It’s a scary thought that 2023 is already almost upon us, as the excitement of the Festive Season builds and – dare we say it – we all start to think about what the new year will hold for businesses.
One thing that is absolutely a given is that, despite a strong return of shoppers to brick-and-mortar establishments, ecommerce is set to soar to unprecedented heights in the coming 24-36 months.
A recent report suggests trends which emerged in Covid have set new expectations, and as a result, spending will increase from its current global level of $ 5 trillion to over $ 8 trillion by 2026… that’s trillions, with a ‘t’!
How you set up for next year is thus a vital base from which to grow as this online shopping explosion takes place – to help you identify the key trends that can impact your online sales next year (and years to come), we’ve put together a list of things to pay attention to, as follows:
#1 An Omnichannel Presence
Covid-19 may have shaped the online shopping landscape irrevocably but as the world re-emerges, people have literally spoken with their feet, as they return to brick-and-mortar shops to get that ‘personalised’ experience.
But this has in no way diminished the growth trend of online shopping – rather, the two work hand-in-hand to give shoppers a browse/try/buy pattern.
What do we mean by this?
Brands that had a strong online presence during Covid developed new, loyal audiences on their website and, in particular, on their social media channels.
Now that shoppers are able to engage face-to-face with these brands, that’s exactly what they’re doing – browsing and curating their own collections online, and then going in-store to try and buy.
But rather than keeping the two processes separate, progressive shops with both online and real-world stores are removing friction by providing:
- Flexible returns policies no matter how items were purchased
- Real-time in-store inventory that matches the online store
Using AR and other immersive technologies to bring real-world and digital experiences closer to each other
As an online retailer, it’s therefore essential to consider how your sales channels work together to give customers a seamless, personalised experience for customers no matter how or where they shop.
#2 The Mobile Experience is your main priority
In our article last week we noted how Gen Z is redefining online shopping by moving away from a laptop or desktop-based browsing on established online retail sites to shopping directly from their social media platforms.
Other than that extraordinarily important point (that you need to work hard on speaking to the next generation of big spenders in their own language, and on their terms!) the thing to note here is that your mobile experience must be your number one priority.
Statista recently reported that mobile devices account for 71% of retail traffic, and generate 61% of online orders…numbers that are growing rapidly.
You need to ask yourself:
- Is your website responsive across all devices?
- Does your website work equally well on all browsers?
- Have you checked how your shop items display?
- How easy and seamless is the browse/add/buy process?
- What payment options are there and how seamless is the actual integration and payment process for your customer?
- What support is there and how easy is it for someone to log a return?
Additionally, are you integrating your social media channels into your mobile experience? Consider how you can close the gap between the two – that’s what Gen Z expects, and they’re the generation of spenders for the next 20 years…
#3 Don’t ignore TikTok…
As we mentioned above, Gen Z is driving an entirely new e-commerce trend called social commerce – the act of purchasing directly from a social media platform without being clicked out/away to a traditional online store.
At the top of the list of social commerce platforms are Instagram and TikTok – the latter currently accounts for 48% of online consumer purchases, who are increasingly using the platform not only to browse for items but basing their purchase decisions on influencers.
Read our article at Gen Z and Online Sales A New Paradigm in E-Commerce to get deeper insights on this hot topic!
#4 People are fussy, and you need to accommodate them!
A major (if hard to define) trend that emerged post-Covid is a heightened general sense of expectation around personalised service.
People took stock of their lives en masse during the pandemic, and as a result have generally become a great deal more selective about what they buy, where they buy it and what relationship they want to have with the retailer. This can be challenging – not every person’s shopping experience can be a positive one, after all – but it’s how your support systems behave that determines the outcome in the end.
Shoppers often only want to communicate with retailers online, and it’s thus essential that customer service and support lines are as responsive as possible – a frightening statistic shows that 87% of consumers will leave a brand or shop based on poor customer service – don’t underinvest in this area!
Additionally, shoppers’ heightened awareness is making them far pickier when making the purchase decision – from tightened budgets (and rising inflation) to consideration around where an item comes from, sustainability and a retailer’s stance on issues such as Fair Trade there is a myriad of influences muddying the waters.
As retailers, you have the option to set customers’ minds at ease through implementing and communicating policies such as:
- Flexible buying options
- Source of stock and items
- Transport, storage and packaging sustainability
- Recycling policy
- Stance on various global issues
- Any charity initiatives etc.
#5 Personalisation really matters
It sounds cliché but it truly matters to shoppers that they feel personally looked after. In the real world that was, and still is, easy to achieve simply through good customer service on the floor.
In the digital context, it’s actually just as simple to implement – by harnessing your customers’ data (with consent, of course) you’re able to create ‘buckets’ of people based on purchase habits, browsing habits and more so that you can serve them content and offers that resonate deeply with them.
Additionally, you can serve them content and offers on channels and devices that they prefer, helping to build that close, long-term relationship that benefits everyone.
#6 Build Continuity through Subscription Value
It may not be applicable to all online retailers but if it is something your business is able to offer your customer, then a subscription commerce strategy is an excellent way to build a return customer base, help your customers ‘automate’ their online shopping, reduce friction in lead and delivery times and boost your brand affinity score as your customer base grows.
Examples may include food or grocery deliveries, grooming products, pet products and more.
Other key aspects to note for the coming e-commerce explosion include:
- Multiple secure payment options including mobile wallets, loyalty points and so forth
- Flexible financing on big-ticket items
- Delivery on time, every time, quickly, with transparent tracking
- Integrating Influencers and User Generated Content into your marketing plan – on TikTok, UGC videos are 22% more effective than brand videos…let the Gen Z generation sell for you!
Find out more about setting up and implementing e-commerce websites and strategies that can propel your business into 2023 and beyond! Call us today on 01223 550800 or email email@example.com and chat to our team.