Tag: 2022

Big e-commerce trends to look out for in 2022

Given the dynamic nature of technology, it follows that new trends are forever emerging in the e-commerce space.

Today, people seek out platforms that not only offer ease-of-use and convenient payment options, but those that embrace the latest technologies to make the overall shopping experience more exciting.

In South Africa, there have been high levels of innovation and change in e-commerce in recent years, according to The Online Retail Industry in South Africa 2021 report.

Bigger companies are investing heavily in tech or acquiring startup online retailers as sales soar.

More than R30-billion in online sales was recorded in 2020, a study by World Wide Worx found last year. This was driven in the main by Covid-19 lockdowns that moved people away from traditional in-store purchasing.

However even with an easing of restrictions online buying remains high, and will continue to do so. Data by Statista market and consumer data projects 31.6-million South Africans could be converted to online shopping by 2024, according to Business Report.

This means the onus is now on e-tailers and online marketplaces to ensure their platforms are front and centre when it comes to meeting consumer demand in the digital space, as competition is intensifying at a rate of knots.

Anne-Marie Green, marketing manager of South African internet auction and online marketplace bidorbuy, has paid close attention to emerging trends abroad, as these will invariably reach South Africa in 2022.

“The scale of some more mature e-commerce markets means they are open to experimentation by integrating other tools like social selling and chatbots to further enhance the online shopping experience,” Green says.

“Despite recent growth, South Africa remains a relatively underdeveloped e-commerce market, but studying developments overseas can help us predict and shape the future here.”

One of the bigger developments is the emergence of more payment options.

This stems from the fact that consumers like to be presented with a choice.

“This extends beyond the products on sale to shipping and payment options that customers can select during checkout,” Green says.

“Payment options such as instalments; buy now, pay later; and interest-free credit make e-commerce more accessible, and remove barriers to purchasing bigger-ticket items. Diversified payment options also mean that the e-commerce experience is better aligned to the diverse budgets and spending habits of consumers, and help to create trust in the positioning of ecommerce brands as being there for buyers.”

Something else that is taking the sector by storm is augmented reality (AR).

It builds on the traditional retail idea of customers being able to examine, touch or try on an item before making a purchase.

“Technological innovations such as AR will help customers to visualise how a product will look on them or in their home, and be an important differentiator for the e-commerce companies that bring this technology to market first.

Green has also noted that environmental concerns are starting to play an increasing role in shopping habits, as consumers “dig deeper into companies’ green credentials”. That means that e-commerce platforms have to ensure every aspect of their value chain is authentically sustainable, especially when it comes to delivery and packaging.

Another change to look out for in 2022 is the introduction of voice search to e-commerce platforms.

“Consumers are increasingly comfortable with asking their devices for information, advice and recommendations, and this is likely to influence the products they see and buy online in 2022,” Green says.

Lastly, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will play an even greater role than they have already.

“If you’ve noticed that the best e-commerce sites seem to know what you want to buy almost before you do, then you’ve already experienced an important trend,” Green says.

“The integration of AI and ML is allowing sites to predict the products that are most likely to appeal to a particular consumer. AI can assess datasets and is adept at detecting and mapping out patterns, trends and anomalies. Of course, AI is only as good as the data available to it, but the increasing volumes of online transactions mean that datasets are expanding all the time.”

In March, it will be exactly two years since South Africa recorded its first Covid-19 case, and with new variants predicted for some time to come, it goes without saying that e-commerce will be affected.

It is something Green has come to accept.

“The pandemic has already transformed the shopping habits of South Africans, and its future trajectory will directly impact on e-commerce sale volumes and values. Spikes and troughs in infection rates will likely be mirrored in real time or at a slight lag by similar patterns in e-commerce activity,” she says.

“But the move towards online shopping is likely to be a lasting trend, with reluctance to visit public places and mingle with crowds an ongoing factor in many people’s decision-making.”

By Amanda Schiavo for Benefit News

The workplace has dramatically evolved over the course of the last two years, and as employers prepare for the new year, they’ll need to take into account how employees’ priorities have shifted if they want to attract and retain top talent.

Issues like greater flexibility, permanent remote work, greater investments into mental health support and more focus on diversity and equality are top priorities for employees in 2022, according to Anu Karwa, vice president of people operations at video content creation platform, Socialive. In order to combat the great resignation, employers will need to lead, not follow, in these areas.

“To create an environment that lets people shine and be their authentic selves, practice inclusive leadership and respect everyone’s perspectives, opinions and diverse voices,” she says. “We will begin to see concrete changes being implemented to make a difference with deeper and more thoughtful approaches.”

Karwa shared six predictions regarding some workplace trends she expects employers will see in 2022.

Hybrid work is sticking around
Karwa anticipates that remote work is here to stay, and flexibility will be key. Employees will set their own work hours and employers will need to adjust their hybrid work policies to encourage collaboration from everywhere.

“In 2022, to accommodate more employees starting and ending the work day at different times, organizations will need to optimize hybrid work processes to ensure consistent employee engagement and enhance productivity,” she says.

Meetings will be revamped
Instead of ineffective video calls, employers can experiment with recording short, informative videos with detailed explanations of what is expected, cutting down on the need to coordinate schedules, Karwa says.

Employees will be able to go back and review these videos when they have questions, eliminating “inefficient follow-up meetings that interrupt schedules and allowing for more heads-down work time and increased productivity,” she says.

Diversity and inclusion will take centre stage
Going into 2022, employers will need to realise that employees don’t want lip service when it comes to their diversity and inclusion efforts — they want real actionable changes.

“Employees will expect ongoing initiatives that are visible throughout every part of their company, making DEI practices normal, not outliers,” Karwa says.

The focus will be on keeping women at work
As women make their way back into the workforce, employers will need to put policies in place that will have a significant positive impact, like flexibility and even part-time work, Karwa says. This will allow them to manage their jobs and home responsibilities.

“We’ll see employers provide more scheduling flexibility for working mothers and create more part-time roles than they ever have before,” she says. “More hybrid organisations, in particular, will convert unused space into childcare centres, which will enable more women to participate in the workforce.”

Digital tools will combat the great resignation
While it may be tough to conduct in-person interviews right now, that doesn’t mean prospective employees don’t need to get a feel for the company’s atmosphere. Potential hires want to connect with their future colleagues, and employers will be turning to more engaging video and audio content in 2022, Karwa says.

“Employers will need to find ways to display their culture in a way that is both virtual and real,” she says.

Leaders must recognise and address employee burnout
Employees expect their organisations to take a holistic approach to their overall well-being, and addressing mental health concerns is a big part of that. Employees want to know their workplace leaders understand they are struggling and provide them with benefits and solutions that can help them tackle their emotional stress.

“Companies will no longer be able to implement quick-fix, band-aid-style approaches to resolve deeper issues that result in burnout,” Karwa says. “The entire leadership team at forward-thinking companies will address the root causes that are leading to poor employee engagement and turnover.”

 

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