4 Trends to Watch for Online UK Retailers

If 2020 was the year of the Pandemic, and 2021 was the year of attempting to return to normalcy, 2022 has been the year of accepting the new normal. But “accepting the new normal” is still akin to coming to grips with change, and that isn’t always easy. The changes coming to the digital landscape are going to have an effect on a number of things in the online retail space; from cookies, to NFTs, to retailer’s apps, brands are having to learn how to pivot as they see the landscape shifting rapidly before their eyes.

Retailers in the UK with an online presence are going to have to figure out how to do more than just cope with the coming trends, or miss out on the immense opportunities that they present. Here are four things retailers need to pay attention to in the modern online retail landscape:

Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies:

No one who shops online is a stranger to cookies; everyone has been followed around by that bag of dog food they searched on Google once for weeks on end. However, despite their seeming annoyness, brands are still relying on them heavily, with Innovid finding 51% of marketers are still planning on using them, rather than looking to phase out their use of cookies. This, combined with Apple’s and Google’s plans to increase security measures means that brands have a difficult and expensive road ahead if they want to get value out of their marketing spend. To be stagnant during this period, and simply throw more money down the same marketing avenues is not the solution to the changes that are coming. There are solutions that far exceed cookies in terms of providing people with relevant shopping experiences. Future facing ecommerce companies are heavily leaning on tech solutions to help them reach consumers and personalize their experiences online by making every interaction relevant and seamless, rather than relying on outdated tactics.

NFTs and the Metaverse:

As consumers increased their ecommerce spending over the course of the pandemic, this spending behavior was met with an interesting development in the online space; the rise of purely digital assets. This trend can be seen most clearly in the Facebook Metaverse and the growth of NFTs. And while it is far simpler for artists to digitize their artwork, or brands like Nike and Gucci to make digital versions of their products, this isn’t necessarily possible for every brand. Not every brand will see value in minting their own NFT, or find any possibility in creating a digital version of what they sell. Does this mean that brands are going to miss out on the digital asset wave? Forrester found that 56% of adults in the UK haven’t heard of NFTS, meaning that this is yet to be decided, and brands still have time to prepare their digital offerings. Supposedly, Facebook claims the real benefit of a purely digital world will be actualized with the Metaverse where digital objects will have a place to live, and brands will be able to provide meaningful value exchanges with consumers and leverage hybrid digital and physical experiences. This does, admittedly, still remain to be seen, but if the explosion in popularity of NFTs in 2021 and 2022 is anything to go off of then retailers should keep an eye on them in the future.

Catering to Guest Checkouts:

In a similar vein to how the rise of digital assets can be linked to modern society’s increased online presence, the increase in anonymous website visitors can be linked to the desire for more security online. A larger number of consumers checking out online are using the “checkout as guest” function available on many websites. This leads to a lack of messaging for this group of users, a crucial missed opportunity for brands who are relying too heavily on cookies, and are not taking advantage of the wealth of first party data available to them. And it’s bad for brands if they don’t make this option available for their customers; 14% of online shoppers will leave a site if guest checkout isn’t available for them. This problem, paired with the many benefits of allowing a guest checkout function on your ecommerce site, such as a faster and easier checkout process, higher purchase confidence, and fewer abandoned carts, means that guest checkout must be a focus for brands moving forward.

Mobile Shopping:

Complementary to the idea of providing a simpler experience for your customers, retailers need to spend more of their consideration on mobile experiences for their customers. As convenience increases and attention spans diminish, mobile shopping will continue to grow in the share of where consumers do their shopping. This is only following the current progression of retail; from small brick and mortar stores, to big box retailers, to online, and finally to mobile, consumers are constantly craving easier purchasing options and retailers need to be constantly aware of that. The percentage of retailers with apps is up globally, from 11% to 13% in the last year, showing that the convenience factor of the mobile dimension is resonating with many brands’ customers. Brands need to meet consumers where they are, by providing them with superior experiences where they spend the majority of their time, which is only pointing more and more to mobile devices.

The groundwork has been set for online retailers to really step up and seize the opportunities that the last few years have presented for them. Consumers want to buy, and they want to buy online. So it is the job of retailers to give them the best, easiest and most relevant shopping experience possible using the assets given to them, and not be left behind by the powerful trends that are coming in future.

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