As retailers, trying to keep up with consumers’ changing spending habits since 2019 has been nearly impossible. Pre-pandemic, U.S. shoppers went wild for in-person services such as pop-up stores of their favorite brands, collectively spending almost $10 trillion, according to Deloitte. When the pandemic hit, everything shifted. Many in-person services were no longer available, meaning brand-name experiences quickly ceased and consumer spending began to wane — at first.
Eventually, people began to open their wallets again, with many buyers turning more brand-agnostic than before COVID-19, per McKinsey & Co. research. Nearly three-quarters of those who ditched beloved brands found the experience rewarding enough to continue the practice. That brings us to the present, where post-pandemic spending — for services like travel and goods like apparel — has massively increased. A government-based analysis of Q2 2022 consumer sales shows a year-over-year uptick of 6.8 percent, with more than $257 billion flowing into the retail marketplace.
What does this mean for your e-commerce business? Consumer trends post-COVID-19 show that adults are in a shopping state of mind. However, many are ditching brand loyalty and are more “up for grabs” than ever. As retailers, now is the time to focus on your customer journey and make the most of this rare opportunity to hold on to your fans and win more market share.
Here are four ways to leverage 2022 online retail trends and make them work for your business:
1. Upgrade Your Visuals
People are driven by images and videos. Nearly 70 percent of people would rather watch videos than read content. You won’t get very far if your website design isn’t eye-catching, your product pics aren’t stellar, and your videos lack pizzazz. You need to deliver valuable visuals that look attractive while also helping consumers feel comfortable spending money on what you’re selling. Every visual you publish should elicit a “wow!” If yours aren’t getting any responses, now is the time to improve.
2. Weave a Solid Brand Story
The narrative you build around your brand needs to be relevant to snag the attention of your target audience. Aim to be authentic and honest but seek to drive home the emotional meaning behind your brand, vision, and origin as well. The better you describe your story, the more compelling it will be to customers looking for brand alignment. People like feeling as if they’re a part of something important, like a movement. Let your passion boil over into the stories you tell.
3. Embrace a Niche
Being the leader in a niche industry makes your brand stand out and attract audience attention. The deeper you go into your niche, the tighter your customer base community can become. You might have a smaller total addressable market than another brand, but you can still construct a tight-knit group of followers. Just be sure to showcase your expertise and thought leadership for maximum impact.
4. Get Comfortable with Social Media
Social media is extremely powerful. Nearly seven out of 10 adults are on Facebook, and even more use YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok regularly. What’s more, 39 percent of shoppers in the U.S. say they’ve bought something on social media. If your brand isn’t present during your audience’s point of need, you’re missing out on valuable conversions. And let’s face it, social media will only become a more significant asset for e-commerce sellers as Gen Z continues to gain more disposable income.
Consumers have changed their habits. They haven’t stopped buying, though. To future-proof your e-commerce business, ditch your marketing plans from 2019, 2020, and 2021. It’s time for something new.
The author, Jason Streiff, is the founder and president of Streiff Marketing, an Amazon rep agency specializing in retail. Jason has spent more than a decade working in sales and marketing.