Digital retail was on the rise pre-covid, but consumer behavior has changed considerably since the pandemic hit. With more people working from home and turning to online shopping, ecommerce experienced incredible growth of 43% in 2020 and 14.2% in 2021.
Retail outlets that relied on in-person shoppers prior to COVID-19 scrambled to improve their ecommerce sites to capitalize on the new (forced) trend of online shopping. And rightly so. Over the course of two years, consumers spent $1.7 trillion shopping online.
But now that stores are welcoming shoppers back in person, and online sales are tapering off in 2022, brands need to consider the future of ecommerce if they want to remain successful.
And while Nostradamus didn't really chime in on ecommerce developments, we believe these are 5 trends he would have predicted for 2023 and beyond — if he hadn't died over 450 years ago.
1. Commerce continues to evolve
Much like organic lifeforms, evolution is a part of business. And commerce is no exception. In fact, over the past two years since the pandemic started, commerce has irrefutably been changed and has grown at exponential rates no one could have predicted.
The ability to quickly adapt to change
When the pandemic hit, and stores closed, retail outlets had to adapt, fast. Those that weren’t able to quickly develop a robust online presence and navigate global supply chain issues, suffered.
And with an impending recession, ecommerce outlets will need to adapt once again.
“Ecommerce is being reshaped by grocery shopping, a category with minimal discounting compared to legacy categories like electronics and apparel,” Patrick Brown, vice president of growth marketing and insights at Adobe, said in a press release. “It highlights a shift in the digital economy, where speed and convenience are becoming just as important as cost savings.”
Ecommerce and in-store shopping will diverge
As the world started to open up again in early 2022, shoppers were eager to get out of the house and visit stores. But their relationship with in-person shopping has changed. Consumers have acclimatized to quick and easy access and brick and mortar stores — especially clothing and accessories — have morphed into more of a showroom rather than a place to make a purchase.
"Consumers want two things: easy and fast. BOPIS [buy online pick-up in store] combines the convenience of online shopping with the speed of local retail. And while giant retailers like Target, Amazon, and Walmart can easily get this done, I think demand could drive solutions like ShipMonk or Deliverr to create dedicated locations for shoppers to pick up and return purchases." explains Bryan Falla, Director of Marketing at GoDataFeed.
Shopping online is efficient. Consumers can home in on exactly what they’re looking for and receive a personalized shopping experience thanks to artificial intelligence. Many consumers browse online first to save time before visiting a store in person to make their purchase.
Retail outlets that offer an online and offline shopping experience will find their customers making purchases online and using the physical location to pick up and return their purchases for convenience.
2. Melding on- and offline experiences
Marketers have long attempted to have an integrated strategy, however it’s often harder to execute. But savvy consumers are demanding better of brands, so stores must provide a more consistent on- and offline experience if they want to retain loyalty.
Brand consistency across all marketing channels
As consumers begin to distinguish less between online and offline shopping channels, brands will need to offer a consistent omnichannel experience for consumers — a customer may start their buying journey online and end it in-store.
As consumers move seamlessly between channels, brands will need to ensure their experience is consistent wherever they interact with the brand. This will help to build engaged communities, grow trust, and improve customer retention. This means consistent messaging on social media, ads, landing pages, and in-store.
Live shopping will offer improved customer experience
Live shopping is essentially selling products while on a live stream. It’s a more interactive experience for customers as they can ask questions, view real-time demos of products, and make purchases directly from the seller during the live stream.
“Social shopping is becoming more prevalent and can be done on various platforms – such as Amazon Live, TikTok Shop/Live, Instagram Live and Twitch – and also on a brand’s own website,” says Travis Johnson, global chief executive officer of Podean.
While live shopping has been popular in Asia and Latin America for several years now, adoption in North America and Europe has been slow.
Improved production, more focus on making it fun, and less focus on selling will help North Americans utilize this trend into 2023.
3. Content still reigns true
These days, it’s all about content, regardless of whether your brand works with influencers, content creators or relies on UGC. And to add a layer of convenience for your audience, making your social content shoppable is the next phase.
Content creators and user-generated content will replace influencers
Social media has been the perfect platform for emerging and well-known brands alike to grow their organic following. And considering more than half the world’s population spends approximately 2.5 hours on social media daily, it should be no surprise those with large followings have found a way to monetize their accounts.
Falla says, “Influencer marketing isn't going away, but it is reaching its saturation point. Meanwhile, only a handful of brands are currently using content creators. I expect this to hit mainstream. Soon we'll see even smaller retailers turning to content creators to generate creative for their product marketing campaigns.”
However, the trend is moving away from influencers as consumers are more interested in trying new products from people they trust. While a Kardashian might gain a quick surge in views, “real people” using and promoting products and brands they actually use is more authentic and genuine. And today’s savvy consumer can tell the difference. Brands can partner with content creators to develop user-generated content (UGC) to gain the trust of current and future customers.
Shoppable social feeds will be the norm
Speaking of content and social media, the way consumers interact with brands will continue to evolve on social. As more brands embrace the idea of a shoppable social feed, it will become the norm for consumers to make purchases while scrolling their feed and FYP. Currently, social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok accommodate social shopping as brands can tag products in posts, reels, and video.
“Shoppable ad functionality is now playing a bigger role than ever before, especially as work-from-home shopping habits are colliding with supply chain issues,” said Oz Etzioni, CEO of AI-driven dynamic ad-serving and ad personalization platform Clinch. “The benefits of shoppable commerce extend beyond the consumer as well, providing retailers with invaluable insight into consumer preferences for future campaigns and for the brand overall.”
4. Consumers win the data war
Cookies and consent is the name of the game. With no more cookies and requiring explicit consent, brands have to be even more creative with how they target customers. But actually this bodes much better for consumers and your brand.
Contextual marketing will replace retargeting ads
Online retailers rely heavily on capturing potential customers and returning customers with retargeting ads. But, thanks to the death of the digital cookie, these retargeting ads will become a thing of the past. In fact, search engine giants Mozilla Firefox and Safari phased out cookies some time ago.
But is the loss of third-party cookies a bad thing? Since many online users have lamented the creepiness of cookies, it could be positive for brands. Consumers are tired of being tracked online and the removal of cookies offers brands a better opportunity for more transparent and personalized digital advertising. This could also be the start of less personalization with retargeting ads being replaced with contextual marketing — showing consumers what they’re currently viewing versus what they previously viewed.
For example, having ads for running shoes alongside the signup for next year’s local marathon may be less creepy and more rewarding. And first-party cookies where consumers opt-in through newsletter signups, quizzes, and custom mobile apps can be used to continue offering personalized shopping experiences for customers.
Greater transparency and increased privacy with data collection
Data transparency laws are getting stricter around the globe as consumers demand more transparency around data collection. But while consumers are tired of being stalked online, they are willing to share personal information with brands they trust and that align with their values.
According to Russell Klein, Chief Commercial Officer, Loyalty Category at BigCommerce, “Consumers will place their trust in brands that demonstrate transparency about how they use their data.” This is forcing brands to collect data with more transparency and turn to community building over digital advertising.
5. Commerce welcomes AR and AI
The future is now and your brand needs a tech makeover. Using augmented reality IRL or artificial intelligence to create libraries of content for consumers is the way forward.
Augmented reality in retail solutions will pop up
As consumers demand more convenient ways to shop, augmented reality will become a natural part of the online shopping experience.
Not to confuse augmented reality (AR) with artificial intelligence, AR can offer many benefits to the consumer such as allowing them to virtually “try on” clothing or accessories (we see this a lot in online eyewear merchants) and redecorate their home with 3D imaging, all without ever leaving the house.
Early adopters like Nike and IKEA have been using AR for several years now. Nike has been experimenting with AR since 2017 and the company has said, “Nike Fit is a transformative solution and an industry first — using a digital technology to solve for massive customer friction. Nike Fit will improve the way Nike designs, manufactures and sells shoes — products better tailored to match consumer needs. A more accurate fit can contribute to everything from less shipping and fewer returns to better performance”.
This immersive technology is beneficial to retailers as it can help to increase sales by reducing friction at checkout, decrease returns, build customer loyalty, and can even be used to create social media content.
Brands will turn to AI for content creation and personalization
Creating content is time-consuming and can be costly. And with multiple sales channels to keep up with, brands will enlist the help of artificial intelligence (AI).
From searching new topics to cover to writing the rough draft of a blog, AI can save brands hours in research and creation. AI can also be used to keep tabs on competitors, open up new marketing channels, and even turn data into content.
AI will continue to be used to personalize the ecommerce experience for shoppers thanks to algorithms that can predict purchases and track shopping patterns.
Brands like Apple use machine learning to personalize the user experience by offering music selections, suggest map routes, and help users locate a photo in iCloud.
Stay ahead of the trends
Heading into 2023, it’s imperative you keep up with ecommerce trends in order to stay relevant and stay ahead of your competition. Not all these trends may be relevant to your business but knowing how they’re shaping ecommerce will help you stay ahead of the game.
It’s an ecommerce jungle out there, and only the fittest will survive.
A flexible and optimized data feed is one-way brands can capitalize on many of these trends.
As consumers continue to expect a seamless and consistent shopping experience, brands can look to tools like GoDataFeed to improve social selling and paid advertising with error-free attribute mapping and customized feeds for a more personalized shopping experience.
If you’re ready to ensure your store is performing at its best so you can focus on driving more sales, discover how GoDataFeed can streamline and automate your catalog, so you can effectively sell your products.