We are starting off the year right by doing our research on what ecommerce categories and products we think are going to define ecommerce in 2022. If the previous two years of the pandemic are any indication of what the future of ecommerce holds, 2022 is going to be another interesting year for businesses across the world.
With the challenges we all had to face in business, from disrupted activities to the technological and social changes we had to undergo as a response to these trials, ecommerce has, without a single doubt, emerged to become an even more integral part of our lives and our culture. COVID-19 has changed the way we shop, changing consumer behavior and veering it more towards online stores rather than physical shops. Today’s consumers are looking for quick and convenient online products and services.
It's an exciting time to look ahead and to stay on top of emerging trends and products in ecommerce. So in this article, we bring you the top 10 product categories and trends (in no particular order) that any online business owner should look into in 2022.
1. Subscription Services
A trend every online store owner should keep an eye on, the subscription business model in ecommerce is here to stay.
For those who aren’t familiar with subscription services, what they are, and the potential that they hold, a subscription service is when someone signs up to receive a recurring service or package from a company on a regular basis. Today, companies in fashion, personal care, pet care, and even companies in the food and entertainment industry are adopting the subscription-based approach because it incurs regular monthly revenue from customers.
Consumers love subscription services because it allows them to subscribe to products and services that renew, whether that means a Netflix account or a themed monthly delivery of goodies. In terms of box subscriptions, what’s inside the box can be something of a surprise (depending on your business model), or specific products customers sign up for. This is great for online coffee delivery shops, pet shops, beauty supply stores, and even local grocery stores.
According to McKinsey & Company, 15% of online shoppers are subscribed to a subscription service. Considering that the number of online shoppers is estimated to have reached 2.14 billion in 2021, 15% is a big deal.
2. Sustainable, Eco-Conscious Products & Services
While governments around the world employ delay tactics to put off solid climate change initiatives, individuals are taking one look at a potentially bleak future and making more conscious choices, especially in the brands that they support.
According to a study conducted by Nielsen, 81% of their global respondents strongly feel that businesses should accept social responsibility for how their products are made and distributed. This is especially the case when it comes to Millenials, Gen Z, and Gen X consumers.
This year, it’s time for your brand to jump onto the social and environmentally conscious bandwagon and offer customers eco-friendly products and services. There are many ways a brand can do this, from offering biodegradable packaging, to selling only reusable products. Many of today’s brands are shifting from plastic or attaching social value and Social Good Campaigns to their products and services. This makes shoppers feel good about their purchases because, in a way, they are helping the community or minimizing their footprint.
It’s important to note an interesting characteristic of the socially conscious shopper—the attached social value of their purchase can often transcend pricing. In other words, shoppers will spend more money on items as long as it aligns with their social and environmental values.
3. Vintage, Second Hand, & Upcycled Products
Closely linked to the section above on sustainability and conscious consumerism, many of today’s young consumers are turning to vintage instead of supporting mass-produced fast fashion brands. Shoppers know by now that a lot of what fast fashion produces will end up in the dumps, so in this moment of rapidly shifting consumer consciousness, thrifted, vintage, and secondhand businesses are the hottest businesses to support in 2022.
The secondhand market is huge right now and is projected to double in the next 5 years, expected to reach $77B by 2025. This is wonderful news for entrepreneurs who are thrilled by the hunt for vintage treasures and rare pieces you can only find in thrift stores and vintage markets. To spot the trend, just take some time to peruse Instagram, Etsy, and curated Shopify websites to find the renewed loved for thrifted and vintage clothes and goods.
There are many reasons why young consumers are turning to thrifted instead of the new. It is an economically sound choice that is sustainable and also aligns with the young consumer’s, especially Gen Z’s, dedication to fashion and style, which are part of their persona. Plus, thrifting is an art. It is also a way of taking a stand against the Forever 21’s and Pretty Little Things of the fashion industry.
Learn more about selling vintage clothes on Shopify here.
4. NFTs & Digital Art
2021’s biggest and sometimes most baffling phenomenon, exploring the potential of NFTs and digital art may be worth your while in 2022—especially if you are an artist looking for new ways to share and monetize your art online. From digital apes to NBA video clips, the NFT market went from $41 million in 2018 to $2.5 billion by the first half of 2021. Talk about making big leaps.
While some of the hype might be dying down, NFT art continues to attract buyers and critics alike, but more importantly, its offers more control for digital artists who are selling their work online, with digital versions that can finally be validated as originals.
NFTs stand for Non-Fungible Tokens, which means something that cannot be replicated. Each NFT purchased guarantees the buyer a verifiable version of the piece minted by the artist. When an artist mints an NFT, it becomes a part of a public ledger or blockchain.
A commonly used blockchain used to mint, store, and sell NFTs is the Ethereum Blockchain, currently the most popular hub for NFT art. While known for their less than eco-friendly practices, Ethereum’s pending transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-steak will reduce their carbon emissions drastically, which will help further adaptation and build a case for NFT art and artists.
While NFTs are a speculative asset at best, NFTs are bringing a higher sense of tangibility to the digital art world that was not previously felt, for both artists and their patrons. So the concept is worth looking into for digital artists in 2022, as it might help build your profile and reputation, and maybe even help you monetize your passions this year.
5. Home Improvement & Accessories
Not so long ago, the home improvement industry was mostly handled by brick-and-mortar businesses, but today, DIY ecommerce is one of the fastest-growing categories, and brands are doing what is necessary to adapt to the needs of their online customers.
Something happened to people, almost collectively during the pandemic. All around the globe, people looked around at the confines of their homes and makeshift office/study spaces and decided to invest in their homes like never before. More people are opting to create cozier spaces and retreats, even if that means building an awesome new hideout in your basement.
According to Xian Wang, VP, Retail Insight, Edge by Ascential, “Even when the economy opens again, consumer behavior will not change back and future growth in the category - like all categories, will disproportionately come from online.”
According to the European Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Home Improvement Retailing Market Report, the DIY improvement market is poised to grow by $25.41 billion, during 2020-2024 progressing at a CAGR greater than 3%.
As consumers continue to be homebodies, there will be a continued interest in refreshing our living spaces with products like new pillows, chairs, and small appliances. Ecommerce has been proving itself to be a fantastic platform for brands that specialize in home décor and home improvement, because of their attractive price points, and the growing demand for online distribution.
6. Home Office Accessories
The pandemic has seen a radical shift in the way that we work and study, placing more emphasis on the need for home offices and study spaces. Even as we enter 2022, corporations around the world have adopted a hybrid model of work, and as a new generation of workers come in to join the workforce, the home office continues to gain more prominence in the consciousness of the consumer.
Closely related to improving life at home, which is now coincidently considered a work and also a school environment, students and professionals alike are still looking to improve their home offices, making it a necessity for individuals to continue investing in furniture, like desks and chairs, and in tech, like monitors and peripherals. Corporations are also continuing to extend work from home grants, helping their employees furnish their home offices for better comfort and productivity. Home-based economy, indeed.
Brands that specialize in home office or have a dedicated category to this area of the home rely on visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to build a strong social following. Product images also become more central as aesthetics play a bigger role, as well as competitive pricing. The goal here is also to provide customers with value, by providing free delivery and stellar customer service.
As remote work has become more common, technology and our culture have evolved. Projections cited in the E-Commerce: United States report predicts furnishings, office equipment and supplies, to be one of the fastest-growing segments of e-commerce sales through 2022-2024.
7. Self-care Products & Services
We don’t just want self-care, we need self-care. Today, the global wellness market is worth $4.5 trillion and it looks like it is set to continue dominating key aspects of our lives well into 2022.
The wellness market is booming, and what consumers are intending to spend on are on areas that will improve their health, fitness, nutrition, appearance, sleep, and even their sense of mindfulness. These are all wide categories that ecommerce entrepreneurs can tap into to see which areas they would like to explore and capitalize on in 2022.
According to Ritu Khanna, Managing Director at Shopify cited from a Forbes interview on what customers will be buying this year, "We do anticipate there will be an even greater emphasis on personal health, beauty and wellness products like CBD and sleep gummies, massage guns, water bottles and filters, exercise mats, and hair and skincare products."
Men and women of all ages believe that self-care is of ever-increasing importance in creating a healthier lifestyle and improving our overall sense of well-being. If you are an ecommerce entrepreneur, it’s time to tune in to people’s increasing awareness for this need that casts a wide net over consumers' physical, emotional, psychological, social, professional, environmental, and spiritual well-being.
People are avid consumers of caffeine. It’s a mainstay in cultures across the world, it is continuously evolving with fun trends, and it is something that we drink all year round. Coffee is a key commodity that drives economies through its productivity-boosting properties, and consumers just seem to love it.
While your favorite café did flounder in the wake of the pandemic as consumers stayed home experimenting with things like dalgona coffee and flavored iced milk drinks, globally coffee remains a multi-billion dollar industry that experts predict will grow— despite slowdowns in parts of the globe's export market, with a CAGR of 4.22% for 2020-2025. We see Europe as the largest market, with South America as the fastest-growing market for consumers.
One of the rising trends we see in recent months is an interest in ready-to-drink coffees, especially in cold brew, and in the online coffee subscription model as more people want their coffee beans delivered straight to them as a recurring monthly service. For those interested in starting a Shopify store with coffee subscriptions, ReCharge is a Shopify app that allows you to incorporate a subscription model into your store.
As with anything and everything in 2022, we expect social media to play a key role in the branding of online coffee companies who are savvy with a smartphone and know a thing or two about aesthetics and engaging a growing social following.
9. Pet Products
With over 85 million households in just the U.S. caring for at least one pet, the Petcare industry has been a favorite for market watchers for years. Despite the financial setbacks brought on by the pandemic, the U.S. pet industry had a record year in 2020 making it to $107 billion, as reported in the U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2021-2022.
Most of the growth in pet-loving homes that we see are coming from Millennials and Gen Z who have embraced pet care into their lifestyle, more so than the past generations. During this pandemic, pet ownership rose as homebound consumers sought out companionship to alleviate stress and boredom, making us see a rise in the ownership of cats and dogs, and consequently, a rise in the industries that specialize in pet products, from pet food, accessories, and medicine.
Interestingly, pet care products bought online vs from brick-and-mortar stores show a stark discrepancy. According to a report done by Statista on the growth of pet care ecommerce and brick-and-mortar sales in the United States in 2017, online pet care sales grew by 3.4. billion U.S. dollars, compared to the 317 million dollars for bricks and mortar sales. Now that is just exceptional news for anyone who dabbles in ecommerce.
Needless to say, with more than half of households embracing the pet-loving lifestyle, the pet care niche is a booming industry that only grows as we get to love our pets more and more. For ecommerce entrepreneurs that have a love for pets, this can be a great way to build a profitable business around your passion.
10. Virtual Experiences
The years under the pandemic have been a time of transition and innovation. With businesses having to limit their operations and social distancing measures set in place, industries around the world have had to make a mad dash to adapt under the intense pressure to survive, finding ways to make what used to be a physical and face-to-face experience a virtual one.
Among the non-essential businesses that have had to adapt are gyms and fitness classes, travel services, and schools— these services have all since adapted to the home-based economy.
Today, more people have been subscribing to home exercise programs or joining yoga and other fitness classes online instead of buying a gym membership. People are also signing up for online cooking or photography classes. Even travel has become virtual as museums, national parks, and companies like Amazon and Airbnb are now offering virtual tours so you can travel the world virtually.
While this all seemed like a big challenge at first, creative people around the world have recognized a great opportunity. More than ever before, individuals can provide virtual services to people, without geographical and temporal restrictions.
Are you a talented chef, barista, fitness coach, travel guide, or language instructor? It’s time for you to remove barriers and ask yourself how you can create a virtual version of what you’re best at that you can share with people across the globe.
Back to You
There you have it, we have given you the top 10 ecommerce product trends and categories for you to explore in 2022, and now it’s time for you to start selling. We hope that this article will help you make informed decisions for you and your ecommerce business so that you can thrive well into the next year and beyond.
There are, of course, so many more products and ecommerce niches for you to choose from and explore, but there’s nothing like doing some quick research and brainstorming up some ideas to help you make the right business choices in 2022.
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