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Growing a business

16 e-commerce trends small businesses should know

E-commerce, which refers to electronic commerce a.k.a. online shopping, is a rapidly changing industry—between 2021 and 2025, the e-commerce market is expected to grow to $11 trillion. With the rise in e-commerce opportunities also comes an increase in competition across brands, so it’s essential for businesses to stay on top of the latest trends.

Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or you’re looking for ways to expand your business, check out these e-commerce trends to know in 2022.

1. Increased use of voice assistants

Staggering growth projection for voice-assisted shopping.

Virtual voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have already been around for some time, but virtual assistants in e-commerce are expected to become even more ingrained in the shopping experience. This technology can also help improve the shopping experience for those with visual impairments.

According to recent research, the voice assistant market is expected to reach about $4 billion in revenue this year.

What this means for your business: Integrating voice search strategies, like voice-assisted bots, into your business structure can help you modernize your efforts and stay ahead of your competitors.

2. Added personalization to products and marketing

Consumers are looking for increased personalization when it comes to their products and how ads are targeting them. As a business, it’s more important than ever to learn how to anticipate what a customer needs and offer it to them before they even realize they need it. 

Many online stores are tackling this by providing personalized recommendations based on the customer’s search and purchase history.

What this means for your business: Consider implementing personalized recommendations into your business strategy, and be sure to observe privacy laws.

3. Strengthened consumer privacy preferences 

As technology is becoming more advanced, so are privacy preferences and user data concerns. Although collected data serves as a helpful insight as to how to market, there is also a need to protect the privacy of the customers who are using and interacting with your product.

Utilizing zero-party data can help businesses achieve both personalization and compliance. Zero-party data is information that is shared with your business voluntarily by the customer. For example your company can ask users if they would like to participate in a quick voluntary survey.

What this means for your business: You can provide a personalized experience while also protecting customers’ privacy by requesting permission or feedback. 

4. Growing augmented and metaverse integrations

There are an increasing number of ways that customers can interact with or try out a product before purchasing. This is done through augmented reality, the latest wave of metaverse-equipped companies and technologies—and it’s likely going to become more popular throughout 2022 and beyond. 

What this means for your business: Businesses that take advantage of augmented reality can offer their customers: 

  • Improved conversions: With the “try before you buy” nature of augmented reality, users may be more likely to convert into customers since your products and services will be more engaging and interactive.
  • Reduced return rates: Customers will be less likely to return products since they will be able to try on a product or see what it looks like in their home before buying. Lower return rates can help streamline cash flow and ease the burden on payment processing systems and supply chains. 
  • Personalized shopping experiences: Customers can try on products with a virtual environment that can be altered to fit their preferences. For instance, customers can easily jump between different colors and styles of items like sunglasses, rings, or makeup to see what they prefer. 

5. Chatbots

See how much customers like chatbots.

Reduced human interaction when it comes to customer service is becoming commonplace, and most of it is done through chatbots. For example, merchants like Sephora and Amazon rely solely on chatbots to navigate customers through the customer service portals. L’Oréal also uses chatbot messengers to help customers find their perfect fragrance.

With the use of chatbots, small businesses can engage with their customers by seamlessly responding to inquiries and providing support.

In 2022 and beyond, 85% of all user interactions will be through chatbots, and 53% of customers would rather message a chatbot than call a customer service agent. With this trend, companies can also reduce their spending on customer service agents.

What this means for your business: Your business could cut down on costs by switching from customer service representatives to chatbots.

6. Increase in sustainable and eco-friendly efforts 

Becoming more sustainable in our day-to-day lives isn’t necessarily a new trend, but businesses’ commitment to sustainability is being watched more closely by consumers. To become more eco-friendly, a business can do things like implementing reusable and sustainable packaging in their products or focusing on updating old utilities and HVAC systems. 

There may be many benefits of becoming a greener company, including:

  • A healthier work environment 
  • Increased employee retention 
  • Better investment and financial opportunities 
  • Reduced costs and increased productivity
  • Improved brand image 
  • Readiness for environmental legislation changes 
  • Competitive advantage

What this means for your business: An increasing number of customers are drawn to companies that take eco-friendly initiatives. For example, your brand can educate customers by telling them their carbon offset upon purchase.

7. Mobile commerce

Shopping experiences have begun to spread from traditional websites over to other channels, such as social media networks, and have helped boost purchases for businesses. Integrating multi-channel shopping options through your business’s social media can be beneficial to building brand awareness, product discovery, community building, and simplified purchase power. 

For example, Instagram has implemented Instagram Shopping, a feature that allows users to shop or purchase a product directly from the post it's featured in. 

What this means for your business: This can be a great way of encouraging your social followers to convert and become customers, helping drive sales for your product or service.

8. Diversified payment options

Offering a variety of payment options can provide an elevated customer experience.

Another e-commerce trend that’s taking off is diversified payment options. This means that it’s beneficial for companies to offer customers multiple options when it comes to checking out and purchasing. 

Your business could also consider payment split options through a third-party vendor like Klarna so customers have the ability to pay off larger purchases over time. 

What this means for your business: Diversified payment options give users more flexibility and could result in a better customer experience.

9. Increased desire to shop small

Following the pandemic, many customers are looking to continue to support local and small businesses. Many of these businesses can expect a more prosperous 2022, such as fresh produce delivery services, handcrafted products, or other delivery service businesses. If you’re a larger business, consider partnering with local businesses to help make an impact.

What this means for your business: Companies that deliver right to the customer’s home can help foster brand affinity and loyalty.

10. Additional subscription models

The use of subscription models is also becoming a popular e-commerce trend that can help retain new and existing customers. Subscription models are able to give users flexibility and, if done properly, can make a positive impact on your business. Some examples of companies that have already adopted subscription models (both product- and service-related) include:

  • Dollar Shave Club 
  • Blue Apron 
  • Mailchimp
  • Statista 
  • Stitch Fix 

What this means for your business: Offering subscriptions could attract a wider range of audiences and increase loyalty.

11. Shoppable video content

Adding product links to your videos can increase conversions.

In 2022, businesses are expected to see a rise in video content as a way to market products and services to their users. These kinds of videos aim to be engaging, informative, and fun, while also including product links throughout. 

With just a few simple clicks, the viewer can purchase your advertised product straight from the video. Some video formats to try include: 

  • Testimonials 
  • Demos 
  • Educational/informative videos 

What this means for your business: By adding product links to your videos, viewers will have greater exposure to your offerings, which could result in more conversions.

12. Faster loading speeds

Having webpages that load quickly has been an important factor in the user experience for a while, and it’s something that’s gaining even more traction in 2022. As a business, it’s more important than ever to make sure your site speed is up to par—a slow-loading website could cause users to exit and not return to your page. Some common culprits of slow page load times include: 

  • Large image files
  • Too many ads 
  • Excessive plug-ins
  • Low-quality hosting services

What this means for your business: Having faster load times on your product pages can result in higher conversion rates. 

13. Curbside delivery options

Another trend that gained massive popularity during the pandemic is the option to get groceries or products delivered to you curbside. Although this e-commerce trend stemmed from the pandemic, it’s become a simpler way for customers to shop and will likely remain popular. 

This can be a great middle ground for businesses that aren’t equipped for or don’t want to venture into home delivery.

What this means for your business: If you sell products in-store, consider implementing curbside delivery to attract a wider audience.

14. Headless e-commerce

Benefits of headless e-commerce.

Headless e-commerce is becoming increasingly popular for many brands as well. Headless e-commerce is a setup in which your store’s front end is separate from the back end.

  • Front end: This is essentially the digital storefront, or presentation of your company, such as a website, social media channels, and even voice-assisted technology.
  • Back end: This is the software that ensures all of the elements of the digital storefront or presentation layer run smoothly. The back end handles things like fulfillment, merchandising, checkout, and data storage.

What this means for your business: Headless e-commerce allows for processes  and solutions to work faster and seamlessly, plus allows for more creative control over the front end capabilities, which leads to a stronger user experience.

15. Exclusive packaging

Packaging has always been something that’s important when selling products; the more visually appealing the package is, the more likely someone will buy it. Exclusive elements are something that may never fall out of fashion—special and reusable packaging has especially gained popularity in recent years.

Specifically, personal touches on customers’ packages can help encourage them to come back for more. Businesses are taking this up a notch by also adding personalization within the package, like a thank you note or fun stickers.

What this means for your business: Use exclusive and custom packaging to connect with your customers on a deeper level and help you stand out from your competition.

16. Limited edition drops

Additionally, you can also utilize product limited edition “drops” to further promote your products. Drops are products that are added as a special release for a limited amount of time. 

This strategy creates scarcity and can help promote a sense of urgency with your customers to purchase before the product runs out. Oftentimes, products from limited edition drops will not be restocked. 

What this means for your business: A limited edition drop can help spread word-of-mouth advertising which can help attract new customers. Consider releasing products this way with social media hashtags to get the word out.

Open more doors with these e-commerce trends

These new e-commerce tips and trends can help open up many opportunities for your business this year, such as improving your customers’ experience and setting yourself apart from the competition. Don’t shy away from trying new things and seeing if it works—you may be surprised! 

To further fast-track and simplify your business growth, be sure to utilize tools such as QuickBooks to help you organize and run your business.

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