The consumer speaks: 7 trends that could define ecommerce in 2022

5 minute read

A new year brings a new set of opportunities for online retailers to better align themselves with changing consumer needs and expectations.

We’ve seen massive changes in many sectors over the last two years. Will they continue? Any predictions are just that: predictions.

At Canada Post, we have access to exclusive consumer insights. Each year, we conduct extensive research on consumer shopping preferences – covering the changing expectations around digital and omnichannel experiences.

Here are 7 notable trends for 2022 to inspire your thinking, fuel your planning and keep you one step ahead of the consumer – and your competition.

1. A new age of ethical demands

More than ever, consumers are aware that their buying decisions can make a positive, meaningful impact on the world. Younger consumers are migrating towards brands who build ethical, authentic practices into their business efforts – with honesty, environmental and social governance at the forefront.

Here are 5 brand factors that influence where consumers shop online:

53% The brand protects the well-being of its employees.43% They make an effort to reduce packaging waste.42% They promote values that align with the consumer’s.41% They uphold ethical standards the consumer supports.40% They sell environmentally friendly products.

Think about ways in which you can establish and communicate a distinct corporate social responsibility message. It may involve exploring partnerships with the community and suppliers, cutting back or providing options on the packaging you use during shipping or choosing sustainably sourced materials. Be transparent about your values and demonstrate to your shoppers why they are so important to you.

Explore the “Navigating the Canadian shopper journey report”

Download now

2. It pays to have influence

The surge in ecommerce in 2020 and 2021 had brands scrambling to move fast, bringing new products and services to market while addressing changing consumer needs. Many brands sought out content creators and influencers who could create reactive content – which consumers devour. It can be in the form of ads, reviews and videos shared across social media. Whether from celebrities, industry experts or just regular folks, it can add tremendous value to your brand.

The numbers are clear:

38% of Canadians tend to shop online with a retailer mentioned by a social media influencer.

Brands like Smash + Tess, Coal & Canary and Cheekbone Beauty shared their approach to crafting an influencer strategy that works for their business and customers.

For more on how to make thoughtful influencer marketing decisions for your business, read “The strategy behind brands leveraging influencer marketing.

3. Integrating online and offline advertising

Disruption has left many marketers searching for solutions to unlock growth and increase human connection with customers. Business owners and marketers must be savvier than ever. Acquiring sales and converting shoppers into customers is a multi-faceted approach. In 2022, expect to see the consolidation of online/offline advertising grow in popularity.

These advertising methods were most effective in driving consumers to make a purchase in store and online:

52% were influenced by advertising received by email.

42% were influenced by advertising on social media.

41% were influenced by advertising received in the mail.

Integrated campaigns using Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more, in addition to physical touchpoints like direct mail, leave a deeper neurological imprint on consumers. Direct mail’s unique combination of targeting, physicality and relevancy can amplify your digital marketing mix. If you need to deliver brand experiences right into the hands of the consumers that matter most to your brand, direct mail is worth considering.

For more on how direct mail can be a key part of converting your audience, read check out “Innovative solutions that elevate direct mail.

4. World class customer experience

Every year is the year of the consumer. We’ve seen leading brands roll up their sleeves and prioritize their efforts on providing exceptional customer-centric experiences that keep consumers coming back for more. They’ve come to expect seamless experiences through the end-to-end shopper journey across all channels.

Everyone has their own personal reasons for shopping online, rather than a physical store. Among those who shop online, their top motivation is:

49% saving time, 48% 24/7 shopping, 37% comparing prices easily, 37% avoiding lineups, 36% finding more variety online.

Shoppers will continue to evaluate retailers against one another – that’s a given. Pay close attention to these motivators and strategize to increase visibility with consumers. Shoppers are actively searching for brands that use technology to improve price, variety and convenience.

5. A good return policy is a competitive differentiator

As online shopping has ballooned, so have returns. Rather than looking at returns as a hassle, consider it an opportunity to further distinguish your business from the pack.

Shoppers are strongly influenced by a good return policy. They are more likely to shop with online retailers that make it easy to:

They are more likely to shop with online retailers that make it easy to: 72% return items to store, 67% return items by mail.

A returns experience that’s complicated or costly taints the entire shopper experience.

Your returns strategy should strive for optimal convenience. Make your return policy clear and upfront on all key communication channels – from your printed advertisements to your website. If you can, offer consumers free shipping on returns – chances are your competitors already do.

6. Focus on carbon control

Working towards net-zero and carbon neutral retailing remains a key influencer to sustainability-led consumers. The size of your carbon footprint and the genuineness of your public position is a necessary part of your business plan.

4 in 10 Canadians indicate they are concerned over their personal carbon footprint.

44% will shop more often with retailers who are focused on reducing their brand’s carbon footprint.

An important step in connecting with your audience is understanding how they feel about the environmental impact of your business. Evaluate how you can make meaningful and realistic strides. Sustainability isn’t always easy. Have conversations with your partners and suppliers to find opportunities to improve your collective carbon footprint. Communicate these shared values and efforts with your customers.

7. Your customers can guide you

The shifts of the last year have made it challenging to plan for the future. There are no easy short-term answers. The best we can do is continually listen to our customers and monitor how their needs are changing. That way, we can quickly shift when they shift. Every year, Canada Post invests in delivering industry-leading ecommerce and marketing research to Canadian online retailers. We can help guide you through what’s happening – and why it matters – to help drive your business forward.

1 Canada Post. Fall Omnibus Report, November 2022.

Contact an ecommerce expert

Speak with an ecommerce expert at Canada Post to help grow your business.

Contact an expert