Ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, consumers worldwide have relied on e-commerce as the safest and most convenient way to get their products.
Two years in, online orders continue to soar and small businesses are overwhelmed as they try to keep up with demand and delivery volumes.
Since customer satisfaction is tied to the delivery experience, small businesses need to find innovative ways to improve customer service with the latest trends.
In this article, we’ll get into the small business market outlook for 2022. We’ll also discuss some of the key small business shipping trends to watch out for this year.
Small business market outlook
Businesses were hard hit between 2020 to 2021 with unexpected growth patterns in the supply chain and shipping. Industry analysts expect worldwide retail and e-commerce spending to reach stability in 2022.
The US e-commerce market grew 14.2% in 2021. In 2022, worldwide e-commerce sales are expected to exceed $5 trillion, a fifth of overall retail sales.
Here is the critical outlook for small business and e-commerce sales in 2022.
Digital Economy Boom
As mentioned, e-commerce deliveries boomed in 2020. As more consumers are comfortable with online shopping, the digital economy is expected to increase steadily across industries.
In 2022, the demand for delivery is expected to stay the same due to the rising digital economy.
Just like in 2021, more small business owners are expected to start their independent business or purchase an independent business. The number of new franchises has doubled year over year, proof of the popularity of this business model.
The bulk of new small businesses includes food and restaurant services, retail, e-commerce, health, beauty, fitness, and finance, and insurance.
Supply Chain Challenges
Though we’re two years into the pandemic, supply chain constraints will continue to be a problem with the emergence of new variants. While prices will stabilize eventually, industry analysts don’t see this happening until 2023. Capacity-constrained markets will continue to be pressured by inflation and equipment disruptions.
With this, small businesses should get in touch with multiple suppliers for key components ad materials. It’s also recommended that businesses increase their stocks and inventories of top-selling items in anticipation of shortages.
Main small business shipping trends of 2022
For my small businesses, following the latest business trends advocated by major corporations may not be the fitting path to take. As most small businesses have limited financial resources, it’s best that you review which shipping trends will go best with your customers’ needs and your long-term business goals.
It’s important for e-commerce and small business owners to incorporate flexibility, technology, and customer preferences into their shipping strategies:
To improve customer delivery service, shoppers want businesses to offer specified time slots for deliveries.
Almost 40% of customers are willing to pay a premium to request delivery windows.
Tracking information goes hand in hand with delivery windows. With the improvement of courier tracking technology, customers will get to see the exact location of their package. They will also get an estimated delivery date. For greater control of localized deliveries, businesses can partner with on-demand delivery services. These services will allow customers to specify the exact time and date when their package will arrive.
As more consumers resort to online shopping, businesses are expected to provide free shipping options to their customers. According to a survey, the majority of us shoppers prioritize free shipping over expedited shipping.
To avoid shopping cart abandonment, small businesses should look for strategies that will cover free shipping costs. Some options include:
- Increasing product prices: This will allow the customer to cover (partial or entirety) of shipping rates.
- Offering a minimum order amount: This will help your business increase the average order size per customer to offset shipping costs.
Improved Customer Support
Customer experience will improve with more flexible shipping options. To improve customer satisfaction and avoid shopping cart abandonment, small businesses should offer additional delivery options including: expedited, overnight, local pick up, same-day shipping, and carrier options. Allowing customers to have various shipping options will likely to improved customer satisfaction and repeat orders for your business.
Smart Delivery and Drone Deliveries
As delivery volume increases, the value of smart delivery and automated shipping options also rises. Businesses are also increasing funds for autonomous vehicles and drones. Major companies such as Google and Amazon have already invested in drone deliveries.
While there are still limited policies and regulations on self-driving and automated delivery methods, small business owners hoping to scale their brand should track the development of automated deliveries.
E-commerce Data Analytics
With improvements in data analytics, small businesses now have more access to tools and technologies that allow the analysis of pertinent shipping and marketing information. Predictive analysis tools will help you to track and analyze web traffic, pricing histories, shipping destinations, and parcel transit. Access to these information will help businesses make informed decisions that will improve customer experience.
For example, knowing the most common shipping destinations will allow businesses to decide the best location for their warehouse. Business owners will also find how to improve delivery with information on time in transit and forecasted shipping rates.
Successful small business shipping strategies in 2022
This 2022, the digital economy will continue to grow, leading to increased delivery volumes and possible supply constraints.
With this, the rising popularity of digital economies has encouraged more people to consider small business opportunities. However, with the tight competition within various e-commerce industries, small businesses need to look for creative ways to keep customers happy despite supply chain and shipping constraints.
Finding reliable and affordable shipping trends to adopt is critical for every small business, including:
- Free shipping
- Delivery windows
- Automated and smart deliveries
- Flexible shipping options
- E-commerce data analytics
The key is to think about customer experience when looking into effective shipping strategies for your business. Improved customer satisfaction will improve as you look into the specific needs and preferences of your target market.
On top of that, make sure that you align your business model and shipping strategies with your long-term business goals.