From the rise of the metaverse to the adoption of headless technologies, 2021 has been an enormous year of change for the web – and 2022 will be no different. Here are four trends that will take the retail industry by storm next year:

Make way for Web 3.0  

With the rising uncertainty around Big Tech, exhibited by Facebook’s privacy concerns and Google’s cookie discontinuation, individuals are demanding more transparency and a sense of security from their internet experience.

Enter Web 3.0, the next generation of the internet. Put simply, the goal of Web 3.0 (also known as the Decentralised Web) will focus on evenly distributing online power, making a more connected and open internet in which individuals and businesses will gain complete ownership and control of their data.

While only an idea at this stage, the likes of Twitter, GameStop, and Reddit are all putting resources towards building Web 3.0. In 2022, retailers will start experimenting with and investing in technology infrastructure to satisfy their customers’ needs and capitalise on emerging trends rather than waiting on the sidelines for someone else to figure it out.

Go headless or go home

Headless eCommerce is the future of digital sales, and in 2022, a majority of eCommerce offerings will adopt headless technologies. Put simply, headless works by decoupling the front and back ends of an eCommerce site, which allows for dynamic and instant changes to the front end (what customers see) without the need to mess with the back end (what you work in). Therefore, retailers are able to streamline the way they sell their product from a multitude of different customer touch points.

Headless adoption is set to grow next year, with two thirds of Australian businesses (66%) already using headless technologies and a further 1-in-5 businesses (21%) planning on adopting headless in 2022. 

A more human web  

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that now more than ever, relationships matter. For brands to succeed they must understand the value of connecting and interacting with their customers on a human level. 

Personalisation is key. According to WP Engine’s 2021 Generational Resilience Report, Gen Z have high expectations for an increasingly ‘human web’ in the next 5 years, with over half (56%) believing websites will begin exhibiting emotions. A further 69% of Gen Z believe they will interact with the internet via voice or movements rather than keyboards and mice in 5 years. Retailers must prepare their offerings to meet the demand for a more human web in 2022 by gathering insights about their customers and how they interact online and upping their personalisation tactics. 

The metaverse will reimagine retail  

2021 has seen an increase in AR and VR experiences on the web and an immense fascination with the metaverse. The metaverse is set to enhance customer experiences by creating parallel realities of virtual worlds, for example shopping. While it’s still early days, in 2022, players on the web will begin developing their own slice of the metaverse for all things business, eCommerce, and beyond. 

For retailers, the transition to virtual reality is closer than one might think. Just last month, major player Nike launched NIKELAND on Roblox, a bespoke immersive 3D world for Nike fans to connect, create, share experiences, and compete. This technology will give retailers the chance to develop entire worldly experiences for consumers to explore products and services. Think try before you buy but virtually. 

One thing is for sure, 2022 will see an increase in the demand for retailers to upgrade their digital services. Be it creating 3D shopping experiences or adopting a headless eCommerce approach, the technological revolution shows no signs of slowing down. 

Ricky Blacker is senior solutions engineer for Australia and New Zealand at WP Engine.