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89. What We Learned About eCommerce in 2021 + How to Win for 2022

What to Expect in eCommerce in 2022

89. What We Learned About eCommerce in 2021 + How to Win for 2022

2021 has been another year where we had to expect the unexpected. While many of us, somewhat naively, anticipated a return to a kind of “new normal” that just hasn’t been the case. Instead, this year has once again required us to be nimble enough to pivot, lean into our communities for support and adapt to new ways of doing things. 

In today’s episode, we’re talking about everything we’ve seen happen in retail and eCommerce throughout 2021 and what we can expect for 2022. 

We’re wrapping up another year, so let’s talk about what we’ve seen happen in retail and eCommerce throughout 2021 and what we can expect for the year to come. 

We can’t talk about 2021 without mentioning Covid and how prevalent it still is in our lives and businesses. 

This time last year, I remember thinking, pretty naively, that 2021 was going to go back to normal. A new normal, but normal none-the-less. And that really wasn’t the case. Sure, things started opening up, some travel restrictions were lifted, there is less civil unrest, but this truly has been a pivotal time in our history and expect future generations will read about it in their history books… though I imagine it will be the history “they” want the people to know. 

My goal is not to rehash all that we’ve been through, but to remind ourselves that as business owners, we need to be tuned in to what’s happening around us. We need to be nimble enough to pivot, lean into our communities for support when we need it and know that we can’t just continue to do things the way we’ve always done them. 

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2021 saw people’s priorities shift 

What we’ve really seen happen in 2021, highlighted by the Great Resignation, as they call it, is that people’s priorities have shifted in a BIG way. And whether you have been directly affected by this—like your employees quitting in droves—we have seen the domino effect that this has had, especially on the supply chain. Not that long ago, ships were lined up for weeks because there just weren’t enough people to unload everything.

And that’s not to even mention the effect that it’s had on restaurants and retail stores. 

While this may not have affected you directly at all, it likely has affected your customers. And of course, I’m no expert… but I do have this gut feeling that we haven’t quite experienced all the effects just yet, and things will continue to unfold throughout 2022. 

A lot of those counted in the Great Resignation are boomers who retired early, people who started their own business, and those who went back to school or pursued a different career path. Yes, there were definitely those who did well in the real estate and stock market, but ultimately lots of people still need to go to work. 

But we just really don’t know how all of that is going to play out. 

The most important message I want to get across here is that there are sooo many variables that affect our businesses, some directly, some indirectly, and no matter how this year has been for your business, because it’s been really great for a lot of you, this is not a time to rest on your laurels or get lazy in your business. It’s going to be as important as ever to be diligent, to keep progressing forward, and continue to improve every chance you get!

Black Friday weekend retail sales dipped for the first time, but November sales were up overall 

Interestingly, I heard a lot of mixed feedback about Black Friday weekend for my clients and community. Some started off slow and then rebounded to have their best weekend ever. Others were strong off the bat, while others fell a little flat. 

In terms of traditional in-store shopping, I heard overall that it wasn’t the same madness in stores as years’ past, even in the big boxes like Target. 

Now, I don’t know anything about in-person shopping first hand because since I left retail many years ago, I vowed never to shop on a Black Friday weekend. After you’ve gone to work at 8pm on Thanksgiving and run a retail store overnight until the next morning, at an outlet where you have to push through a crowd of people just to open the doors in the first place, you’re scarred for life. 

Those I know who went shopping said it was really like any regular day. 

When you look at the statistics, retail spending from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday was down about 1.4% from 2020 and if I read the details correctly, it’s literally the first time sales have ever dipped during the weekend. 

On a brighter note… overall November sales were still up 11.9% it’s just that people weren’t waiting until Black Friday weekend. Most likely due to supply chain concerns. 

So what are we learning from this?

Look at your Q4 as a whole 

The first thing I want you to take away from this is to not look at your performance just for the Black Friday weekend, but at Q4 as a whole. We saw a lot of early shopping and sales happening in October also, so when you’re trying to decide how you did for the Holiday Season, make sure you’re looking at ALL the numbers. 

And if you saw a big shift in customer shopping habits, make sure you note that in your campaign recap (listen to episode 11 if you don’t know what that is) and capitalize on that knowledge next year.

It’s okay to make up your own rules

It’s your business and you get to do that. I’m always going to talk a lot about Black Friday weekend and do my best to get you set up for success. But there’s no reason you can’t take those same principles and apply them to a different time in your business. Shopping has been happening earlier and earlier for a few years now, even before the pandemic, so don’t be surprised if that continues to happen. 

I don’t have a crystal ball and I’m not a logistics expert, but it might be years before the supply chain is back to normal, if ever, so make sure you’re continuing to take that into consideration while you’re making those types of plans in your business. 

And then one last side note before we move on… if at the end of this season you have Christmas specific merchandise left, have a Christmas in July event next year. 

What we learned about marketing this year and what we can expect for 2022 

Consumers continue to prefer short-form entertaining content on social media

We cannot ignore the fact that most people are infatuated with entertaining short-form video, i.e. Reels and TikTok. 

In fact, I can name 2 small business owners, and have heard the same story from countless others, who started implementing these types of videos in their marketing strategy and have seen absolutely insane results. To the point where they actually shifted their key roles in their business so they could accommodate creating more content like this. And one of them even shut off their Facebook Ads! 

I know you are sick of people telling you to create Reels. And believe me, I’m not here to tell you that’s the only way to grow your business… because it’s not. But I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t talk about it and you would be doing the same if you didn’t at least consider it. 

And no, you don’t have to do every dance or trending sound. You can still focus 100% on your products, but the idea is to show your product and the problems that it solves in an entertaining way. Before you discount the idea altogether, or if you just need a little inspiration to see what I’m talking about, go check out @glassladder and @itsnatalierodgers of Klassy Network on Instagram.

Ultimately, I fully expect this trend to continue and if you have ever found yourself endlessly scrolling Reels or TikTok, you know I’m right. 

Email marketing (still) isn’t dead 

Earlier in the year there was definitely some concern about how email would fare after iOS15. And considering the fact that my phone just updated to iOS15 a few days ago, we haven’t seen its full effects just yet, but email is still very powerful and still has the highest ROI of any other marketing medium. 

According to Klaviyo’s statistics, 3.2% of all Cyber Weekend sales were driven through the Klaviyo platform, up from 2% last year. 

So what does this mean? 

Continue to improve your email marketing. It’s not dead. Not even a little bit. If you don’t have all your automations set up and you’re ready to FINALLY do it right, get in touch here. I’m already booking up next year and am currently booking for April. 

When it comes to campaigns, Check out these episodes that will help you level up your campaign sending game too. 

It might be time to test SMS marketing

We’ve also seen SMS start to really blow up this year. More and more customers are getting comfortable with this channel, especially the younger generation. So if you’ve been thinking about it, 2022 is a great time to test it out. It’s not for every business, but it’s worth a try. 

For instance, I had two clients who were curious but unsure, both with an older customer base. In order to gauge interest, we added it as the second step in their signup forms. One of them got a huge influx of SMS subscribers instantly, the other… crickets. So it really just depends. 

During Black Friday Weekend, Klaviyo customers sent 54.6M text messages—a whopping 10x more than in 2020. As a result, SMS attributed revenue increased by 743% YOY. This link will break down the revenue numbers for you, but I’ll tell you, it’s A LOT. 

If you’re going to implement SMS, just keep these things in mind. 

1. It’s NOT a replacement for email

2. Think of it as a notification channel vs. a relationship building channel like email is. 

Facebook Ads still work to bring in new customers 

While there were definitely a lot of challenges when iOS14 rolled out, and while you’ll still hear people talk about how they moved away from them, or how they don’t work, or a whole host of other complaints… I can tell you they are still a viable way to bring new customers into your business. They’re for sure not the ONLY way, and it’s not necessarily easy money like it used to be considered, but they are still working, nonetheless. 

The biggest hit comes in remarketing to your site visitors and building look alike audiences, but you can still reach brand new people who didn’t know you existed, into your audience. 

The biggest successes are seen with more established proven businesses and higher budgets, but those just starting out or with small budgets are still seeing positive ROI. So whether you hire it out or decide to learn it on your own, there is still an opportunity to make money with Facebook Ads. 

Essentially, what I’m saying is that if you jumped ship after iOS14 or have been afraid to get started, consider bringing it back into your strategy for 2022. 

The trick is to focus on building cold interest-based audiences, building engagement on your social channels and your email list to create warm audiences, and creating content that your perfect customer wants to see. 

Check out episode 64 with Lauren Schwartz where we talk all about Ad Creative that customers click. 

For an episode more focused on organic social, but the concepts in terms of content creation still apply, check out episode 85 with Katie Wight.

What we can expect to see in 2022 based on 2021 

  • Continued supply chain issues and shifting priorities of people, which means your customers. 
  • Consumers continuing to prefer short-form entertaining content on social media.
  • Email will still be a super important marketing channel, in spite of iOS15 and it’s younger, cooler cousin SMS is gaining real traction. 
  • Facebook Ads are STILL powerful and should not be ignored. 

So tell me, how did 2021 go for you and your business? 

How ready are you to continue to kick-ass next year or finally get things rolling in the right direction? How would you like to have support from me, Nicole, and other kick-ass eCommerce entrepreneurs to hone in on everything we talked about here today? 

If you haven’t already heard, I’m launching a membership program for 2022 to do just that. And right now, it’s only $47 a month. If you want to learn more about that, click here to get yourself on the waitlist. Doors are opening January 3rd and I would ABSOLUTELY love to have you inside!

Listen to the Episode

Episodes Mentioned 

11: What’s A Campaign Recap & Why Do You Need It

64. How to Create Ads That Your Customers Will Click Lauren Scwartz of Loft325

85. Why You Might Be Doing Social Media Wrong & How To Do It Right With Katie Wight

Links Mentioned

The Lounge by eCommerce Badassery: A Membership for eCommerce Business Owners

New York Post: 2021 Cyber Monday, Black Friday sales dip from last year

Klaviyo: Black Friday Weekend Results

Hey, I'm Jessica

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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