Looking Ahead: Predicting the Trends that will Shape eCommerce in 2022

2021 was a year full of lessons and learnings for retailers, but what is 2022 likely to hold? What should businesses be wary of and where do the opportunities lie?

Predicting the future is famously difficult (particularly in the age of COVID-led curveballs), but Wunderkind’s EMEA leadership team recently sat down to contemplate where retailers should be focusing their energies this year.

Here are some of their insights.

Wulfric Light-Wilkinson, GM, EMEA

“For me, 2022 is going to be the year of personalised marketing. The demise of third-party cookies is just around the corner, and retailers will be thinking (with increased urgency) about how to effectively reach and target key audiences once these are a thing of the past.

“Gathering and making use of first-party data is going to play a vital role in how brands segment and interact with customers. Customers now expect brands to personalise content and provide them with offers and communications they’ll find valuable – essentially, to anticipate their needs.

“Personalisation is about building a relationship that benefits both parties, and with access to the right data and the ability to understand it, brands are going to become much better at doing that.”

Jon Halley, Regional Vice President of Sales, EMEA

“I can see a lot of brands adapting to increased levels of social and ethical consumer awareness, from the products we buy to how they’re packaged and where they’re sourced. This will be heightened across Gen Z, who are vocal champions of moral and social justice.

“In 2020 and 2021, numerous brands—despite there being a clear market opportunity to capitalise on—chose instead to make their services freely available to frontline workers, for example, to help them deal with the pandemic. The mindfulness apps Calm and Headspace really stood out for me, and helped restore a little faith in humanity!

“We often talk about brands who have successfully created communities—great products, engaging content and the feeling of belonging – think GymShark—and this notion of ‘community’ will become increasingly important as customers look to invest in brands that have more to offer than a product, service, discount or free shipping.”

Danielle Auerbach, Regional Vice President of Customer Success, EMEA

“In 2021 we saw brands really invest in their owned channels and that’s a trend I expect will accelerate in 2022. Retailers are realising the benefits of being able to reach their customers directly (and cost-efficiently), while building long-term relationships.

“I also see customer lifetime value as something more brands prioritise this year. It’s actually quite surprising that it isn’t a higher item on the collective agenda, particularly given the volatile nature of customer acquisition costs through third-party channels like Google or Facebook. With the twin pressures of Brexit and the pandemic putting a squeeze on marketing budgets this year, nurturing existing customer relationships is one of the most compelling ways to increase online revenues and protect margins.

“2021 saw everyone adapting to the ‘new normal’, and 2022 will be about realising that it’s not ‘new’ anymore – it’s just the way things are. Numerous brands upped their game when it came to adapting and evolving last year, and that ability to change and improve is going to serve them well over the next 12 months.”

Cian Agnew, Executive Director of Client Partnerships, UK and Europe

“The core topics that were discussed throughout 2021—namely personalisation, the end of third-party cookies and the importance of first-party data—will still be on every retailer’s agenda – and should perhaps be pushed nearer the top. Brands that haven’t yet figured out what they’ll do when cookies disappear in 2023 really need to make that a priority.

“There’s also going to be a lot of discussion around how to reach customers. What channels are more effective? Email has been the go-to for years, but I expect the text messaging resurgence to continue. Brands are already using text effectively but it’s a channel that has much more to offer. I’m confident that in the next 12 months we’ll see more retailers adopting and benefiting from text.”

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Joe Phelan

Joe Phelan is the Content Marketing Manager, EMEA at Wunderkind.