkedIn and elsewhere.
CDPs offer unified cross-channel data, consistent modality interactions, and secure first-party data strategy, as they bypass third-party cookie deprecation and privacy concerns. Adobe Real-Time CDP allows customers to build actionable unified profiles and use governance controls to guarantee responsible data use.
Later in the year, Adobe Commerce 2.4.4 will be released. The program utilizes the newest version of PHP (8.1) to offer notable performance boost, strong B2B and B2C capabilities, and enhanced headless support. Pre-release is scheduled for February 22 and open source on March 8. Feature and security patch releases will be on April 26, June 21, August 9, and October 11. Two-week early access is provided for Adobe Commerce merchants and all partners.
Consumer data: strategy, security, personalization
Consumer personalization is key, and to define it, we must go to the source. According to a recent McKinsey report, consumers associate personalization with “being made to feel special.” In other words, they want sellers to invest in the relationship, not the transaction.
The report suggests post-purchase check-ins, how-to videos, and review requests. Later, a consumer survey of what’s important identifies relevant product and service recommendations, tailored messaging, targeted promotions, and celebrations of milestones.
Convenience also ranks high: that same survey’s top category is easy navigation of store space. And 70% of consumers are more likely to spend at a retailer that offers their preferred payment method. A 2022 review of BigCommerce praised its integrations with PayPal and other payment gateways.
But don’t forget that convenience goes beyond attracting a sale. More consumers means more site traffic, which means more necessity for functionality. According to Forbes, every loading second counts: one to three seconds could lead to 32% bounce probability, while one to six seconds increases bounce probability by 106%. Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace, and Magento consistently rank at the top of ecommerce platform web performance lists.
Security is likewise essential. Along with Adobe Commerce’s CDP certification, other organizations are ensuring customer data is used responsibly. In 2021, BigCommerce enabled two-factor authentication (2FA) for all store users. Showing customers that they can trust you with their data is an implicit declaration of respect for their information and, thus, a potential way to build trust and customer loyalty.
In addition to security and personalization, some are focusing on customer retention. Optimizely reports a priority shift toward maximizing customer lifetime value rather than attracting new buyers. To this end, Optimizely presents a new concept: derived data.
Derived data is new data that is created by combining and processing existing raw data; it provides information that is not available from existing data. For instance, a data set that contains customer demographics can be cross-referenced with a data set that contains their buying preferences, which may reveal new insights about buying preferences by age, gender, and education level.
In this vein, when revising a brand or generating personalization initiatives, Optimizely advocates “letting data make the tough decisions.” In a recent CMS shift, Optimizely evaluated and prioritized their content in terms of relevancy, traffic, and structure to determine what would be moved, moved with adjustments, or left behind. Design teams were able to form a rebranding list to work from, determine teaser image needs, and identify inconsistencies in logos and products.
Accordingly, Optimizely stresses the need for symbiosis between marketing and tech departments. Such symbiosis is necessary to develop and implement data strategy and drive growth, especially being that digital-native companies are increasingly competitive: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet stocks rose 37% during the 2020 pandemic. If non-digital-native companies do not innovate, digital-native companies stand to continue monopolizing their market share.
Hybrid media marketing
According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect personalized business interactions—and 76% get frustrated when they don’t occur. With an eye toward such consumer expectation, marketing expert Ann Handley, on a recent episode of the BigCommerce podcast “Make It Big,” lists three areas as key for 2022: email newsletters, video, and virtual events (such as webinars).
Topping Handley’s list is email newsletters. Newsletters provide a marketing opportunity that is, uniquely, free of algorithm. Knowing when, where, and to whom the information will appear is a rich juncture indeed—ripe for data-driven tailoring. In addition, personalization seems to matter most when it’s in a communication that the consumer can reasonably expect to be transactional, like newsletters. Reportedly, consumers do not like ads that are out of place on social media platforms. When it is successful, social media marketing—especially user-generated content (UGC)—is useful and lucrative, but it still does not provide brands quite the same control over their information, nor the ability to personally connect with a customer.
Handley also emphasizes the importance of “hybrid experiences,” which utilize the crossover between the real and the digital. Hybrid experience has already occurred out of necessity, such as the growth in BOPIS (Buy Online Pick-up In Store), and is likely to continue accelerating.
We are here to meet market needs, which are often emotional: to supply the next ring that someone uses to propose to her long-term partner, the next favorite toy that a child remembers for the rest of his life, the next memento someone carries with them to a new city. Every day, we slip in and out of roles, recycling and reciprocating our perspectives, yet rarely consolidating them.
In a study of gift-giving habits, Francis J. Flynn and Gabrielle S. Adams found that despite the information people gained from their role as a gift-receiver, they were not any further informed in their buying habits as a gift-giver. Commerce, in a way, is like gift-giving. Profiles drawn by data can superficially answer the question of who consumers are, but equally as important is who they are shopping for, and why—which are much harder to determine.
Personalization is 2022’s top ecommerce trend, but it means more than data-driven advertising. It means follow up and through: showing customers that brands value their choice to spend their hard-earned money there, and are genuinely interested in who they are and who they care about.