Marketing leaders are extremely optimistic about the future. To kick off 2022, Sitecore asked its global partners to submit their 2022 commerce predictions. Read this guest article to find out what you need to know as you build your strategy.
In the last few years, we’ve experienced unpredictable disruption that has accelerated digital transformation across each and every industry across the globe. In 2022 and beyond, we expect that acceleration to continue.
To kick off 2022, we asked our Sitecore global partners – all experts in commerce – to submit their 2022 commerce predictions in order to help you prepare for what’s ahead.
Four key themes emerged:
Consumers Expect Omnichannel Personalization
As enterprises emerge out of the pandemic, marketing leaders are all out blend physical and digital channels, create the most impact experiences, and drive-up customer loyalty. And personalisation across the channels remains a top agenda item for marketers.
The “Think With Google” report shows that omnichannel strategies create up to 80% of in-store visits from the customer and improve the purchase rates dramatically (250% vs single channel strategy). So what are most important trends that you need to watch out for and what is the biggest challenge to personalisation? Here’s what leaders say:
An omnichannel view of the customer will drive the most impactful commerce experiences.
- When a customer interaction takes place, buyers expect the brand to “get them,” no matter where they’ve interacted with the brand before. Buyers now expect that merchants know them, their product evaluation process, where they’re at in the buying journey, and the products they are most likely to want or need to purchase. Companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared with 33% of companies with weak omnichannel strategies (Forbes.com). In 2022, we’ll see smart merchants and marketers prioritizing this synchronized, omnichannel commerce experience for customers.
—Corey Miller, Account Executive, RDA Corp
Personalization will ensure loyalty.
- As e-commerce expands, many companies are looking to personalize their customer’s journey, from browsing to purchasing and delivery. Personalization ensures memorability, something that brands desperately crave. Shopping online can feel impersonal at times, and consumers may sometimes forget which brands they are actually shopping with. Personalizing a customer’s e-commerce experience is the key to keeping them satisfied. Even one poor product recommendation keeps some shoppers from avoiding certain sites altogether. Targeting both browsing and purchase habits and using customer segmentation to make stronger recommendations will help customers find the products they need and ensure they feel valued throughout the shopping experience.
—Thomas John, Sr. Director of E-commerce & National Practice Lead, Rightpoint
- Personalization used to be about product recommendations: You bought this vacuum cleaner, you might also want to get these vacuum cleaner bags. That’s table stakes now. Personalization has moved beyond just the shopping experience into the product itself – customized pricing and offers as well as bespoke products and services that give the buyer control over both the buying experience and the purchase on the other end.
—Dave Michela, VP Digital Solutions, Sitecore MVP, Horizontal Digital
The blending of digital and physical experiences will become the expectation.
- Consumer expectations continue to shift from seeing digital commerce and transactions as a utility, to a connected component of a broader brand experience that exists across channels. We see this in the way that the blending of digital and physical experiences is becoming commonplace. Today brands can use your mobile app and website usage to support their in-store experience for live inventory, location information, store specific pricing and enhanced product content – all while delivering on the expectation of individualized service. To meet this need, companies are shifting their investment in technology from channel focused platforms such as Web CMS and shopfront to composable, API native platforms. These focus on delivering enterprise-wide capabilities that are API first, open to integration, and designed to be remixed across existing and new consumer channels.
—Eric Orton, Executive Technology Director, AKQA
Challenges executing scalable omnichannel commerce will emerge.
- The shopping experience will quickly become – and is already today in many cases – highly reliant on real-time data and signals across multiple channels to meet the ambitions and expectations of buyers. In retail, areas like inventory management and scalable order processing are prime examples of features that need a complete overhaul in many businesses for digital commerce to become a highly effective channel. How do you manage inventory when continuous sales occur in multiple channels from individual customers across the world? Especially if you want to provide that customer with the personalized experience the modern shopper expects.
—Anders Skjønaa, Senior Director, EMEA Sitecore Digital Category Lead, EPAM Systems, Inc.
B2B Will Become B2Me
The impact of the last two years of disruption was also keenly felt by B2B customers. There is a visible shift from procuring products and services from the same supplier or vendor (often based on price points) to seeking out those who provide the most seamless experience (even if it means paying a premium) price. The “Experience Is Everything” PwC report shows that suppliers who provide better experience often charge up to 16% higher on their products and services.Marketing leaders across the spectrum think this shift in mindset is only going to accelerate over 2022 in the B2B sector.
B2B customers will expect a hyper-personalized B2C experience.
- As digitization in the B2B space evolves, business need to move towards a B2Me mindset. This means building a world for the B2B buyer which is hyper-personalized, convenient, seamless, and integrated across devices and platforms, similar to what B2C customers expect today.
—Prabhakar Kaushik, Director of Marketing, Altudo
- We’re seeing a major blurring of the lines between what were once clearly differentiated B2B and B2C experiences. Today it’s more like B-to-everybody. B2B players in particularly are realizing that ultimately it’s still just another human being on the other side of the screen. So B2C-style experiences that are engaging as well as functional are becoming the norm in B2B.
—David Michela, VP Digital Solutions, Horizontal Digital
Investment in digital will increase drastically in B2B.
- The biggest increase in digital investment will most likely come from the manufacturing sector, as the need for company-wide, game-changing software projects will emerge. They will have to dramatically increase spending on digital and commerce to keep up with international players in the B2B space. We’ll see them first invest in futureproofing their back-end systems focusing on efficiency gains in their supply chain and business processes. Once established, those systems can then be used to roll out customer-facing front ends. These highly customized solutions will then answer the needs of their, often very specific, audiences.
—David Hefendehl, Digital Strategist, netzkern – part of Macaw
A focus on B2B2C efforts will accelerate.
- 85% of C-level executives and marketing managers acknowledge that personalization is essential to the modern marketing ecosystem. This means they must always gather customer insights and convert them into personalized contact moments and service offerings. Due to their business complexity, B2B companies are usually too far from end customers so they haven’t, historically, prioritized things like personalization. But we’ll start to see more and more of them choosing a different path. These forward-looking B2B companies will use digital channels and marketplaces to get in touch directly with end customers. We’ve seen this trend accelerate already through the COVID-19 pandemic, and that will only continue.
—Marcel Nijland, Digital Strategist, Macaw
Commerce Experiences Will Go Far Beyond The Simple Shopping Cart
Ecommerce in 2022 is larger than just buying and selling online. Businesses leaders were already speaking out the ethical dimensions of ecommerce such as environmental and social impact before the pandemic. These topics have taken on a new urgency now. Market leaders have already introduced practices into their work that account for sustainability initiatives.
Furthermore, to stand out in the market, brands are building platforms for third-party sellers, using the voice of the customer to drive engagement, and blurring the lines between online and offline. Here’s what our partners say:
Brands will engage with marketplaces, or become one themselves, as part of their go-to-market strategy.
- With over 57% of consumer purchases flowing through digital marketplaces today, they can be a major benefit for meeting customers where and how they shop. In 2022 we don’t expect the accelerated shift in consumer buying behavior to slow down. And many large multi-brand retailers are opening online platforms to third party sellers, like Walmart, Kroger, Costco, and Wayfair. With many different partnerships to choose from, brands should engage with marketplaces as an extension of their broader go-to-market strategy, and have a clear roadmap for how they’ll find mutual success and stand-out from the competition.
—Anne Norman, Director of Digital Solutions, Sitecore MVP, Horizontal Digital
Sustainability will be prioritized and recyclable selling will accelerate.
- 2022 will hopefully be the year of increased sustainability – also in the world of digital commerce. We foresee companies expanding their digital offerings into recyclable selling – creating marketplaces for repeating and new customers, where not only new but also used and potentially refurbished products are included. This will add new complexities, like availability of products, and will require us to re-define “conversion” to focus not only on selling but also buying offers. API-first platforms like Sitecore OrderCloud will allow you to create solutions driving this full circle of complexity.
—Klaus Petersen, Global CTO, Alpha Solutions
Augmented reality will present a more realistic “in person” commerce alternative.
- Augmented reality for a more realistic in-person commerce experience is going to become much more prevalent in 2022 and beyond. With more consumers making large purchases online, this is going to become an expectation sooner rather than later. Users will want to experience more products in a first-person view. And companies that offer this ahead of their competition will have a crucial differentiator.
—Jonathan Price, Global Sitecore Practice Director & Sitecore MVP, Americaneagle.com
Social Commerce will accelerate.
- Social commerce has been the new potential channel for e-commerce explorations for the past 3 years with few companies making the investment in this channel. The major players like Instagram and TikTok have become research and discovery engines for brands. But I expect more fashion and cosmetic brands to take advantage of social commerce in 2022.
—Thomas John, Sr. Director of Ecommerce & National Practice Lead, Rightpoint
Modern e-Commerce Architecture Will Become The Default
Personalisation at scale is the biggest challenge ahead for marketers. Legacy, monolithic ecommerce platforms are bursting at the seams, as they try to accommodate the sheer volume and variety of online transactions. To overcome their limitations, marketers are now building bespoke, agile, cloud-native, API-first, ecommerce platforms.
The traditional silos between IT and marketing are being slowly dissolved in the name of composable ecommerce. The future, leaders think, belongs to those who innovate now and make this inevitable shift.
Composable architecture will drive innovation and allow brands to keep up.
- It will give companies the freedom to choose best of breed technologies to deliver the exact experience they want to create without being tied to a single vendor or technology stack. The pace of change in digital commerce is accelerating every year, with cutting edge technology today becoming mainstream tomorrow. As opposed to a monolithic architecture that locks you in to functionality offered by an all-in-one platform, a modular or composable approach allows you to build experiences like Lego blocks. By swapping out and adding components as and when you need them or when better ones become available, you not only build a platform that meets the needs of today but is also ready for the future.
—Rameez Akram, Senior Manager, Deloitte Digital
- Companies will invest massively in technology and especially in commerce technology to reach and serve customers in every shopping moment. To keep pace with dynamic and diverse changes in a fast-moving market, application leaders responsible for digital commerce should prepare for a “composable” approach: moving from monolith commerce suites to a commerce system which is composed of independent software components, each providing a particular business capability. As customers will expect new pandemic-era services to become the new normal, the ability to react in a way that’s fast, agile, and flexible will continue to increase. According to Gartner “by 2023, organizations that have adopted a composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.”
—Dennis Looks, Sr. Digital Strategy Consultant and Business Designer, IBM iX
Accelerated adoption of API-first commerce will accelerate the “commerce anywhere” approach.
- Digital commerce experiences will show at any given place and time, making it possible for a brand to engage with its customers anywhere and everywhere. Shoppable moments will begin to appear at every dimension possible.
—Roland Villemoes, CTO, Alpha Solutions
Brands will move towards the scalability, speed, and agility of cloud-native and headless platforms.
- To stand out versus competitors, brands will choose to build digital experiences to satisfy customer demand using headless techniques instead of customizing software. IT will continue to embrace the adoption of the cloud, using SaaS platforms for core commerce capabilities supported by custom microservices in the public cloud to tackle integration. And to support these initiatives, organizations will increase investments in their people to attract and retain talent, train on headless and cloud technologies, and augment transformation teams with specialized external resources.
—Walt Rolle, Global Head of Sitecore Competency, EPAM Systems, Inc.
- Scalability and flexibility to deliver personalized experiences on demand will be requirements of modern e-commerce architecture. If two years of living amid a pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that life comes at you fast, and change is fast. Tech stacks, then, will need rapid scalability baked in. As entire swathes of customers and businesses change their priorities at the drop of a hat, it will be crucial for companies to be able to roll out new features and solutions at scale, and rapidly. The environment these demands are changing in also requires the ability to scale fast. The good news is that brands and companies able to adapt will have the technological know-how to deliver the experiences both B2B and B2C buyers are craving, and even start to anticipate what they want next.
—Adrian Wakeham, Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand, SmartOSC
In 2022, we will see the death of the monolith.
- With the pandemic fundamentally reshaping how customers want to engage with organizations – brands’ digital experience has never been more important. But it’s not just about standing up a storefront. The digital experience expectation now requires businesses to be able to keep pace as the business landscape continues to change. It requires immersive and engaging experiences for customers who traditionally relied on physical experiences to “wow” them. The traditional monolithic e-commerce platform just cannot support this. It forces organizations to flex, or change, to support the platform rather than the platform accommodating the unique strengths of the customer. That’s why in 2022 I believe we’ll see the death of the monolith.
—Matt Watson, Technical Director, Switch
There will be a “grand pivot” from reactive to innovative digital strategy.
- In 2022, we’ll see brands pivot away from reactionary to innovation in their digital investment strategy, in what Forrester calls the “grand pivot.” Organizations that invest in their digital strategy from an innovation perspective instead of a test and learn perspective will find new ways to win and take market share from the slow movers within their category.
—Caleb Bryant, Director of Demand, Gorilla Group, a Wunderman Thompson company
In 2022 & Beyond, Composable Commerce will Empower Brands To Take Back Control & Own Their Commerce Roadmap.
- Being able to think innovatively and respond rapidly to the fast-changing market trends and demands, will be necessary to keep up. Shifting gears to meet customers where they are – across every channel and device – will be the key to commerce success.
—Sung Cho, Product Marketing Director, Commerce, Sitecore
That’s why the adoption and proliferation of composable commerce platforms will enable brands, across retail, manufacturing, distribution and more, to take back control of their commerce roadmap so that they can deliver these experience-first shopping and buying experiences consumers expect.
Sitecore creates human connections between brands and their customers with rich end-to-end content, seamless commerce, and always-on personalisation so brands can thrive in a world where, without a digital experience, there is no product.