The year 2022 is in full swing, but like most things today, there is still a lot we don’t know about what this year will bring for the industry. However, there are a number of ecommerce trends that we’re already noticing that could impact third-party sellers and vendors in online marketplaces. Following is a breakdown of what we foresee.
Embrace the unknown
If there’s anything we’re certain about in 2022, it’s all the uncertainty. There are so many unknowns—from the latest strain of COVID-19 (Omicron) to the economy and inflation and beyond—it’s hard to get a proper handle on where 2022 will go.
While many sellers are used to planning 3-6 months out, these uncertain times call for a more cautious and guarded approach because circumstances seem to change by the week—even by the day.
That said, we advise that do your best to keep up with the latest news and trends in business, the economy and in your product niche to make the most informed decisions possible.
Supply chain issues are still here but should improve
The supply chain issues of 2021 appear to be easing some, but we expect its impact to be felt through the first half of 2022. The Omicron variant is a major wildcard and may exacerbate the problem in the short-term by putting valued dock workers, truck drivers and other logistics specialists out of commission. This may further slow product movement—especially for products coming from overseas—through the first half of the year.
We recommend diversifying your suppliers, if you haven’t already, and consider North American-based manufacturers and products in the near-term, if possible, for faster availability.
Get a hold of your own logistics and go multi-channel
For ecommerce businesses, now is a good time to evaluate your own logistics and ensure that when products are available, you can get them to customers quickly and efficiently. We recommend having 2-3 third-party logistics (3PL) partners that can help you ship products either directly to customers or to marketplace fulfillment services such as Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Make sure those partners understand how third-party sellers and the FBA process works.
You also need to consider a multi-channel fulfillment strategy, selling through Amazon, Walmart and other marketplaces seamlessly. This will open the door to more consumers.
Now is not the time to sit and wait
Despite the uncertainty and the supply chain issues, waiting is not the way to go. If you typically sell certain products or product categories and you find those items in stock from your suppliers, consider buying more of those products now if possible, especially if you’ve experienced delays in the past.
And if there’s a product or category that is impossible to get right now, you may need to diversify your offering and enter a new category that is not saturated and whose products are more easily obtainable in the current environment.
People will continue to stay at home
Even if the COVID-19 pandemic wanes this year (we hope it will!), it seems that work from home (WFH)—and shopping from home—is here to stay. But too so will ecommerce activity.
With all of its troubles, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online shopping, and consumers have largely acclimated to it. We believe online sales will continue to grow in 2022, especially if COVID variants linger.
This makes 2022 a great year to expand your offering, or look for new ways to reach end consumers with product they need.
Several online retailers are set to improve this year
We believe that Target Plus and Kohls.com are going to continue making waves in the third-party-seller arena in 2022. Both retailers have made significant headway with their logistics and are making faster, more efficient deliveries. They are also offering better product selections, which will bring customers back.
As you consider expanding your multi-channel strategy, we recommend that you check out these retailers, or at least keep your eye on them.
One buzzword that recently entered the mainstream lexicon is Metaverse. Brought to popular light last November when Facebook’s parent company changed its name to Meta, it’s a rather vague concept at the moment, but one worth keeping an eye on.
Generally speaking, the Metaverse is a virtual space (or world) where people can live, play and exchange goods—think of the 2018 film Ready Player One as an example. If applied to today’s retail world, the Metaverse can potentially change the way all sellers do business.
So as the Metaverse takes shape in 2022 and beyond, it will be important to keep abreast of how sellers will need to adapt to maintain their competitive advantage.
While 2022 may hold many uncertainties, there’s always help available for third-party sellers. Feel free to reach out if you need assistance or advice as you navigate the year ahead.
Joe is co-founder and co-owner of Riverbend Consulting, where he manages the sales and advertising teams. Joe also heads up the brand partnership and referral divisions. He has founded and run successful businesses in multiple industries including e-commerce and wholesale/manufacturing.
Joe loves spending time with his wife and kids. He can be found playing catch with his boys and even drawing princess pictures with his daughter!