Following the New Year inundation of year-in-review happenings and trend predictions for the year to come, there is a lot to discuss. In conversations with retailers, technology partners and industry veterans in my network, several points have stood out.
Alternative Supply Chain Options
Supply chain concerns are still rampant, and this is causing serious reconsideration of supply chain dependencies and the search for ways to better safeguard against the challenges of the past two years. The same old approach isn’t going to cut it anymore. One area of investment by retailers is a shift to buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), which was called “table stakes” by one retailer insider I talked with.
Consumer expectations have become even more demanding. Amazon, which was the ultimate in delivery, is starting to lose its luster. With impending fears of holiday delivery delays and increased demands for instant gratification, BOPIS is rapidly gaining new audiences.
Fashion and hard goods retailers aren’t the only ones benefiting from BOPIS. Restaurants are also adjusting to a new takeout-driven stream of revenue, some even offering in-house products as grocery options.
Rise of Community Commerce
The ways in which people build community is shifting and smart retailers are seeing their loyal customers as an opportunity to foster and monetize a community in an authentic way. Expect to hear a lot about “community commerce” strategies in the year ahead, especially from businesses with an existing audience they are looking to port over.
There’s an interesting dynamic at play with retailers seeking to build community with shoppers, and shoppers increasingly seeking communities (and places to spend their dollars) that match their interests, values and causes. A study by Euclid found that 52% of millennials prefer to shop at retailers that align with their values.
There will be interesting intersections here as marketplaces emerge in response. One example from Marketplacer headquarters is the Buy From The Bush marketplace, designed to shine a spotlight on rural and regional small businesses impacted by drought, bushfires and now COVID-19, and promote their products and connect them to buyers across Australia and beyond.
Another example set to launch next year is an endeavor by Combs Enterprises with Shop Circulate, a curated digital marketplace that allows consumers to discover and buy products exclusively created and sold by Black entrepreneurs. The potential to support underserved communities, regions or initiatives, such as easily finding and shopping at companies that support climate change, will bring power to the consumer, and with it a lot of loyalty.
The Year of the Seller
2022 is shaping up to be a big opportunity for sellers as many are looking to diversify distribution away from Amazon, just as new marketplace opportunities are opening up. According to a survey by JungleScout, 33% of Amazon sellers said they plan to start selling on other ecommerce platforms in 2021, and 21% plan to launch their own ecommerce store.
This coincides well with the increasing trend of retailers that already have relationships with major brands and are now looking for access to smaller niche sellers that aren’t as easily found. This will be a core strategy when building out stores to include marketplaces primarily stocked by third-party sellers.
Expect to see a tremendous amount of resources being funneled into developing and evolving dedicated-seller programs, recruitment and technology integrations with platforms that cater to this audience, such as Shopify. There is a lot of potential for win-win-wins all around — for the marketplace operator; providing quality customer experience both to the seller that is establishing new business partnerships and wants to increase discoverability; and to the shopper who is looking for a curated and unique experience.
Jim Stirewalt is the U.S. President of Marketplacer. He has spent more than 25 years leading ecommerce technology efforts for major B2C and B2B brands.