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Shopify Flow rolling out to all Advanced plan merchants

Shopify has announced that they are rolling out Shopify Flow to all merchants on their Advanced plan with plans to offer its availability to other plans in the future.

Shopify Flow aims to give merchants more time for the important stuff like building their businesses by offering an automation solution that can simplify your day-to-day by putting complex, manual tasks on autopilot. Merchants can quickly create the custom automations that your business needs, so you can focus on the bigger picture.

Flow is based on a simple, no-code “trigger, condition, and action” format. This means a “trigger” is an event that Flow looks out for and which sets an automation in motion, a “condition” must then be met, and the “action” is the task that is completed when the condition is met. An example is set out below.

  • Trigger: An order is placed.
  • Condition: The order total must be $500 or more.
  • Action: The customer is tagged as a VIP in the system.

Shopify Flow in action

Inventory Management – Flow makes it easy to set up a workflow that hides, pauses, and republishes products, based on preset rules around quantity. For example if a product goes below 10 items left in stock, the workflow can attach a “low quantity” message to the item on your site, and then send a Slack notification to your fulfilment team to reorder the item.

Fraud Protection – Whether it’s cancelling an order with a suspicious address or blocking a known reseller, you can create a workflow that takes all that arduous work off your plate.

“Wait” actions – Shopify have also announced a new “wait” feature that merchants can enjoy. From waiting mere seconds to hide an item from your site, to delaying a full seven days before sending an upsell email, this option gives you complete control over not just the what, but the when.

Flow in the Admin – With the ability to run Flow automations from the Admin, you can now run workflows retroactively, giving you more flexibility and control over your business. For example, you can now complete tasks such as bulk cancelling orders that should not have been allowed.

Interest rates rise to 0.75%

Last week, the Bank of England voted to approve an interest rate rise from 0.5% to 0.75%, the third time an interest rate rise has taken place within months.

This is bad news for those with a mortgage but will also impact business borrowing but there are two important things to note.

Firstly, 0.75% is still a historic low for interest rates. It was only when the pandemic hit that rates were lowered to 0.1% and for most of the last decade they were at 0.5%, varying up to 0.75% or down to 0.25%. This is after rapid falls in 2008 when rates fell from 5.75 in 2007 to 1.5% and then 1% in early 2009. 0.75% isn’t a punitive interest rate in normal times but these aren’t normal times.

The abnormal times started with spiralling fuel costs, first at the petrol pump and then in gas and electricity prices. Then the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and subsequent sanctions placed on Russia have spiralled costs out of control. This will have a serious impact on households from the 1st of April as their bills skyrocket – the second time for those whose utility companies went bust, and it will get significantly worse come September when the price cap is due to rise by an estimated 50% again. The cost of basic goods like food are already rising and the interest rates rise is just one more expense for consumers adding maybe £25 a month to the average mortgage payment.

Businesses aren’t protected by energy price caps and still have to pay for diesel to move their goods around so there’s no delay to costs for them. It’s likely that almost all will have to edge prices up, even if it’s just because couriers increase their fuel surcharges.

The net result is that we are already in a period where consumers have less money in their pockets and this is on the back of the pandemic which has already devastated lives. We already knew in the back of our minds that the generosity of the government would have to be paid for and the first part of that is coming in April when National Insurance rises by a 1.25% health and social care levy.

This is a time where there is bound to be a slow down in the economy and that means less consumer spending. In some ways online selling is protected as consumers will be keen to save money and perhaps shop for different brands, consider refurbished or pre-loved goods and hunt for a bargain. It is however time to examine your business finances and assess where savings can be made and how you can squeeze out profits where pricing pressure may force you to cut margins or increase prices.

Shopify launches new ‘Linkpop’ link in bio tool with built-in e-commerce features

Shopify has entered the “link in bio” market with the launch of a new tool called “Linkpop.” The new offering is aimed at creators and allows them to sell products directly from their Linkpop page. Creators and merchants can include important links on the page and also launch storefronts to sell directly on the platforms where they’re engaging with followers. Consumers can then browse a Shopify merchant’s selection of products and make purchases directly on Linkpop without having to leave the app they were using.

Merchants can set up an account, link it to their Shopify store and start adding shoppable links to the page. They can also add links to websites, articles, videos, playlists and more. Shoppable links automatically sync with a merchant’s product catalogue to feature all of the details that a customer will need before making a purchase. Once a merchant sets up an account, they can share up to 200 links on their Linkpop.

Linkpop also includes built-in analytics tools that merchants can use to better understand how customers are engaging with their page. They’ll be able to view metrics such as link clicks and unique visitors. Merchants can also customise different parts of their Linkpop page, including the background colour, logo, font and more. You can also upload photos to accompany specific links.

“Merchants and creators today are using multiple channels to engage with customers, and that number of touchpoints will only continue to grow,” Amir Kabbara, the director of product at Shopify, said in a statement. “With Linkpop, we’ve created a surface that unifies all links merchants post across social channels. What’s even better, we’ve made it a shoppable destination so it’s easy to purchase products directly on Linkpop, which is a win-win for merchants and buyers alike.”

The tool can be used by anyone whether or not they are a Shopify merchant. But, the shoppable links are only available to Shopify merchants. Shopify notes that creators who are just getting started and haven’t launched a business yet can use Linkpop to grow their audience and brand. Once they’re ready to launch their store on Shopify, they can then share products directly on their Linkpop page. Shopify hopes that Linkpop users will eventually want to create a Shopify storefront in order to enable purchases on their Linkpop.

Link in bio pages have become increasingly popular over the past few years. People use them in different ways, as some use them to link to their social media profiles, Spotify pages and YouTube channels, while others use them to link to their online stores.

Linktree, one of the more popular “link in bio” services, recently announced a $110 million all-equity round led by Index Ventures and Coatue Management. The raise valued Linktree at a whopping $1.3 billion. Late last year, the company launched a Shopify integration to give users a way to promote their businesses and products directly on its platform. The Shopify collaboration came a few months after Linktree partnered with PayPal to expand its recently launched “Commerce Links” tools for direct payment on Linktree.

Shopify has now launched a new tool to compete with Linktree directly. It’s also competing with the broader “link in bio” market, which includes Shorby, Linkin.bio, Beacons and more.

Hawke media

Hawke Media is an award-winning digital marketing consultancy and full-service agency.

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1st Class Stamp Cost Rises to 95p

From the 4th of April 2022, the price of a 1st Class stamp will increase by 10p to 95p and the price of a 2nd Class stamp will increase by 2p to 68p.

That’s a massive rise in the cost of a 1st Class stamp and would appear to be a clear statement of intent that they’d rather you just settle for 2nd Class or not post letters at all… parcels is where they see their future. Indeed Royal Mail say that they have considered these pricing changes very carefully in light of the long term structural decline in letter usage and rising inflation. Letter volumes have declined by more than 60% since their peak in 2004/5, and around 20% since the start of the pandemic.

Overall, these changes are broadly in line with inflation and are necessary to ensure the one-price-goes-anywhere Universal Service remains sustainable. The Universal Service Obligation (USO) requires Royal Mail to deliver letters to 31 million home and business addresses across the UK six days a week at the same price.

– Royal Mail

What we’d really like to see is if the price of a Stamp is now going to cost 50% more than it did 10 years ago, (In 2012 the price of a 1st Class stamp rose to 60p), whether we’ll get the service to match the price. In their latest Quality of Service report they only achieved 76.8% of 1st Class mail being delivered on time (against a target of 93%).

We understand that many companies and households are finding it hard in the current economic environment, and we will always keep our prices as affordable as possible.

Whilst the number of letters our postmen and women deliver has declined from around 20 billion a year to around 7 billion since 2004/5, the number of addresses they have to deliver to has grown by around 3.5 million in the same period. We need to carefully balance our pricing against declining letter volumes and increasing costs of delivering to a growing number of addresses six days a week.

As customer needs change and we see a greater shift from letters to parcels, it is vital that the Universal Service adapts to stay relevant and sustainable. These price changes are necessary to ensure we can continue to maintain and invest in the one-price-goes-anywhere Universal Service for future generations.

– Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail

Royal Mail say that their stamp prices remain among the best value in Europe compared to other postal operators, with their research showing that the European average price for 1st Class letters (0-100g) is £1.36.

Royal Mail Parcel Price Reductions

While the price of a 1st Class Stamp will rise 10p from the 4th of April, many parcel prices will be going down.

With these price reductions, if you normally pack up parcels over the weekend ready for shipment on a Monday then on the weekend starting Friday the 1st of April you would be advised to hold off purchasing your postage for most parcels until Monday the 4th.

New Royal Parcel Prices from 4th April

If you are posting a typical package up to 1kg, here is a sample of the new parcel prices. These prices are all based on you purchasing your postage online – if you buy stamps at the Post Office or have a business contract with Royal Mail then you’ll see different pricing.

Special Delivery by 1pm

Currently the parcel price for a 1kg Special Delivery by 1pm would cost you £8.85, from the 4th of April this drops to £8.45.

Small Parcel Tracked 24

The current cost for Tracked 24 for a small parcel is £5.46, from the 4th of April this drops to £5.45. But the band is expanded to include parcels up to 2kg instead of a limit of 1kg (previously 2kg parcels would cost £7.80 but will be £5.45).

Medium Parcel Tracked 48

The current cost for Tracked 48 for a small parcel is £7.26, from the 4th of April this drops to £6.35 and as with Tracked 24 the weight band covers parcels up to 2kg (as was previously the case for Tracked 24 parcel prices.

UK Standard

The cost for a 1kg small parcel sent 1st Class is currently £3.35. This changes to £3.95 but now includes parcels up to 2kg. A 1-2kg small parcel would previously have cost £5.07 so whilst it’ll cost more to post parcels up to 1kg there will be saving for heavier parcels.

Etsy Fees To Rise in April

Etsy has announced that Etsy fees will increase from 5% to 6.5% as of the 11th of April 2022. The company plans to invest most of the incremental revenue from this fee increase in marketing, seller tools, and creating world-class customer experiences.

Etsy grew massively throughout the pandemic, first with growth driven by sellers making face masks, then by the pandemic forcing millions around the world to work from home with many normal activities shut down and pure boredom making online shopping attractive. With the pandemic slowly tailing off, Etsy now needs to maintain these buyers and their increased revenues (16.2% Year-Over Year Revenue Growth in Q4 alone). This will need investment and that’s perhaps why it’s no great surprise to see fees going up.

“We plan to make significant investments in marketing, seller tools, and creating a world-class customer experience so we can continue this tremendous growth. To support this goal, on 11th April we will increase our current 5% transaction fee to 6.5%.”

– Etsy

Etsy say that increased Etsy fees will allow them to make improvements in three key areas:

  • Bring more buyers to Etsy: Last year, Etsy spent nearly 600 million USD on marketing. This year they intend to invest even more, including the TV commercials, influencers and tastemakers, billboards, podcast advertising, and email marketing that bring new buyers to Etsy.
  • The support you need: Etsy says that they will grow their support team by more than 20% this year so you can get help more quickly and easily, including faster email responses, expanded access to live chat, and prioritisation of your most urgent requests.
  • Keeping Etsy unique: Etsy will build on last year’s roughly 40 million USD investment in the teams and technology that help make our marketplace a safe and secure destination for handmade, vintage, and special items. This year they will expand their efforts to remove listings that don’t meet their policies and help you resolve issues with buyers.

Amazon New Seller Incentives Announced

Amazon has just announced new seller incentives designed to attract businesses and brand owners to sell on the marketplace. The new Seller Incentives are based on Amazon’s Perfect Launch playbook for new selling partners. Amazon research shows there are certain steps new selling partners can take to grow their sales even faster when selling in Amazon’s store and they want to assist businesses to launch and accelerate their sales rapidly.

Over 20,000 brands started selling in Amazon’s UK store in the last three years and brands almost doubled their sales year over year (12-month period ending June 30, 2021). With New Seller Incentives, selling partners on Amazon’s Professional selling plan can qualify for a suite of benefits worth more than £40,000 in potential value designed to help them launch and grow on Amazon.

If you’re not already selling on Amazon, these incentives should be reason enough to launch your brand or business onto the marketplace and get your products exposed to consumers through Amazon Stores.

At Amazon, we work hard to provide selling partners the tools and resources they need to launch and grow their business. If a selling partner wants to find customers quickly, selling on Amazon makes it easy for them to connect with hundreds of millions of shoppers around the world. That’s why for selling partners who are new to Amazon, we’re excited to launch New Seller Incentives that consists of a suite of benefits – worth more than £40,000 in potential value for those that are also brand owners – and the Perfect Launch playbook that gives actionable steps to help them succeed even faster.

– Amazon

New Seller Incentives

The following Amazon new seller incentives are available for brands and businesses who launch their businesses on Amazon from today:

Brands

New selling partners can register their brand via Amazon Brand Registry, and be eligible for benefits including:

  • 5% bonus on up to £800,000 in eligible branded sales (up to £40,000 in bonus value);
  • £160 in credits for Amazon Vine, which invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new products to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions;
  • £80 in credits for Transparency which helps brands proactively prevent counterfeits from reaching customers, engage with customers, improve customer experience, and identify supply chain defects.

FBA

For new selling partners who adopt Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), benefits include £80 in credits for using the Amazon Partnered Carrier program or £160 in credits for using Amazon Global Logistics for inbound shipping fees; auto-enrolment in FBA New Selection, providing free monthly storage, liquidations, and return processing for eligible new-to-FBA products.

Amazon Vouchers

In the UK, new selling partners who adopt Amazon Vouchers benefits include up to £40 in Vouchers credits. Vouchers help brands create targeted and compelling promotions for customers on Amazon.

Example 2: email to a customer about a late order

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Is Livestream Shopping The Future Of Ecommerce?

You may have heard Alibaba’s Own Zarina Kanji discussing how mass-streaming is set to shape the future hybrid world of retail. Recently, M&S announced a new Livestream shopping service called ‘M&S LIVE’ where customers can join a live broadcast to hear more about a product range and pose live questions to an M&S expert.

Live streaming and ecommerce

The beauty of live streaming is its ability to replicate an experience that we witness in physical stores. By having an expert walk a consumer base through a product line in real-time people are getting an experience that they could be missing when they browse an online store. For instance, a customer browsing handbags on a store page could want a more detailed look at the straps, pockets and buckles but are limited to the existing listing images. On a Livestream, the consumer would have a more detailed and personalised experience that could translate into a sale.

“The last few years have seen a rapid shift to social commerce, with our research showing TikTok alone saw a phenomenal 553% increase in shopping during the pandemic. This has been largely driven by younger consumers, with 43% of Gen Z, using social media to purchase products in 2021. Brands and retailers that have realised this opportunity have already seen success, as consumers are now more likely to see – and be influenced by – brand advertising, user generated content (UGC) and influencer posts on social media. Within this, live shopping has really taken off. A trend that is already well-established in Asia, we’ve recently seen TikTok, Instagram and Facebook each adopt and test live shopping features in the west, and the trend has already seen a huge growth in popularity amongst Gen Z shoppers. And it’s clear to see why – the interactive nature of live shopping helps brands and retailers bring consumers together with other consumers, in an experience which goes beyond just shopping”.

Ed Hill, SVP EMEA at Bazaarvoice

Social commerce is certainly something that brands should be looking to do if they can. TikTok and Instagram are a couple of platforms already facilitating the concept. I predict we will see more marketplaces also picking up on this Livestream shopping trend in the near future, allowing brands to stream to their audiences and capture more sales whilst promoting brand value and trust.

SWIRL Announces Live Shopping Integration With Shopify

Vadodara (Gujarat) [India], February 9 (ANI/PRNewswire): Swirl announces integration with Shopify to enable live commerce.

Shopify sellers can now create shoppable videos and use live streaming to boost engagement and increase sales.

With the integration between Swirl and Shopify, sellers will be able to access all the benefits of video commerce that come with the platform while retaining complete control of their database, their payment gateway, and the customer experience.

Swirl for Shopify sellers

Shopify sellers can create immersive short videos, share with customers with a single link, and build a collection of shoppable content and video catalogues on their own storefronts. They can also engage with customers Live and answer questions and collect first party customer data and personal information through their Lead Capture tool.

Sellers will also get moderation features, real-time analytics and business intelligence on the performance of their video content and on the customer behaviour. Sellers retain control of their payment gateways, but with shoppable Swirl videos, their path-to-purchase is reduced significantly.

This integration comes with the following functions baked in:

White label URL

Carousel-style shoppable videos on any webpage

In-Video Add-to-Cart & Checkout

RSVP and calendar sync with reminders

Lead capture with authentication

Moderator Account

UTM parameter integration

Facebook/Google pixel integration

Branded video player design

The future of livestream shopping is here

The graph for livestream shopping has been soaring in countries like China over the last few years. According to a Forbes report, the Chinese eCommerce market is at $305 billion in 2021. In the United States it is $25Bn and along with-it other countries like India, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam are showing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46.4%.

“Post pandemic, The world has shown a great affinity to video shopping and eCommerce and with the roll out of 5G globally, retail and D2C brands are realising the power of creating immersive phygital experiences on their own web assets that bridges the online-offline gap and reduces path-to-purchase” – Kaizad Hansotia, Founder & CEO SWIRL

Swirl and Shopify – a partnership built to last

With the integration of Swirl, Shopify merchants receive a full-stack live commerce solution that they can plug and play, with no need for tech investment or training. They can choose from one-to-many and one-to-one live shopping, and short shoppable videos.

Large Appliances is Amazon’s most lucrative category

Data from Amazon FBA business acquirer Thrasio has found that books, CDs and vinyl are still big business for Amazon sellers with businesses turning over an average of £230K per month, however large appliances top the revenue list.

Thrasio analysed data from SmartScout on over 18,000 sellers to reveal the makeup of the UK’s booming e-commerce sector. The data reveals surprising patterns about which categories are bringing in revenue for sellers and which see the biggest competition. 

Large appliances top the list for average seller revenues

Amazon sellers in the Large Appliances category had the highest average monthly seller revenue (total category value divided by number of sellers), at £364k. 

Surprisingly, Books (£227K) is still one of the most lucrative categories for sellers, as is CDs & Vinyl (£234k), suggesting that those looking to spring up profitable revenue streams on the platform don’t always need to seek out new product lines or high-value goods.

The data also shows high-value categories like Automotive (£222k), Computers & Accessories (£111k) and Watches (£45k), were beaten out by the likes of clothing (£250k), Sports & Outdoors (£239k) and Pet Supplies (£234k).

Grocery sellers face the most competition online 

As more people turn to selling online either as a side hustle or primary business, the data suggests that there are sustainable revenues to be made across the marketplace, though competition is high.

Of the 27 categories analysed, five had more than 1,400 active GB-based sellers competing for sales. Grocery topped the list, with over 2,275 active sellers, followed by Beauty (2,103) and Home & Kitchen (1,724). 

Of the 27 Amazon categories analysed, more than 17 have an average seller revenue of £100,000 per month. 

How To Start a Thriving Ecommerce Business

If you’re a skilled entrepreneur or craftsperson, you’ve probably dreamed of starting your own ecommerce store and building a business that gives you a sense of achievement and freedom.  Sadly, most people don’t follow through on starting an ecommerce business because they don’t know where to begin.  Ecommerce businesses, which is any business that buys…

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The Ecommerce Club is designed to mentor members and enable collaboration between all parties. Not just help on your ecommerce journey but help on your business journey.

A guide to starting a drop shipping business

Want to start selling online but don’t really have the capital? Or maybe you’re not sure whether it’s for you and you want to test the water first? If you answered yes to either of these, then a dropshipping business may be the answer. It’s an excellent gateway to online retail that requires less financial…

Access All Areas at TEC

The Ecommerce Club is designed to mentor members and enable collaboration between all parties. Not just help on your ecommerce journey but help on your business journey.

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Access All Areas at TEC

The Ecommerce Club is designed to mentor members and enable collaboration between all parties. Not just help on your ecommerce journey but help on your business journey.

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Access All Areas at TEC

The Ecommerce Club is designed to mentor members and enable collaboration between all parties. Not just help on your ecommerce journey but help on your business journey.

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Access All Areas at TEC

The Ecommerce Club is designed to mentor members and enable collaboration between all parties. Not just help on your ecommerce journey but help on your business journey.

March 2022 FBA fee changes for Amazon 

Amazon has announced 2022 FBA fee Changes which will come into effect on the 31st of March. You will definitely want to make a note of these changes as they are not only an increase in prices for many but there are also some changes to some size and weight tiers that could have an additional impact on your costs.

Amazon describes the prices changes as ‘moderate’, pointing out that their cost has increased over the past two years. 

“Throughout the pandemic, we have worked to support you – postponing and keeping fee changes low, reducing or eliminating select fees like those for customer returns, and absorbing billions of dollars in increased costs on your behalf – all while making significant and necessary investments in people, technology, transportation, and infrastructure. As you’ve seen widely reported in the press and have likely experienced yourselves, costs are rising and we now need to make adjustments to this year’s fee structure in response. We will adjust our fees to partially offset the higher permanent operating costs we face going forward.

Starting March 31, 2022, certain selling fees will be adjusted in our Amazon Europe stores. Most referral fees will not change, and we are making only moderate increases to fulfillment fees. Review the detailed fee change pages below for more information.”

– Amazon

2022 FBA fee changes include new bands

As an example, currently, the service for a Large Envelope 960g is defined as ≤ 33 cm x 23 cm x 5 cm. From the 31st of March, this will become two bands – one for a Large Envelope ≤ 33 x 23 x 4 cm and a new Extra Large Envelope ≤ 33 x 23 x 6 cm. You’ll find similar bands added for parcels with additional weight tiers introduced.

Dimensional weight introduced

Amazon will also start to use the greater unit or dimensional weight to determine the weight tier of the product. This will impact you if you have very lightweight but large items. The dimensional weight in kilograms is calculated as (length x width x height cm3) divided by 5000. This change in itself could have a greater impact on your fees than the price rises or new bands, so take the time over the next two months to assess how the changes will impact you and which of your product set will be most impacted by dimensional weight measurement.

Small and Light

Amazon will also introduce three new size and weight tiers for Small and Light. These include extra-large envelope 225g, small parcel 150g and small parcel 400g. All other Small and Light size and weight tiers will remain the same.

Whistl added as an Amazon-integrated carrier for merchant-fulfilled shipments

From February 3rd, 2022, Whistl will be added to the list of Amazon-integrated carriers. With this integration, Amazon is further improving the customer’s ability to track their packages and help reduce buyer contacts, order defects, lost order costs, and protect you from A-to-Z guarantee claims. 

Effective February 3rd, 2022, if you are using Whistl for your merchant-fulfilled orders, you must provide valid tracking IDs by selecting ‘Whistl’ from the drop-down on the shipment confirm page on Seller Central. 

Amazon is giving users a 2-month grace period, from February 3rd 2022, to adjust to this change. During this grace period, you can select Whistl to add tracking information. However, it will not impact your VTR rate or program eligibility. 

Here is the stepwise guide for adding valid tracking for Whistl: 

During the dispatch-confirm process for every merchant-fulfilled shipment, you must provide:

  1. The carrier name: Whistl in this case
  2. The delivery service
  3. The tracking ID or unique parcel ID for shipments delivered sith a tracked delivery service. 

Enter the above information as soon as you hand over your package to the carrier, as it takes up to 72 hours for the VTR report and metric to reflect the tracking information changes. If you provide tracking or parcel IDs post-delivery, the shipment will be counted as a VTR defect. 

FAQ: I shipped a Whistl parcel via a 3rd party carrier such as Yodel. Which carrier should I select in the drop-down, Yodel or Whistl?

As you are shipping your parcels via Whistl, you should select Whistl as the carrier name from the drop-down, regardless of which 3rd party carrier is doing the final mile delivery to the customer. You should still select Whistl even if you have been given a 3rd party carrier tracking ID for your shipment, such as Yodel tracking number.

Trend Report: This is What Will Matter for Small Businesses in 2022

The last two years have seen unprecedented changes to how entrepreneurs start and run small businesses. If you’re feeling a little lost, or unsure of what to expect next, you’re hardly alone.

As a small business owner, the best tool you have is information, both about how other businesses are keeping the lights on and about how customers want to shop in this time of change.

Thankfully, we have data that can help you with both.

In our annual Future of Commerce report, we asked both business decision-makers and consumers what matters to them in this new era of commerce. With that information, we’ve identified seven key small business trends to pay attention to in the new year, including what customers are looking for, how to gain an edge in how you ship, and how businesses plan to invest in themselves.

These insights will help you future-proof your small business and remain resilient.

7 small business trends for 2022

We combed through the data to find the trends that will matter most to small business owners through 2022. Here’s where to invest your energy in the upcoming year.

1. Prioritise customer experience

As an entrepreneur, you already know that providing a memorable experience for customers is what builds loyalty to keep them coming back again and again. 

With that in mind, this is an area where businesses know they need to invest. According to a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Shopify, 27% of businesses said improving customer experience was their first or second-biggest priority for 2022.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, but customers also gave us insight into what they look for when shopping online.

When asked what they find “valuable” or “very valuable” when shopping online, accurate pictures were the top answer, with 77% saying so. This can be a challenge if you’re doing product photography yourself, but with good lighting, even a smartphone can be used to take excellent photos.

The next most important thing customers consider is the ability to easily find all product information, which 76% of customers said was “valuable” or “very valuable.” Writing product descriptions is an art unto itself, and you can look at this guide for tips on how to get them just right.

Localisation is also important. In the data, 74% said seeing their local language was “valuable” or “very valuable,” and 71% said the same about seeing their local currency. Shopify’s app store has dozens of options for ways to add this functionality to your shop.

Finally, 70% identified seeing customer ratings and reviews as valuable, which you can also find solutions for in the Shopify app store.

2. Focus on online revenue—including marketplaces

Even for those with a brick-and-mortar operation, small business trends show that online sales remain the key to growth.

In our data, 54% of businesses said their commerce team must focus on online revenue to achieve their 2022 priorities.

Digging into that, 49% of businesses said they plan to increase investment in their company-owned online store. One way to do that is to evaluate the design of your store. Is it visually appealing? Does it work well on mobile? Here’s a list of excellently designed shops to inspire you.

Businesses also noted the importance of online marketplaces, with 56% saying they plan to increase investment in e-commerce marketplaces. This is a smart strategy, as 55% of customers said they purchase from online marketplaces either weekly or monthly.

Amazon is the best-known marketplace to get started on, but there are many others that are worth looking at as you expand where you sell online.

The last place to look is social media platforms. Our data showed that 49% of businesses plan to increase investment in social commerce. We already talked about social shopping integration, but you can also think about fostering an online community and potentially working with influencers.

3. Optimise for uniqueness

One of the worries about expanding to online marketplaces is increased competition. It’s a common concern—40% of businesses said they expect increased competition to hinder their commerce team from achieving its goals.

But we also know how you can convince customers to choose your brand over another. In our data, customers told us what they consider a “significant” or “very significant” influence on their decision to purchase from a specific brand.

First up is a strong quality or satisfaction guarantee, with 61% of customers identifying this as important. This is something you can write into your product descriptions and features in your website copy as you consider what your brand’s unique selling proposition is.

Next is an excellent past service experience, with 60% saying this was a “significant” or “very significant” influence. That just goes to show that building customer loyalty begins before that first purchase is even made.

Finally, 58% of customers voted for the ability to reach customer service in the channel of their choosing. That means providing multiple avenues of contact, whether via email, social media, or live chat using a tool like Shopify Inbox.

4. Invest in solutions for supply chain issues

The pandemic has truly shown how kinks in the supply chain can impact even small businesses. 

Our data showed that 40% of consumers said global supply chain delays will somewhat impact orders, and 28% said they will strongly impact orders. The top concerns are additional shipping delays and costs, followed by manufacturing delays.

But rather than cutting costs to deal with these issues, a clear small business trend is emerging as founders invest in solving them. Forty-five percent plan to invest in manufacturing capacity, 44% plan to invest in improving collaboration with supply chain partners, and 44% plan to invest in increasing the speed of their supply chain.

5. Build trust with customers by making shipping faster and more transparent

It’s increasingly becoming the norm when shopping online to find free and fast shipping that gives a clear anticipated delivery day. Marketplaces like Amazon have made it so customers expect this transparency, but that can be a difficult bar for small businesses to meet.

Businesses identified three areas where they’d be investing in shipping for 2022: reducing shipping costs with free and flat-rate shipping, improving flexibility of shipping and return policies, and changing shipping strategies to reduce the impact of global shipping delays.

Free shipping is a proven method for increasing conversion and order values and some simple calculations can help you decide whether this is something worth offering your customers.

Customers also identified free shipping as an important factor in choosing where to shop. In our data, 76% said free shipping had a “very significant” or “significant” influence on their decision to buy a product online. A further 68% said the same about same-day or next-day shipping, and 56% said the same about being able to choose the time and date of their delivery.

Shipping transparency, which means being able to show clearly anticipated delivery times, is important to both businesses and customers. Forty-nine percent of businesses plan to invest in shipping transparency and 46% of customers said they look for this when shopping.

6. Make international shipping easier for customers

Online commerce has made it possible to shop the whole world, and staying competitive means being able to ship anywhere. In fact, for Black Friday Cyber Monday 2021, 15% of all purchases were cross-border.

Customers still have some hesitations, though. Forty-three percent don’t want to have to pay additional fees for international orders. They were also worried about paying increased shipping costs or that shipping would take longer.

There are some steps you can take to work on those concerns. Shopify has tools to help you optimise your shop for international shoppers, such as price adjustments for different global markets, localised taxes, and setting clear international shipping rates. It’s also a good idea to be upfront about any additional fees so there are no surprises (and abandoned carts!) for customers.

And of course, make sure you have all customs forms for international shipping in order to prevent issues on arrival.

7. Invest in sustainability

Both businesses and customers are increasingly aware and concerned about the impact commerce has on our planet.

Over the next 12 months, 46% of businesses plan to invest in enabling customers to easily recycle products, 39% want to improve the efficiency of their manufacturing process, and 39% plan to invest in using natural, renewable, or recycled materials.

Building sustainable business practices is a worthwhile process, and it can start with small steps, like educating customers, offsetting carbon emissions, using social media to promote messages about sustainability, and finding sustainable shipping partners.

Go forth and conquer 2022!

You know better than anyone that staying in business means constantly adapting, reevaluating, and fine-tuning. These small business trends for 2022 can help you determine where to focus and invest for the upcoming year.

Take this data, go forth, and make 2022 your best year ever.