The eCommerce industry has been on a roller coaster for the last couple of years.
In 2020, eCommerce sales grew by 54.9 percent from 2019. This radical shift is primarily because of brick-and-mortar sales channels’ partial or total closure.
Then, in 2021, as the effects of the pandemic eased off, eCommerce sales retreated to a more predictable 17% growth rate.
As Gandalf famously said in The Lord of the Rings, “things are now in motion that cannot be undone.”
The pandemic has had many lasting implications. One of them is the consumers’ realization that they no longer need to leave their houses to get anything and everything they need.
Case and point, online purchases are projected to account for nearly 24 percent of all retail sales by 2025.
These stats present a tremendous opportunity for online business owners.
Still, any serious eCommerce entrepreneur must stay on top of industry trends to remain competitive.
This article highlights thirty eCommerce trends to watch in 2023 to help keep you in the loop.
Let’s dive in.
Social Commerce Will Grow To New Levels
According to a report by Accenture, social commerce is projected to grow three times as fast as traditional eCommerce, reaching a staggering $1.2 trillion in 2025.
In 2023, social commerce sales in the United States are expected to reach $45.74 billion, with more than 50% of the adult population buying on social media.
Facebook is emerging as the most trusted social media platform for purchases.
The growth of social media commerce is fueled by tech-savvy Gen Zers and Millennials’ inclination to make buying decisions based on influencer content.
This year, brands will continue to leverage social media shopping integrations and checkout to tap into the power of social commerce.
ROPO Will Rise
For starters, ROPO is an acronym for Research Online Purchase Offline.
ROPO isn’t necessarily something new. However, the trend is becoming more prominent among online buyers. That’s how 92 percent of shoppers begin their customer journey these days.
Why ROPO? Because it empowers customers with all the info they need to make informed purchases. On top of that, ROPO saves the customer time while still providing an in-store experience.
As a retailer, the rise of ROPO means you must double down your efforts to increase your brand’s online presence.
Amazon Will Keep Winning
In 2019, Feedvisor predicted that 72 percent of brands would be on Amazon in the next five years. Fast forward to 2022, and 54 percent of brands are already on the platform. Every indication shows that Feedvisor’s 2019 prediction is likely to pass.
Thirty-two percent of companies selling on Amazon say that sales on the marketplace account for 75 percent of their total online sales. These figures show that selling on Amazon offers brands unprecedented market potential.
Sixty-one percent of companies sell on Amazon because it affords them access to bigger audiences. And what bigger eCommerce audience is there than the user base of Amazon.com?
There’s no denying that Amazon will continue to dominate the eCommerce space in 2023 and beyond.
mCommerce Will Continue to Rise
As mCommerce (or mobile commerce) increases, it’s beginning to look like the next true frontier for online shopping.
According to Insider Intelligence, mCommerce will double its share of total online sales by 2025.
Even just five years ago, doing all (or the majority) of your shopping on a mobile device seemed unintuitive.
Companies like Amazon and other eCommerce brands have created a near-perfect mobile user experience.
Now, shopping on mobile is more convenient and often more accessible than using a desktop platform (thanks to Amazon’s mobile augmented reality tools that let you digitally “place” items in your physical space before purchasing them).
Retail mCommerce sales reached $359.32 billion in 2021, a 15.2 percent increase over 2020. Retail mCommerce sales are projected to hit $728.28 billion by 2025, accounting for 44.2 percent of total eCommerce sales in the United States.
The growth in usage of shopping apps is the primary driver of mCommerce sales growth, especially with Gen Zers and Millennials’ massive spending power. Examples of mobile wallets supporting mCommerce include Amazon Pay and Google Pay.
Customers Will Expect Localized and Personalized Experiences
Personalization involves using detailed info about a specific customer to customize the marketing messages you send them. This info may include their name, when they last visited your online store, the products they added to their cart but didn’t buy, etc.
On the other hand, localization involves sending the right message to the right customer at the right time and in the right place.
In other words, localization uses real-time data about individual markets to generate hyper-specific content.
With the rising competition in the eCommerce space, personalization and localization will be more crucial in 2023.
Now, 51 percent of customers expect brands to anticipate their needs and make appropriate product recommendations even before the buyer makes contact.
Chatbots Will Double as Voice Assistants
Cost benefits, marketing, opportunities to upsell, and shopping cart recovery are driving the demand for chatbots in eCommerce. It’s not surprising that eCommerce retail transactions completed via chatbots are forecasted to generate a staggering $122 billion by 2023.
Further, it’s just a matter of time before voice eCommerce takes over. Brands like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are leading the way in voice interfaces and chatbots.
One and a half years after unveiling Echo, Amazon reported that 32% of owners had already used the device to buy online – and that was in 2016.
With the increased usage of smartphones, voice assistants and chatbots will be in the next phase of evolution in 2023 and beyond.
Subscription-Based Models Will Rise
Remember when the only subscription-based service that existed was Netflix? These days, every industry, product, and service has an available subscription service.
Subscription models are revolutionizing how eCommerce businesses act and interact with their customers.
Shoppers are drawn to subscription-based services because they offer convenience, personalization, variety, and value.
On top of that, a subscription business model allows businesses to predict revenue more accurately and reduce customer acquisition costs. It’s truly a win-win.
Faced with an opportunity to boost revenues 5 to 8 times faster by implementing a subscription model, many eCommerce businesses are moving away from one-off payments. This way, they can create “forever transactions” with more repeat sales.
Many businesses even use “annual recurring revenue” as a critical KPI.
Simply put, adopting a subscription model can help with customer retention. And because increasing customer retention by 5 percent can boost profit from 25 to 95 percent, the uptick for subscription-based services is expected to continue in 2022 and beyond.
Voice Search Will Take the Lead
By the end of 2023, nearly 50 percent of all internet searches will occur with the help of voice search. Further, 55 percent of all American homes will own a smart speaker, and voice shipping will hit $40 billion by the same year.
With such features, any online business owner ignoring voice search translates to losing out on an opportunity to make money.
Voice search allows businesses to offer a personalized shopping experience, a significant factor when trying to win customers.
It also makes it easy for customers to leave a review, which helps draw more shoppers and create social proof for your business.
Here’s a great article on optimizing your web presence for voice search.
Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) Will Continue to Grow
Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is transforming online shopping.
BNPL used to be commonplace for large purchases like cars and furniture (for us ’90s kids, remember “putting something on layaway” at Wal-Mart?).
Now, customers are using BNPL for everyday purchases thanks to services like Afterpay and PayPal.
We can reasonably attribute the rise in BNPL’s popularity to several factors. First, BNPL offers an affordable way to finance purchases, unlike credit cards.
Moreover, BNPL is a more convenient and flexible way to buy for customers wary of credit cards or who don’t carry cash.
For eCommerce business owners, leveraging BNPL means an opportunity to attract the 62 percent of customers that check a brand’s policy before buying.
Augmented Reality for Product Visualization Will Become Standard
eCommerce businesses haven’t even begun to tap into the incredible power of augmented reality (AR).
Amazon’s AR view is just a peek into what’s possible once more businesses utilize this technology.
By way of reminder, augmented reality is superimposing a computer image onto a real-life image or video, thus creating a composite illusion of that digital image existing in time and space.
A perfect example of this is Pokemon Go, the mobile game that exploded in popularity around 2016, which placed animated creatures in real-life locations throughout the world.
Businesses can now use AR to allow customers to preview products or experience services in their environment before buying. This way, a potential customer is likely to choose the right product for the first time (resulting in fewer returns).
Gucci, for instance, uses AR to let customers “try on” shoes before purchasing. Pointing their smartphone’s camera downwards, shoppers can view the digital overall of different shoes on their feet, helping them make a more informed product decision.
Meanwhile, We MakeUp has created an AR-powered filter on Facebook to allow users to sample different lipstick shades.
With 70% of customers expected to be more loyal to businesses providing AR as part of their shopping experience, brands should be researching how to leverage this technology in 2023 and into the future.
Marketing Automation Will Continue to Be Essential
Marketing automation platforms let you leveraging technology to streamline marketing processes and automate redundant marketing tasks.
Automation isn’t anything new in marketing. It’s technically marketing automation when customers receive an automatic email thanking them for their purchase.
What’s new is how deep these marketing automations can go, especially when you add in artificial intelligence (AI).
Automation platforms can now use machine learning to predict customer needs and make content suggestions. Marketing automation tools can also synthesize massive amounts of data into concise KPIs, saving employees days or weeks’ worth of work.
Even though marketers have used marketing automation tools to manage their campaigns, it has become almost impossible to perform everyday marketing tasks without them.
From text messaging to lead generation and trigger-based emails, marketing automation continues to be at the center stage of the eCommerce business.
And with 62 percent of the world’s population accessing the internet, business owners need more robust digital tools to help them increase their reach to make the most of opportunities online.
Delivery Time Communications are Even More Crucial
Shoppers are looking for dependability and transparency when buying online. This translates to nurturing trust for an eCommerce store by communicating lead times clearly and regularly.
According to statistics, 67 percent of consumers are less likely to buy again from an online retailer that delays shipping and fails to communicate.
In 2023, brands that want to win more customers must adopt a transparent checkout system and, most importantly, communicate often with their customers.
Make your shipping process less complicated to shorten the time it takes for customers to have their products.
And with the increase of channels that a business can use to sell and engage customers, prompt communication shouldn’t be a problem.
Businesses to Optimize Digital Strategy for Conversion
Digital marketing, done right, is one of the most effective strategies to market an eCommerce business.
Still, running a digital marketing campaign without a well-thought-out plan may not bring success.
Businesses can use heat maps to determine visitors’ behavior as they navigate your site. Insights from these heat maps can serve as the foundation for optimizations.
A/B testing will become more relevant in 2023 for online retailers that want to survive in today’s dynamic and highly competitive market.
A scalable A/B testing culture can help businesses understand pain points in their conversion channel to achieve a higher ROI from the existing traffic.
Brands can also optimize their digital marketing strategy for conversion by creating a robust online community and solidifying their social media presence.
Sales Within Metaverse And Other Gaming Platforms Will Increase
The Metaverse is here, and many online retailers and brands are hopping on the bandwagon. Much like the internet in 1999, the Metaverse is a bit like the Wild West. It’s loosely defined (and loosely regulated).
While the technology to support eCommerce is still in its infant stages, the future is promising.
The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is the primary factor behind Metaverse’s growing popularity among brands.
The possibilities and opportunities that Metaverse brings forth will become more apparent as Gen Z and Gen Alpha consumers come of age.
These digitally native generations spend a significant amount of their time immersed in online experiences — primarily through gaming — and buying virtual goods and services within these environments.
Some of the brands already involved with gaming and metaverse platforms include Nike, Balenciaga, and Vans.
Rise of B2B Ecommerce
More and more B2B consumers want a B2C experience. That often means completing the purchase cycle entirely online, unassisted by a person.
According to Digital Commerce 360, retail sales on B2B eCommerce platforms, marketplaces, and log-in portals increased by 17.8 percent to $1.63 trillion.
Further details by Statista reveal that the North American B2B eCommerce will exceed $4,600 by 2025.
On the other hand, the McKinsey & Company report suggests that 65 percent of B2B businesses will fully transact online in 2022. And for the first time, B2B companies are more likely to prefer eCommerce over in-person sales.
Why the shift? Because eCommerce drives revenue. The same McKinsey & Company says that 18 percent of B2B revenue comes from eCommerce, higher than sales from video conferencing, email, and direct phone marketing.
Growth of the Forward Deploy Fulfillment Center (FDFC)
For a long time, distribution centers have relied on large, centralized warehouses. However, this is beginning to change with evolving customer needs and preferences.
Now, brands are shifting from a single-tier distribution network to Forward Deploy Fulfillment Centers (FDFC).
With FDFCs, businesses are setting up small and cost-efficient fulfillment facilities closer to the end customer, preferably in lockers or large office buildings.
FDFC is a new model that forward-thinking eCommerce businesses use to create customer-centric distribution networks (and fulfill rapid shipping time expectations).
A use case of FDFCs is third-party pick-up points found in grocery stores. Think of customers living in large complexes. With FDFCs, they can place orders for necessities like groceries and pick them up without leaving their building.
Customers Expect Seamless Online Purchases
With more and more people shopping online these days, customers expect seamless, convenient experiences.
This means that eCommerce businesses must continue to create a unified shopping experience across their online channels and brick-and-mortar stores.
This trend is directly linked with the Research Online Purchase Offline (ROPO) shopping trend mentioned above.
Moreover, more customers buy online and pick up their products later at a designated physical store or curbside.
Many businesses adopted the “curbside pickup” trend as a safety measure during the height of the pandemic. Now, it’s become the new normal for many consumers.
According to eMarketer, buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) will experience double-digit growth by 2024.
By providing a seamless shopping experience, brands can help save their customer’s time, thus building more trust and driving more sales and revenue.
Sustainability Is Becoming A Higher Value to Customers
Sustainability is no longer a choice for online shops — it’s a must.
According to the Sustainability Annual Trends report, the growth of eCommerce has created an unprecedented environmental impact.
The sheer volume of waste generated by the supply-chain network, for instance, has put eCommerce businesses under a microscope and prompted them to reevaluate their practices.
Many brands are now finding simple, sustainable solutions — most notably eco-friendly packaging.
On top of that, many retailers have given their products an ecological makeover. Some have reduced the waste in their supply chain, switched to recycled materials, or otherwise adopted some sort of environmental stewardship in their production cycles.
AI-Assisted Upselling and Cross-Selling Ecommerce Will Be Essential
If you’ve ever shopped or looked for a product on Amazon, you’ve probably noticed a few different things:
- Amazon will recommend products that go along with the product you’re purchasing.
- Your Amazon homepage will now change to reflect your product purchasing trends.
You’re witnessing artificial intelligence (AI) in action. Amazon is building a real-time profile of your likes, dislikes, interests, and where you’re most likely to spend the most money.
It then uses this information to propagate your homepage with products you’re likely to purchase (or even shows you’re likely to watch if you utilize their Prime Video streaming service).
Online businesses are now leveraging AI to analyze customer data to recommend the right product to the right customers.
With this information, brands can recommend products based on parameters like views, frequency of visits, and product ratings.
This way, eCommerce brands run accurate up-sell and cross-sell campaigns to increase revenue and improve customer satisfaction.
The Rise of Headless and API-Driven Ecommerce
Headless commerce involves decoupling an online store’s front-end presentation layer, including elements like styles, graphs, text, color, etc., from the backend eCommerce functionalities like infrastructure, checkout, pricing, security, etc.
The benefit is that the eCommerce portion of the business (the one that processes transactions and inventory data) can seamlessly integrate with other platforms.
By leveraging headless commerce, businesses can determine where trade takes place with the help of APIs.
With over $1.65 billion in funding raised for headless technologies from 2020 to 2021 alone, headless commerce will be a trend to watch in 2023 and beyond.
Video Marketing Will Remain Relevant
Video marketing is powerful. 86 percent of marketers that use video say it has helped them with lead generation. Further, 49 percent of businesses report that video has helped them reduce support calls.
Remember, YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine, and often the first place people turn to when they need information on how to do something.
Couple that with the fact that Google is now presenting video results natively on their SERPs (search engine result page), and you should have more than enough reason to invest in video marketing.
What’s more, video is becoming the #1 digital content format for most eCommerce businesses. In 2022, brands will continue to use videos for product launches, content creation, and customer reach.
A video marketing campaign can help online stores foster trust with their audiences and “humanize” your brand by putting a face to the name.
Further, video is an excellent tool to attract new customers and increase brand awareness. In particular, video advertising on social media platforms is expected to take the spotlight in 2022.
Content to Play an Integral Role in Customer Retention
Integrating an effective customer retention strategy in a content marketing plan can help online businesses create a community of advocates for their brands.
Not only is this community likely to buy from you again, but they’ll also help spread the word about your business.
And being of the most trusted and reliable channels, word of mouth marketing is vital for helping potential customers’ decision-making. In fact, 92 percent of consumers trust their friend’s recommendations.
In 2022, eCommerce businesses that leverage content strategies like text notifications, customer onboarding, and email marketing will see more success. Brands can also publish customer success stories on social media to help boost retention.
Brands Will Strive to Build Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is crucial to any business. Customers who return to your store spend 67 percent more than new customers. Besides, it’s ten times more expensive to win a new customer than to retain one.
Given the importance of building customer loyalty, brands will want to continue implementing strategies to power their retention campaigns in 2022.
More businesses will seek to improve customer experience and use effective communication channels like social media and webchat.
Reward programs and offers will be a mainstay in the industry to give consumers one more reason to stick to a particular product or service.
Customers Will Expect Enhanced Shipping Options
eCommerce logistics will continue evolving to match the expanding customer expectations.
While most businesses start in eCommerce by adopting simple strategies like free shipping or charging a flat rate, there’s an emergence of strategic shipping options by brands that want to stand out.
In 2022, we’ll see an increase in demand for outsourced third-party logistics (3PL) services. Brands will leverage 3PLs to provide distribution facilities for efficient fulfillment and order processing in multiple locations.
Further, more brands will move in to optimize last-mile logistics. We are already experiencing innovations designed to solve the last-mile challenge. These include eCargo bikes, light electric vans, drones, and autonomous vans.
Amazon Prime Air, for instance, flies drones to offer 30-minute delivery to some of its customers.
Snap and Shop Services Will Grow in Popularity
Image shopping is a new trend that will continue to grow in popularity over the next several years. With cameras becoming easily accessible these days, it is getting easier to shop online.
Now, customers can direct their camera toward a product they want to purchase, and AI-driven eCommerce apps can automatically detect it. We’re already starting to see the emergence of mobile apps that support this functionality.
CamFinder is a perfect example of such a mobile app that users can use for online shopping. Look out for more such-like mobile applications this year.
Meanwhile, platforms like Pinterest use brand-exclusive cameras to help customers interpret images on the service. In addition, the platform is working with eCommerce businesses and search engines to promote affiliate products.
Consumer Privacy Preferences Will Chance
Privacy regulations are changing, prompting eCommerce businesses to rethink how they work with their customers.
In 2020, for instance, there were over 1,000 cases of data breaches in the United States. In the meantime, 158.8 million people were affected by data exposures the same year.
We’ll start to see stricter data privacy regulations moving forward.
In addition, as customers become aware that they can find out which companies have their data, online stores will be transparent with their data collection strategies.
And with the proposed enactment of ePrivacy regulations, eCommerce businesses will invest hefty sums to ensure compliance with these new rules.
Direct-To-Consumer Businesses Continue To Flourish
Implementing direct-to-consumer (D2C) processes are more critical than ever.
D2C offers innovative online business owners the best opportunity to nurture direct relationships with their customers.
For starters, D2C involves selling products directly to customers via the company’s online store, bypassing wholesalers and third-party retailers.
Businesses that build D2C eCommerce capabilities will stand a better chance to steer their brand strategy and innovation based on real-time customer insights (plus avoid the costs and variables of a large supply chain).
With these insights, these businesses can offer a personalized experience to their clientele, increasing retention and customer lifetime value.
A D2C strategy done right means eCommerce businesses can become less reliant on e-giants like Rakuten or Amazon and create an opportunity to increase their market share.
Businesses Will Use AI for Content Creation
Artificial intelligence is here, and apart from helping create a seamless shopping experience, it is also promising to help businesses ramp up their content production capacity.
Already, there are AI writing tools that can churn out 100,000 words per month. Some claim to generate content that can rank in SERPs within minutes.
While the quality of the writing is a far cry from an actual human with real experiences and expertise, the writing is on the wall — AI-written content will only become more prevalent.
Even if AI writing tools can’t produce content outright, they can help “real” writers get out of writers’ block by generating ideas and outlines.
Influencer Marketing Will Bring More Sales
There’s no denying that influence marketing can help your business generate more sales.
Consider the following stats:
Businesses rake in $6.5 for every $1 they invest in influencer marketing. Seventy percent generate $2 more, and 13 percent make $20 more. Only 18 percent of brands fail to generate any revenue with influencer marketing.
With 2.14 billion people expected to buy goods online, influencer marketing will continue to attract interest from eCommerce businesses.
Many businesses will use the strategy to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to their online stores.
Businesses with small or no followings are prime candidates for influencer marketing, as they can ride the coattails of someone else’s fanbase. However, many large businesses also utilize influencers as one of their primary marketing channels.
Conversion Rate Optimization Will Be Essential
Having a business website is one thing. However, converting users who visit the site is entirely different — and that is where website optimization comes in.
Faced with cut-throat competition, eCommerce businesses hoping to make money in 2022 must optimize their websites for conversion.
Some tried and tested website optimization strategies include:
- Collecting and analyzing website data to learn more about your visitors and their preferences.
- Performing competitor analysis to enable you to highlight your unique selling points.
- Accessing and tweaking your conversion funnel.
- Clearly defining your value proposition.
- Optimizing the layout for your website’s critical pages.
- Building customer trust with reviews and testimonials.
While the post-Covid-19 eCommerce landscape is still somewhat hazy, one thing is clear — more businesses are selling online. Likewise, more people buy online, whether on mobile or through social media.
If there’s one throughline in all of these trends, it’s this: customers expect stellar user experiences in all areas of eCommerce. That includes browsing, purchasing, shipping, and customer support. And likewise, they’re becoming less tolerant of poor user experiences.
If you want to learn more about accelerating your eCommerce growth, check out our blog post on the topic here.
If you’re not delivering a stellar customer experience with your shipping times and logistics, we can help with that, too.
SkuVault is an all-in-one inventory management platform designed to help you streamline your inventory management through robust quality assurance, tracking, and reordering features.
In other words, we want to help you spend time on your business and not in your business.
For more information about how SkuVault can help you deliver a quality experience with every purchase, click the link on the screen and sign up for a live demo.