Today's consumers have more options than ever. As these consumers become increasingly diverse and seek a customized, convenient shopping experience, retailers need to adapt quickly.
Ecommerce trends play a huge role in shaping the performance of your online store. Let's take a look at 12 trends that will likely shape the future of ecommerce in 2023 and beyond.
1 - Retail, much like ecommerce, is here to stay.
As we know, ecommerce saw ground-breaking and historic growth in 2020 beyond anything we had seen before. Post-pandemic, retail has begun to quickly rebound despite all of the accelerated ecommerce adoption. It turns out that people still like their products in stores.
Digitally native and online direct-to-consumer brands will need to look to retail, much like brick and mortar stores will need to look online in order to grow. Online-to-offline integration is going to be key to scaling brands and growing business to new extremes.
2 - Perfecting the hybrid shopping experience.
Retail brands are struggling to find ways of bringing their in-store business online, but through the pandemic it has forced us to take a look at what customers value about the in store experience and how we might emulate that to the same degree online.
The appealing nature of buying a product in-store often comes down to being able to try the item, see the item, feel the item and even use it before buying it. We are seeing disruptions in industries like beauty, health, and home goods with AI (artificial intelligence) and AR (augmented reality) technology. Everything from using filters to try on different lipstick shades to placing a piece of furniture virtually in your space is making it more convenient for shoppers to try before they buy, even online.
There is an opportunity to bring personalized consultation online, an often coveted value of going into a store – to get advice from the associates on what you should buy. By using tactics like onsite quizzes, you can not only guide your customer in a direction for their purchase but it’s also a tactic marketers are using to capture more information about what their customer is ultimately shopping for.
One of the most valuable things about the in-store shopping experience is the customer service – you can talk with a real human. Brands are using services such as online chat functionality to bring that superior customer service into their online shopping experience. Exceptional online customer service is going to be a big differentiator for brands where their customers are hoping to get the same in-store support experience as they do online.
3 - Understanding your customer will always remain paramount for success, and the key to doing that is through customer data.
Empathy and understanding your customer are still key focuses and should remain that way forever. Having customer data is an immensely valuable asset brands are using to determine how to be more agile in meeting their customer where they are at and using feedback to determine how to better cater to their customer.
Brands can use formal customer research, usability tests, social media input, customer surveys, partner feedback, NPS and more in order to find more actionable information about what it is their customer is hoping to see and the experience they are expecting.
When we listen to the customer, we can make better business decisions that can ultimately increase lifetime value. To make the right decisions, often the first step is to have the right technology in place in order to capture customer data. As a first step, consider implementing an NPS module on your site to capture feedback from your customers. Getting real-time feedback from your customers can also help brands squash any issues that the feedback surfaces.
4 - Personalization is the new norm.
Personalization is going to become the new norm in marketing. There, we’ve said it.
Consumers are expecting more - to be welcomed digitally, their privacy respected, and to be treated personally. Forrester research has stated that 76% of customers say they will keep their business with a brand that makes them feel appreciated. Brands are going to need the ability to communicate with their customers in a personal and meaningful way to capture interest and to capture sales.
Having robust customer data and being able to use it across all marketing channels and efforts is going to be paramount for this. Retailers need to harness the power of customer data to deliver seamless, innovative, and automated experiences for their customers.
When we talk about customer data, we are talking about the ability to capture things like customer website behavior, purchase behavior, marketing channel engagement, and feedback and information provided directly from the customer, otherwise known as zero-party data.
There is truly a new value exchange that is occurring. Customers are willing to give their information but it needs to be worth their time, effort, and money. There needs to be an exchange of value for data. This is why it’s imperative that we are customer-centric and only seek to capture customer data that is truly going to help us deliver those exceptional experiences.
5 - Optimizing your website as often as your other channels.
As a marketer, you are likely optimizing all of your digital channels on a very regular basis but what about your website? Your website is the last touchpoint with your customers before they make their purchase, so why is it that so many brands slack when it comes to optimizing their website experience? Investing in conversion rate optimization is a logical next step that most brands are not doing but should be to ensure that traffic is moving through their website as intended.
A few low-hanging fruit type of optimizations you can be making today include: extending your email or ad messaging and imagery to your landing pages for a consistent brand message, removing unnecessary distractions to keep visitors in the checkout flow, testing scarcity and FOMO messaging, and capturing folks before they leave your site with sign-up forms for email or a discount to nudge them to a purchase.
6 - Profitable businesses. Period.
Profitable or finance-based marketing should be a high priority for brands. If you don’t know what MER (marketing efficiency ratio) is then now is the time to learn as it’s being used as a key KPI to measure the success of online marketing initiatives. Simply put, it’s your total revenue divided by total spend to answer the question of “How much did we make based on how much we have spent?”
At the core of profitable marketing is optimizing investments, measuring and improving ROI of content, expanding customer lifetime value, and creating a profitable customer acquisition model.
For brands looking at future funding, having a clear picture of your businesses current customer acquisition costs (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLTV), marketing efficiency rate (MER), repeat purchase rate, and a 360 degree of your customer is going to be essential. Stay close to your customer and ensure you can map an entire end to end customer journey.
7 - Generation Z is one to watch.
If you haven’t been thinking about Generation Z as a target for your business yet, just know that this generation is already influencing purchasing and redefining shopping behavior with much of the generation in their early-to-mid twenties already.
A generation that has been shaped by social media, Gen Z is a resilient generation that is looking for brands to connect with on an emotional level and appeal to their tastes and values. Gen Z will be looking for new shopping methods, will be open to switching up brands they shop from, and much like you’d expect, social media is going to be everything for these young shoppers.
So what do we know about Gen Z? They are native tech users, especially when shopping online and they prefer to shop directly from brands themselves. They are trend oriented and use social media to keep up with the latest trends. They enjoy shopping and often look to buy eco-friendly and sustainable products from brands that align with their values.
With the tail end of this generation soon to follow, paying attention to shopping trends from Gen Z is going to be important for connecting with this generation as they continue to influence marketing and shopping behavior as we know it.
8 - Social commerce is growing, and it’s driven by Millennials and Gen Z.
Social commerce is expected to grow significantly faster than traditional commerce and the majority of that will be driven by Millennials and Gen Z.
The biggest advice we give when using social media as a brand is to be authentic. You don’t need to be your customers, but you do need to understand them and a part of understanding them is knowing what platforms they are on. Remember, different social media outlets can attract a very different age group and demographic.
9 - #tiktokmademedoit
In recent study from Afterpay, 43% of respondents said #tiktokmademedoit - that they have made a purchase from social media platforms like TikTok. If your brand is not already on TikTok, now is the time. Brands have an opportunity with TikTok to connect with their customers in another immensely influential social media outlet and with social commerce on the rise, don’t underestimate TikTok’s ability to drive sales and genuine connection with your customers. But remember to stay authentic or you’ll be sniffed right out.
10 - SMS can no longer be ignored.
Brands are always going to need to reach their customers where they are at and never the other way around, and where are your customers at? They are spending all day on their mobile devices texting and messaging through apps. SMS and messaging apps like Messenger are expected to take over and they are performing at exceptional levels. Average open rates (practically 100%) and click rates for SMS often dominate those from email, making SMS a viable channel to reach your customers, connect with your customers, and ultimately drive revenue. Getting to interact with your customers may be accomplished via social media, but you can no longer ignore SMS and mobile messaging as a highly effective way of reaching your customer.
11 - Creators vs Influencers and their unique value to your brand.
In spite of its ups and downs, influencer marketing is still a powerful tool for driving brand awareness and engagement. The value of using influencers for your business doesn’t fall solely on these key performance indicators, but rather the insights about your customers that you can receive from them. It's important for brands to take advantage of the insights and feedback they receive from creators and influencers to understand what their audiences like, what they want to hear and what they will respond to. These are golden customer research nuggets that can help your brand cater to your target audiences.
An important thing to keep in mind is creators and influencers are not one in the same and they all come with their own strengths and weaknesses. Creators are often those in your network that can create content for your brand, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they have influence in their audience. On the flip side, influencers tend to drive engagement in their audience but they may not have all the skills it takes to create beautiful branded content. Beyond their unique skill sets, you shouldn’t count on one influencer to deliver you results across all platforms either. The content you are hoping to market needs to fit into your creator or influencers wheelhouse for it to be effective. Knowing the difference can help you build relationships with the types of creators or influencers that can best meet the needs of your marketing initiative and strategize and execute a successful campaign.
12 - Sustainability is becoming increasingly more important.
Sustainability efforts are becoming increasingly more important for consumers and becoming a differentiator in determining what brands people will shop with. Brands with sustainability efforts should lean into this and brands that do not should consider what difference they can make in their sustainability efforts as more consumers are looking to purchase from those who have similar values.
Recent studies have suggested that a considerable amount of consumers have stopped buying from or switched to another brand to buy more sustainable products or from a more sustainable brand. It’s notable enough that businesses should be paying attention to the trends in consumer behavior circling sustainability.
What are you doing now to optimize your ecommerce business for these trends?
While you can't predict the future, you can anticipate what's coming up and make sure to get ahead of the curve. How can you be sure your online stores will remain competitive in 2022, 2023 and beyond? You don’t need to adapt your business based on every trend, but proper planning for the changing ecommerce ecosystem will help your business capitalize on the right opportunities.
Need help applying the latest ecommerce trends to your 2023 strategy? Learn more about our custom growth plans and how we can help you discover fresh insights and actionable steps to skyrocket the trajectory of your ecommerce store.