Embracing the ‘Commerverse’, by VMLY&R Commerce’s Fabio Medeiros

By Fabio Medeiros, strategy director, VMLY&R Commerce.

Three transformative commerce trends that put human behaviour at the core of it all.

We are still in the early days of 2022, and as a very good friend keeps telling me, let’s just wish it’s not a 2020-2. Fair comment to make and expectation to have. However, for someone tasked with the responsibility to write about trends…it kind of feels like a trap. Even more so for a planning freak as myself.

But despite ‘tomorrow’ being an uncertainty, let’s give it a try.

This is a piece centred on commerce, but even more so on humanized commerce. Defined not just by mere technology and transactions but by how the human factor contributes to the evolution of it all.

Hopefully, it will be an easy one to read, discuss and disagree with. I love a good tension and am happy to seed it every day at work or at home (my wife and colleagues would corroborate that).

There are three commerce trends areas to be talked about: D2C; BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) and Authenticity.

Let’s get started then.

Trend #1: D2C – we should call it D2Me.

It’s common knowledge that D2C is here to stay. I also understand that right now you’re probably thinking how full of s**t this guy is for stating the obvious. But the goal here is not to merely talk about D2C, but how human behaviour is influencing it today.

D2C discussions have been centred around business opportunities to optimize operations and profit. Hence, the conversations default to convenience, speed, inventory/availability, data and so on. Which is beyond fair. After all, these are some of the basics for businesses to thrive.

A few years ago, D2C was a very out of the box concept. Well…unless we go back to vacuum cleaners and encyclopedias being sold door-to-door. Today, we need to keep going outside the box to re-invent commerce. However, the box can no longer be defined by brands or a purely one-sided narrative. But by humans.

People and their behaviours are the always moving frontier that will keep on evolving and feeding into how D2C will morph. And to make matters more complex, the seamless and well-known consumer journey no longer exists.

So, while keeping an eye open for innovation and operational efficiency are a must (the inside the box cannot be ignored), the key for D2C to resonate and succeed, even more, lies in driving human value through entertainment and enjoyment, making it easier for consumers to feel compelled by a cultural proposition (not just a value proposition) that is not abruptly selling them something or abusing their time. Yet, it makes a quick conversion easy and natural.

It’s commerce made for people. Created around people.

It’s D2Me, not D2C.

Trend #2: BNPL – the life hack.

Once I heard someone talking about how surprised she was on a trip to Argentina in the mid-2000s, as when walking into a store to buy a 12USD shirt she was offered the choice to pay for that in up to three instalments of four dollars with no added interest.

Coming from Brazil, this was not new or unexpected to me. It’s just how things used to be and still are across many countries. It was a life hack that businesses discovered to prosper in economies where disposable income was a challenge and high (or hyper) inflation ruled.

And who doesn’t enjoy a good life hack?

It was a commerce solution that was born from human insight and business necessity. It helped to drive commerce and inclusion while feeding market expansion and amplification. It was a growth dynamo for many economies.

Fast forward to 2022 and BNPL has gone beyond individual retailers simply offering local opportunities. It’s a global phenomenon powered by technology and data. And it’s the tech and innovation aspects around it that is helping to drive purchase power and inclusion, as it allows for insights and understanding of human behaviour to seamless flow, leading to human-centric solutions that resonate with people (consumers) almost at a personal level.

Retail trends 2022, a recent report by Accenture stated the following:

“Increasing buyer and seller accessibility have also supported digital retail’s share of the overall market. By 2025, global e-commerce sales are forecasted to be 24.5% of total retail sales”. That’s a stunning number and it shows how offline shopping behaviour can easily migrate to the e-commerce sphere if all the conditions are in place.

People are hungry and eager to shop, and BNPL done right & responsibly is, weirdly, a capitalism driven way to drive inclusion. And I love it.

Trend #3: Authenticity – the truth will set you free.

What does it mean to be authentic in commerce?

Is it creating trust by displaying more product info, photos, reviews? Or is it more about the brand’s or companies positioning, purpose and TOV?

As it turns out it seems it’s about control. Or at least the sense of being in control. An inherent and strong human need that can and should not be ignored or put aside in the ‘commerverse’.

Apologies for the tacky and absolutely not very creative attempt to coin a new term. But despite this failed linguistic experiment, behaviour and culture tells us humans want control. From little everyday decisions such as what to choose for lunch on your preferred food delivery platform to life-changing ones such as which house or car to buy. 

Mingle’s Global Consumer Trends 2022 states that “consumers need clarity, transparency, flexibility and options to make decisions that suit their individual changing needs and circumstances”. And such authenticity in commerce comes from having a humanized approach. Putting people at the core of everything. From providing facts & info on products to delivering a genuine brand positioning, or offering improved shopping solutions and creating experiences that are mindful of shoppers and their needs.

The more authentic and mindful those who make up the ‘commerverse’ are, the more in control people will feel. Believing every choice they make is deprived of compromise, as their experience was altogether maximized and optimized.

Now, to sum up, imagine you get amazing content and engagement from a brand you aspire to and trust, then you realize you can buy what you see on screen immediately. Only you may not have the means to do so…but wait! Here’s a tool that helps you buy what you need or want in the easiest and most inclusive of ways, through a shopping experience that feels personalized for you.

That’s how D2C, BNPL and Authenticity come together to deliver humanized commerce. Easy no?