Learn how to fly because ecommerce continues to soar

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The world of ecommerce has been growing for years. But after the pandemic brought the world to its knees, it really took flight. The 2021 report by Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce indicated that the total worth of European ecommerce grew to €757 billion in 2020, which is a 10% growth compared to 690 billion euros in 2019.

Crises often give rise to opportunities. And as brick-and-mortar shops were forced shut, the doors to the world of ecommerce opened, providing a lifeline to consumers who were confined to the four walls of their homes. Between the start of the pandemic and now, we’ve faced a couple of lockdowns, but it seems that business is also back to usual. Does that mean that the ecommerce market is set to slow down? Or will it continue to soar?

As we are now well into 2022, it’s worth looking at some lessons learned during this challenging period and exploring some new trends that companies can look into if they plan to take their business online in the new year.  

Ecommerce and omnichannel expert Sven De Waele shares his thoughts on ecommerce and how to grow a successful online business during a pandemic. 

“There’s no set guidebook for running a successful ecommerce business”, De Waele says. “It all comes down to your business, your industry standards, and your priorities.” Different industries have different expectations, and it’s hard to compare fashion with furniture retailers or pets stores.  

“However, regardless of the industry, the growing importance of ecommerce is undeniable. The transition from offline to online is set to continue with projected growth rates of 15 to 20% annually for online versus 4% in offline sales.”

The way forward

Since the shops have opened again, we find ourselves in a strange equilibrium, in which multi- and omnichannel play an increasingly important role. Multichannel provides the same products or services via several different sales channels. However, the experience, price and information can differ per channel. The difference with omnichannel is that here, all sales channels are perfectly attuned to each other with uniform experience, prices, and information across all channels. It does take some initial efforts to set up an omnichannel experience, but it pays off. 

“This is especially important for companies that have offline branches”, explains De Waele. “Today, the customer journey starts online. As an offline retailer, you need to drive conversion to your physical shop. Even if you also sell online, you’ll business will be doomed if your shop sales dwindle because you won’t be able to cover the overhead costs.”

Customers expect flexibility in deliveries and returns (at home, the office, or in-shop), to keep track on purchase history, or collect reward points. De Waele agrees that it’s important to leverage the offline benefits, such as click and collect or the fact that customers can view and touch the products in real-life. 

The need for authenticity

Multichannel can also help to increase conversions, for example through social advertising or SEA. In a hyperconnected world, you cannot neglect digital marketing. Both online and offline presence and a consistent message are crucial. User generated content (UGC) and influencer marketing can also benefit your business because they can help enhance credibility towards potential customers. UGC provides authentic content which allows you to build a trustworthy relationship with your customer base. “However, a marketing and communication strategy is highly dependent on your business and target audience”, De Waele says. Some industries can really benefit from influencer marketing, such as the fashion industry, but we tend to focus more on traditional ways of advertising.”

And it’s no secret that your customers are your most important asset. You want them to come back for repeat purchases. Therefore, make sure to also prioritize customer service. Especially given increasing complaints caused by the longer delivery times and stock-brakes. It’s always a good idea to encourage your customers to share an image or video of their purchase as a review, and to help others discover the product. 

Belgian jewelry brand Twice as nice has a monthly competition where customers can win a €50 gift card. They also display all of their customers’ entries on a Community Page on their site, to help others discover products and see how other peers are styling the pieces. 

As another example, international lingerie brand Hunkemöller shows off their customers weekly on their Instagram Stories, boosting their fans’ profiles and establishing trust at the same time. 

Next day

"Ordered today, delivered tomorrow", is a catchphrase that customers have become accustomed to. De Waele confirms that it’s become a worldwide standard. However, in some industries supply chain is under severe pressure. “Following the pandemic, we have optimized our supply chain and warehousing, and the biggest bottleneck remains finding the right people, especially in warehousing. We used to get a great response to vacancies, but now we’re having difficulties to fill the positions.”, mentions De Waele.

Since Covid, dropshipping has increased significantly, but not always with a great service. Make sure you stand out from your competition with speedy delivery times, good stock management, and flexible delivery options.

Now that we’ve established how crucial it is to tap into and respond to customers’ expectations, let’s look at a few trends that will become even more important going forward. 

Evolutions, trends and how to respond to them

Both technology and people are constantly evolving. And the interesting thing about ecommerce is that it ties both together. Since consumers are the ones spending their buck online, they are in the driver's seat pushing the transformations. 


Screen times are spiking, and people are relying on their phones for almost everything. The cell phone is one of the first and foremost touchpoints to promote, and sell, your products. In the B2C market, the starting point of the customer journey is almost always mobile. Therefore, a smooth mobile experience with seamless UX is indispensable. If you can bring in authentic visual content in responsive galleries, then you ensure that your customers are seeing social proof in the palm of their hands. 

As an example, chocolatier Pierre Marcolini ensures that content shared from their customers/community is perfectly formatted for a mobile-first experience.

Pricing and payments

The online market is massive, and shoppers have no shortage of options. This makes it difficult for shop owners to stand out. An obvious way to distinguish yourself from your competitors is through pricing. Dynamic product pricing uses price optimization software, that calculates the best price for your product at a certain time.

Make sure you offer different payment options such as iDEAL, PayPal or Apple Pay. And don’t forget to use a QR-code. A variety of methods can also help increase conversion rates on mobile devices. Customers are often inclined to cancel a sale if they cannot select their preferred payment option. Make sure that customers can save their payment details for future shopping sprees, that way you take down barriers for potential future sales.

Increasingly customers want to pay in installments, preferably without interest. We’re even seeing more alternative payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, being offered on mainstream sites.

AR and AI

Augmented reality has drastically changed the playing field of ecommerce. By using AR shoppers can visualize the items they want to purchase, which is a huge asset, especially in the fashion and design industries. And it can enhance the decision-making process, which can ultimately increase push your revenue upwards. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) has dominated the conversation for years. Since AI constantly collects consumer browsing and purchasing data, it is a valuable analytical tool that cannot be replicated in-store. Machine learning is already adopted to offer specific recommendations to customers with certain profiles or behaviors.

The use of smart speakers and virtual assistants such as Alexa, also provide development opportunities for ecommerce, as online shopping, and food orders through voice search increase. 


As concerns about the environment increase, sustainability has become an increasingly important aspect. Customers are looking for environmentally friendly products. And companies that make their business more sustainable will reap the benefits in the years to come for example by improving their production and delivery process, using biodegradable packing, using recyclable materials, etc. 

Recommerce is another trend, that is tied to the awareness of the environment. It’s a merger between the words 'reverse' and 'commerce' and involves selling or buying second-hand or refurbished products through webshops or online marketplaces. 

Looking ahead in 2022

There are many ways to ride the waves of ecommerce, but one thing is sure, if you want to leverage the real value of ecommerce and tap into new target groups, you need to cultivate consumer confidence, adopt social proof, and make the purchasing process as easy as possible. It’s never too late to dive in and adapt your business.


More information:
Cecilia Rehn, Digital Marketing Manager, Flowbox

Flowbox is an award-winning SaaS company offering a visual marketing platform to help brands leverage and distribute social content throughout the buyer journey to increase engagement, social proof and sales. Flowbox's heart lies in how technology can help brands generate and use owned, paid, earned and user generated content for a more effective, converting and transparent marketing and e-commerce. Through our platform, our customers are able to collect, moderate and publish content to their website, online shop and social channels.