Ecommerce will remain a vital channel for businesses in 2023, but one that may be about to lose some of its influence.
While the race for ecommerce space has led to rapid growth over the last decade, studies suggest things are starting to flatten, with ecommerce growth globally showing signs of stalling. With this in mind, it’s important for brands to stop considering the ecommerce future of their business as a guarantee of success and to pay closer attention to the things that shape that success. Namely, ecommerce trends.
What are ecommerce trends?
Ecommerce trends, or online shopping trends, are the ever-changing common habits of customers online. While the early days of ecommerce would have made straight-forward features like 360 degree product viewing a trend that brands could jump on, modern customers expect a lot more from the companies they support. And they expect a lot more support to view your content, as studies show some customers now use up to five devices to access the internet and your brand has to be reachable on all of them if you hope to offer reliable engagement. These expectations and trends change with every passing year and help shape the content and products brands need to create to keep up with modern tastes, as well as the competition.
What trends will be important in 2023?
Online shopping trends dictate the way your customers expect your business to act. Here are the top 10 trends to consider as you plan your business’ ecommerce growth over 2023.
1. Online may lose its lockdown crown
The pandemic saw ecommerce gain unrivaled access to a captured customer base. Brands that never had an online shopping portal stepped up their game to survive lockdown and customers who previously favored brick-and-mortar stores were forced to make new online habits. But as we move closer to a life free from lockdown restrictions, these off-line stores are enjoying a healthy rebound. In fact, brick-and-mortar stores have enjoyed a growth rate of 6.5% from 2020-2021, the most since 2016.
Brands can’t rest when it comes to using their online presence to make up for a lack of customer presence in stores. This year will be vital for establishing omnichannel marketing plans that make both your online and offline channels hold the same appeal. From buy online, pick up in store options to ‘experiences’ that are the perfect source of social media mentions and shares such as in-store champagne shopping evenings or even yoga sessions.
2. Social media giants are unlikely to be disrupted
Between Facebook’s first signs of decline and Twitter’s ownership drama, it may seem like social media giants are losing their shine in the eyes of users. But despite this, it’s unlikely a disruptive social media alternative will be arriving in 2023, so businesses should keep all bases covered.
Facebook may not be the preferred platform of the young and trendy today, but the ecommerce statistics suggest it is still the must-have channel for general engagement. While decline was reported in 2022, this is barely a dent in the wider up-take of the platform, which has increased by over 40% since 2017. With that in mind, brands should work to keep their Facebook channels as fresh and updated as Instagram and TikTok.
3. VR takes over
Virtual reality has become increasingly accessible over the past few years, and increasingly accepted as not a mere fad but a genuine tool by customers. In fact, 71% of customers said they would be more likely to shop with brands that used VR. But this doesn’t mean customers have to put on a VR headset to enjoy the virtual reality experiences of your brand.
Examples of how VR is being used to lay the way for this ecommerce future include furniture brands that allow customers to view their products within their home. There are also fashion brands that allow for things like spectacle try-ons using a phone camera, or beauty brands that do the same with shades of hair dye. This use of 3D technology that gives customers a virtual ‘hands-on’ experience has been reported to increase conversions by as much as 40%.
4. Online channels must keep up
As mentioned above, some customers are using as many as five devices to get online and that means your website and apps have to keep up. Functionality is vital to reducing bounce rate and ensuring conversions. 2023 may be the perfect time to look at where your online channels are falling short or are appearing to look outdated, and to get them back up to scratch.
One area where businesses may fall into this trap is legacy software. The SaaS model has long become standard for businesses both big and small, allowing you to benefit from things like in-the-cloud operations that prevent your updates from falling behind or data from being lost. It also allows for a new level of scalability where businesses can simply add another account instead of setting up entirely new systems and extensive software maintenance. This is a key area where following the trends of your competition will also keep you ahead, such as using the same standard of CMS for your website to ensure similar levels of easy user interaction.
5. Subscriptions are still growing
Subscription services are unlikely to slow in their growth over 2023 — in fact, subscription businesses are achieving five times faster growth than the S&P 500. This applies to a range of products and services including:
Also known as the ‘Netflix Model,’ this can be used to describe movie and TV streaming services but has also come to cover other niches like online fitness classes. In terms of audio, this model covers music, podcasts and audiobooks.
Subscription boxes got an extra boost of popularity during lockdown and tapped into the ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) mentality that drives 60% of millennial purchases. They are also a flexible model, able to be applied to just about anything, from fresh food to razor blades.
Technology and software
This covers things like file storage on the cloud, software like photo editors and POS systems for businesses. Generally speaking, in 2023 and beyond, most any software you need will likely be via subscription plan and not the one-off payment and local installation of old.
Subscriptions don’t have to be the core offering of a business to help boost its conversions. Consider Amazon Prime, where a subscription can bring added convenience to the products and services they already offer, or printer cartridge subscriptions that automatically get ordered to ensure customers never run out of ink.
6. Users are the new content creators
User-generated content (UGC) continues to grow, with 41% of US consumers saying they stream more user-generated content than TV shows or movies. That’s a notable ecommerce statistic considering TV and movie streaming services are rarely free and yet is free-to-view UGC that remains the priority of those same paying customers. Eighty-percent of US social media users check their channels daily, so brands should aim to have fresh content always ready to greet them.
One of the most common ways to do this is to tap into the power of influencer marketing. By aligning with social media users who have sizable followings, your brand awareness can grow in an authentic way i.e. through the gaze of a real customer. The power of the influencer is recognized worldwide, for example, in Brazil alone almost 90% of the population follow at least one influencer online. Merchants can collaborate with these personalities and the vital link they have to their targeted customer base to build credibility and trust, as well as reach a massive audience in a single post, with advertising tools making it easy to see every campaign’s total impact.
7. New, older customers will need to be convinced
The pandemic forced a new set of customers online, most notably, older customers who may not have been particularly interested in shaping an ecommerce future for their shopping habits. Now that these older shoppers are online, though, it’s important that businesses consider their needs as much as millennials or Gen Z. One of the biggest areas of concern for more mature customers is in security, and it should certainly be a priority for any business.
For these mature shoppers, 70% cite secure payment methods as a key reason why they might shop with a certain brand. However, even among Gen Z, Gen X, and millennials, this was noted as a key concern for at least 49% of all demographics, increasing in importance as customer age increased. This taps into a mentality that all age groups can share and that is a sense of transparency. Be clear on how you process user data and how you secure your website for safe payments in a way that is easy to understand for all age groups.
8. Deliver on delivery
Another of the lockdown ecommerce trends, the expectations customers have for delivery have increased. A vague suggestion of ‘3-5 business days’ may no longer be enough. Studies have shown that when businesses fail to be most accurate about the delivery date of orders, almost 70% of customers would refuse to order from that business again. But deliveries that delivers on customer satisfaction is about more than being on time.
Brands should aim for transparency and constant engagement, so customers can know at any time precisely where their product is in the process. For some brands, that may mean being able to track a driver on an app; for others, it may mean email updates with accurate time slots. You may also want to consider new ways of adding convenience to this part of the purchase cycle such as giving customers the freedom to split purchases into multiple packages, send them to different locations, collect items in-store or pre-order new items. Free and easy returns are another thing that are quickly becoming standard among any respectable brand.
9. Flexible payments continue
With the advent of new payment options like Klarna, customers have come to expect more flexible ways to pay. The idea of ‘buy now, pay later’ has always been an appealing purchasing model, and services that apply this model to even small, everyday purchases have quickly been adopted by customers.
Flexible payments also help tackle an issue all ecommerce sites face — cart abandonment. Customers visit sites, add items to their carts, seem intent to buy and then change their minds. Ecommerce statics show several reasons for this directly connected to payment obstacles, including:
- Total cart cost
- Added fees like shipping
- Declined cards
- Not enough payment options
- Poor returns policy
Flexible payments can directly help solve the first issue, allowing customers to break down their total purchase into manageable installments. This also helps counter the second, as any additional fees can also be considered less significant if they are a part of a smaller installment. It also gives the sense of credibility that comes from brands that value their customers and answer their needs with a variety of payment methods.
10. Purchases aren’t a trade-off of personal
An interesting ecommerce trend that seems to buck it entirely. While personalization is becoming increasingly important for customers, whether that’s Gen Z looking for social media shopping that speaks to them or baby boomers seeking sites that share their values when it comes to quality and security, not everyone wants to share intimate personal details.
This trend taps into several other areas, security for one, but also the cart abandonment rate. Almost 25% of sales lost at checkout are due to customers being forced to make accounts. This may not seem like a massive ask, but the consequences for customers can be more troublesome, such as:
- Nuisance marketing emails flooding their inbox
- Their payment details being retained on the account
- Their address and personal details being retained
- Their data being kept and vulnerable to data breaches of the brand’s tech
Just as flexible payment is becoming more and more standard, flexibility in general should be a trend for your business in the coming years. Give your customers the opportunity to purchase without an account and make it default to not retain payment details unless they opt in, instead of the other way around. Opting into rather than out of marketing emails also implies you value customer preferences and needs.
With ShareASale and our merchant tools, you can reach your customers in a new way and enjoy deeper engagement that will help you align your brand to the online shopping trends people are looking for in 2023.