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Livestream, chat shopping to become prevalent in 2022

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Discovery commerce, livestream shopping and social commerce are among the shopping trends that will shape the e-commerce sector in SA and globally in 2022.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to drive more traffic to e-commerce sites in 2022, online retailers are expected to increase their investments in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

This will provide insights that will enable them to offer personalisation, convenience and flexibility, while improving customer experience, according to predictions by online shopping platforms Bidorbuy and PayFlex, and research firm CB Insights.

More retailers will capitalise on the use of AI-based, automated, intelligent systems that can accurately predict shoppers’ preferences and help them find exactly what they need.

AR is changing the face of shopping by providing online shoppers with virtually engaging tools to view and interact with products in the same way they would if they were visiting a physical store.

Social media selling has become a popular avenue for online shopping, serving as an efficient alternative to shopping on a retailer’s website.

Anne-Marie Green, marketing manager of online auction and marketplace Bidorbuy, says despite the recent increase in online shoppers, SA remains a relatively under-developed e-commerce market, but studying global developments can help further grow and shape the industry’s future.

“The scale of the 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.

“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 the local market first,” notes Green.

The 2022 e-commerce trends predicted by Bidorbuy, PayFlex and CB Insights are:

Livestream shopping: Brands and retailers are turning to live commerce as more platforms emerge, allowing viewers to instantly buy featured productsthrough immersive content. It allows customers to chat virtually with stylists and hosts on the shopping site, as well as see product reviews and recommendations in real-time.

Discovery commerce: This trend is expected to reset the rules of engagement in online shopping this year. Using sophisticated algorithms to identify consumer needs, discovery commerce challenges traditional marketing stereotypes by anticipating customer needs and matching products with the people most likely to love them.

Social commerce: The convergence of e-commerce and social media will see more brands rapidly using social media beyond its traditional role, and buying and selling goods or services directly to customers via social networking sites.

Chat commerce: Chatbots and messaging apps such as WhatsApp were once exclusively used for customer service, but e-tailers and start-ups are now bringing them together with e-commerce on a single interface, allowing customers to also make payments on the platform.

Buy-now-pay-later: The BNPL model lets customers make immediate big-ticket purchases, while spreading out their payments – with zero interest. With better integration into consumer bank accounts and digital wallets, BNPL will become more accessible and inclusive as a short-term finance solution this year.

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