The pandemic has been an era-defining event, and this impact has certainly been felt in the realm of social commerce, creating a whole new, paradigm-shifting way that sellers and buyers can interact.
Social commerce was already shaped by the growing wave of new mobile and social platforms over the past decade. The pandemic highlighted the continuing shift to online, mobile, and remote platforms as a business driver in a time when traditional commerce models were challenged.
Will we see the types of trends that took hold during the pandemic continue to grow in 2022? The short answer is yes, but we should also keep our eye on pre-pandemic trends that could finally have a big moment in 2022, along with newer trends independent of the pandemic that will also hit the ground running.
Here are the biggest growth areas to look out for in 2022.
Mobile commerce sales are expected to double between now and 2025. Businesses would be wise to build toward this trend by giving shoppers more options to browse and purchase through mobile platforms. If those same businesses want to avoid the work of building proprietary mobile storefronts themselves, it is easier than ever to set up branded storefronts on platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
The advent of “curbside pickup” during the pandemic also helped fuel an increased emphasis on mobile commerce. The 2020 holiday season saw 39 percent of eCommerce purchases made on a smartphone, with that number expected to grow in 2021.
Perhaps no trend in social commerce, or anywhere else, became more essential throughout the pandemic than live video. The US live streaming market is expected to reach $11 billion by the end of 2021 and hit $25 billion by 2023. As with mobile commerce and online shopping, live streaming will become an integral feature in post-pandemic life.
Shopping via live video strengthens the interactive feedback loop between retailer and consumer in real-time, creating a more engaging out-of-store experience. The uptake with big brands is sure to continue in 2022 with large retailers like Macy’s and Walmart both recently launching live shopping experiences.
The rise of the social media influencer was one of the most impactful trends that grew out of the social media boom from the past decade and could likely become the dominant model driving social commerce in the 2020s. Influencers are even now becoming their own brands, using their established name to develop their own lines of products from cosmetics to cookware to clothing.
Influencers don’t only succeed by meeting customers where they are increasingly spending more of their time, they are also adept at creating viral content, which can help drive increased traffic for existing brands. The role of influencers will continue to be a sizable element of social commerce, with the trend expanding to small and mid-size businesses with a new focus on niche and micro-influencers (fewer than 1,000 followers), who can drive more targeted business at reduced cost.
Concurrent with the boom of the social media influencer has also come new emphasis on digital clothing and sampling. Major fashion retailers are moving away from catwalks, mannequins, and department store changing rooms to digital clothing modeled by these influencers. In some cases, these aren’t even the influencers themselves, but digital avatars.
Platforms like Snap are also working with retailers to help them become more accustomed to layering in digital clothing and augmented reality, a feature even more traditional retailers are sure to become comfortable with in 2022. This trend should only be accelerated by the rise of the Metaverse, where user avatars will be in need of digital accessories.
Everyone is getting into the NFT game, from artists to athletes to minor celebrities. In the most simple terms possible, NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are a way of establishing the chain of ownership for a digital good similar to the way ownership is determined for physical goods and items. Conceptually, you can see how impactful this can be for social commerce, especially in the era of online retail and influencers.
If NFTs continue as a popular avenue of commerce, it will impact the very nature of the retailer-customer relationship itself, with retailers converting rewards, and whole supplies, to digital items. Whatever the NFT endgame, it will certainly be a 2022 touchstone and something everyone in social commerce should continue to consider.
No matter the trends that take hold, you can bet on at least one broad, significant one: in a world that changes at such a rapid pace, social commerce isn’t going away anytime soon. US social commerce is estimated to reach nearly $80 billion by 2025, and if any of these trends have a breakout in 2022, that number could be a conservative estimate.
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