Most retailers are now multichannel, where they sell their products across more than one channel. Very few, however, are truly omnichannel. Discover what it means to be considered an omnichannel business.
After two-plus years of astronomical growth, what are the 2023 e-commerce trends that online retailers can expect?
While shoppers are returning to brick and mortar, their e-commerce habits are set. Experts predict worldwide retail e-commerce sales will soar from about 5 trillion US dollars to just over 8 trillion dollars by 2026.
To capitalize on this growth, online retailers will need to double down on many of the trends that took off during the pandemic while keeping an eye on changing consumer expectations and preferences.
Enterprise, meet your customer.
Interactions, data, front and back office – connected.
It starts here.
E-commerce trends 2023: Top 15 must-haves for online selling
So, what does it take to deliver stellar e-commerce in 2023?
From a shift to in-store shopping to financial fears, what are 2023 e-commerce trends?
- Mobile shopping
- Social commerce
- Customer service
- Inflation issue
- Subscription commerce
- Payment options
- New consumers enter market spaces
- Augmented reality, AI, Metaverse
- UGC: User-generated content
1. As shopping returns to IRL, 2023 is the time when brands must optimize omnichannel
After two years of predominately online shopping, consumers are ready for in-store experiences. With loosened COVID restrictions and the desire for in-person interactions, brick-and-mortar stores are on the rebound.
“Online sales still make up a greater portion of retail sales than they did prior to the pandemic. But they have steadily declined from their peak in the spring of 2020,” says Nathaniel Meyersohn of CNN Business.
While the e-commerce boom may be slowing, customers’ expectations remain high.
Nearly 75% of buyers use multiple channels before purchasing, and 73% of e-commerce consumers report using various channels during their customer journey.Shopping journeys don’t end – or often start – on a company or brand website. Loyal customers will follow your social media pages, engage with your brand, act as brand advocates (or detractors – eek), and they’ll also compare prices across different brands and platforms.
Meaning: don’t overlook your online experiences. Instead, look to design and deliver fluid omnichannel shopping experiences. Brands with both digital and physical locations should work to eliminate friction since shoppers channel and platform-surf.
Details baked into 2023 ecommerce trends when it comes to omnichannel include:
- Providing flexible fulfillment and return options (more on those later)
- Enable in-store associates to access customer account details to provide better service
- Ensure in-store inventory is reflected in real-time online
- Invest in AR and other immersive technologies to create a more natural shopping experience online
For some companies, shoppers may have different expectations online vs. in-store. Learn how your customers like to shop with you, and optimize the experience to best meet their needs.
Brands that deliver effective, omnichannel shopping experiences will continue to thrive in 2023.
2. Can you hear me now? Of course not, we don’t talk on phones anymore: Mobile will be a massive driver of sales for e-commerce in 2023
Ever noticed that as our devices get smaller, our expectations of them get bigger? These days, we spend a record amount of time online, and a lot of that is spent shopping. But online no longer means “at a computer.” (I can feel Gen Z collectively rolling their eyes as I type this.)
It’s now normal for consumers – even Generation Alpha – to have mobile phones within their reach at all times – and to use them to navigate far more than texting and phone calls.
Enabling customers to shop via their mobile devices is no longer an exception—it’s an expectation.
Mobile devices account for 71% of retail traffic, and generate 61% of online shopping orders, according to Statista.Consumers pick m-commerce again and again as their preferred channel for shopping. By 2024, global retail m-commerce sales are expected to reach nearly $4.5 trillion, and make up 69.9% of total retail e-commerce sales.
Brands that want to stay in the game need to embrace this mobile mentality. That means designing mobile-first experiences (not just shrinking your desktop experience to a smaller screen). It also means offering phone-friendly payment options (like Apple Pay and Google Pay), and making mobile checkout a breeze.
Actually talking on the phone...not so much. But consumers are choosing mobile commerce for more than half of their e-commerce purchases today - and that number only looks to get bigger. See the trends behind the rise of m-commerce.
3. Social commerce plays a massive role in 2023 e-commerce trends
More and more brands are using social commerce to meet – and sell to – customers where they are.
Consumers rely tremendously on their social feeds for shopping, suggestions, and simple e-commerce sales. According to one report, 48% of consumers are now likely to purchase directly from TikTok.
Gen Z in particular uses TikTok for search and product recommendations – more than Google.
Global sales via social media platforms were estimated at 992 billion U.S. dollars in 2022, and forecasts suggest that social commerce sales will reach around 2.9 trillion U.S. dollars by 2026.
Whether or not you decide to sell directly through social, don’t skip these channels in your e-commerce strategy.
Social commerce is critical for brands to reach their target audiences, and is expected to generate $30.73 billion in sales in 2023, accounting for 20% of global retail e-commerce sales.
Click into the future of commerce: Shoppable Instagram can help direct-to-consumer brands build deeper connections with customers and rev sales.
4. Customer service: A linchpin for brands and e-commerce in 2023
Since customer service is often a buyer’s only point of contact with an online business, retailers need to make it a priority.
When customers have a question about choosing a size, tracking a shipment or requesting a refund, they want help – quickly. That means making it easy for them to find help on their preferred channel, whether that’s phone, social media, or live chat.
87% of consumers spend less or completely leave brands that don’t provide great customer service.
Chatbot technology is advancing fast, and some experts see them playing even bigger roles in the online shopping experience with more personalized service and product recommendations.
E-commerce never sleeps, so make sure your customer service is available 24/7.
Fed up with brands reducing customer service to cut costs, consumers are revolting – see the infographic.
5. Inflation and tight budgets impact online spending
The impact of inflation on consumer spending will likely last into 2023. Budgets are tight and shoppers are mindful about their purchases.
Your two best tools for assuaging their anxieties?
Flexible returns and budget-friendly options.
Think a flexible return policy is bad for business? Think again. Yes, returns can be costly, but shoppers will return products regardless of whether you make it easy. A strict or complicated process won’t stop them from returning their products, it will stop them from returning to you.
67% of shoppers check the return policy before buying online – meaning a bad policy may keep them from buying at all.On the other hand, 92% of consumers will purchase from a brand again if the return process was easy.
When financial anxiety is high, shoppers need extra assurance.
Another way to keep bottom lines stable amid financial insecurity is to offer budget-conscious options. Basic subscription packages (such as streaming services with ads) allow customers to continue engaging when they otherwise may have stopped completely. It also builds good-will that will build long-term loyalty.
Rising food prices increases anxiety on many levels. What happens when people can’t afford food? What if food takes up more of the average consumer’s budget, leaving little for other items? How will all this impact grocery retailers, who we rely on so much today?
6. Sustainability sustains business
52% of consumers say the pandemic made them value sustainability more.
Sites, like Thrive, that offer more eco-conscious shopping experiences (from their products to their fulfillment practices) are gaining popularity, making a circularity strategy mission-critical to businesses who want to succeed. What does that mean for e-commerce in 2023?
Expect to see more brands embracing their greener sides. For example:
- Selling products made with more sustainable materials
- Investing in more environmentally-friendly packaging materials
- Allowing users to choose more sustainable shipping options (e.g., “Ship all items together in one package, rather than sending them as they become available”)
- Making it easy for people to recycle items or shop pre-owned items directly from your site
7. Re-commerce takes a spin on the 2023 e-commerce trends catwalk
By 2025, the fashion and apparel industry is predicted to exceed $1 trillion.
The fashion and apparel industry includes:
- Purses + bags
- Accessories, like jewelry
As sustainability becomes a critical element when it comes to deciding to purchase from a brand – and more affordable shopping options are being sought – recommerce will play a much bigger role when it comes to 2023 ecommerce trends.
65% of all shoppers use some resale or recommerce service.
The pioneers of the recommerce movement were companies re-selling branded products (ThredUp, Poshmark, ebay, etc.), but it’s definitely not just for third-party retailers anymore.
Big brands like Patagonia, Levi’s, and REI are focusing on sustainability and recommerce efforts. After all, future generations want to make purpose-driven purchases, and having a world left to live in is a big motivating factor for them.
Recommerce is booming as sustainability and affordability become consumer priorities. Learn the benefits for brands and get tips for resale success.
8. Personalization becomes a deciding factor for brand loyalty
Most consumers crave a brand that knows them well enough to offer up personalized shopping experiences – so much so that a majority of people will pay more to businesses that offer personal touches that appeal to them.
60% of consumers say they’ll become repeat customers after a personalized shopping experience.
When e-commerce sellers leverage the data that customers happily share for a more personalized experience, customer engagement, loyalty, and bottom lines grow exponentially.
If you don’t personalize content to your customers across all channels, you’re going to lose them to the brands that invest in getting to know their customers. This means engaging them on the channels they prefer, and supporting them throughout their entire customer journey with personalized offers.
Customer-obsession delivers big business results. Read the data and stats to learn how to up your personalization game.
9. Subscription commerce: Driving retention and revenue
Winning new customers can be expensive and require a lot of time – the goal of any business is to have customer relationships that stand the test of time. 2023 ecommerce trends point toward subscription commerce becoming an even more important type of e-commerce. Digital sellers and online marketplaces are driving retention and revenue with subscription models.
Almost 35% of weekly online shoppers use subscriptions.
With the right business and fulfillment models baked into a subscription commerce strategy, those figures are sure to grow.
After all, customers will continue to expect simplicity and convenience when shopping – have a product or service that’s your favorite, and that you use regularly? Subscription commerce eliminates manual ordering and delivery, making your purchases seamless and there when you need them.
10. BOPIS: Flexible fulfillment is all the rage when it comes to 2023 ecommerce trends
Buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) became very popular during COVID-19 lockdowns, and shoppers aren’t ready to give it up as societies re-open.
BOPIS provides consumers the ability to purchase online and schedule the pick up of their items at a physical store location.
Globally, BOPIS is predicted to be a $703 billion market by 2027.
Flexible fulfillment is far from new – big retailers like Target have invested heavily in that aspect of fulfillment and customer experience for over seven years, using ship-to-store, ship-from-store, and BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) options.
BOPIS makes fulfillment convenient to customers, helping to increase loyalty, and thereby sales – expect it to increase in importance in 2023 as consumers search for ways to continue buying the products they love when budgets are tight.
Flexible fulfillment is a requirement for retailers today. Ship-to-store, ship-from-store, and BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) options rule the retail experience.
11. Payment options are a game-changer or game-killer for e-commerce in 2023
One of the biggest reasons for shopping cart abandonment is a difficult payment or check-out process. If it’s not simple for a customer to complete their digital purchase, they’ve no qualms about leaving items in the cart and finding an online seller who makes buying easy.
According to Statista, digital and mobile wallets accounted for about half of worldwide e-commerce payment transactions, making digital wallets the most popular online payment method – by far.
PayPal is the top online payment gateway, with a whopping 60% of the market share.
PayPal has over 426 million active users, allowing for simplified purchases across many currencies.
Top payment options when it comes to 2023 ecommerce trends:
- Mobile wallets continue to revolutionize point of sale payments. In 2020, over one billion shoppers made a digital or mobile wallet payment.
- As younger generations enter the marketplace, they want different payment options. For example, retailers are using direct selling via social media to keep up with their preferences and bring them back for more.
- Flexible financing options make it easier to purchase and afford the goods that consumers crave.
Has the cashless society arrived? The pandemic sped adoption of mobile and digital wallets, putting pressure on retailers to provide digital payment options.
12. Generation Alpha and Gen Z: The next generation of shoppers enter the marketplace
In 2023, there will be more consumers entering the e-commerce buying landscape, and they aren’t your grandfather’s generation – to say the least.
When it comes to spending power, younger generations plan on doing the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping retailers in business, with 32% of Gen Z stating they’ll spend more over the 2022 holiday season — a big contract to the 46% of consumers who plan to tighten up their belts when it comes to spending.
Retailers need to adapt for these powerhouse generations and their buying preferences.
The Youth have unprecedented digital savviness thanks to COVID-19, when schools around the globe were shuttered, and they expect brands to be just as smart as them when it comes to buying goods or services on the internet.
- 55% of Gen Zers use smartphones more than five hours each day, and 26% are on their phones 10+ hours daily
- More than 40% of Gen Z would rather lose their wallets than their smartphones
- Almost two out of three children ages 8 to 11 have access to a smartphone
97% of Gen Zers use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration.
Connected shopping experiences – repeating again: omnichannel is a MUST-HAVE – are expected for these generations. They won’t consider purchasing without first researching, and their research isn’t done in the same way as the generations before them.
Social commerce and apps like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Spotify, and Twitter offer authentic and trusted suggestions from influencers, as well as buying options that make it easy to purchase.
(If you think these whippersnappers aren’t going to change the world of business, perhaps you should know that Google isn’t their search engine of choice: TikTok holds that honor now.)
These generations aren’t the most patient among us, so if they can’t get what they want quickly and easily, they’ll give their business to e-tailers that can deliver.
Dubbed “mini-millennials," Generation Alpha is already turning heads. Here's what brands need to know about this up-and-coming generation.
13. Augmented reality, AI, Metaverse
For quite some time, video and augmented reality have played a pivotal role in e-commerce.
Demo videos allow potential customers to better understand your products, while AR gives consumers the ability to visualize the products in 3D. Then… there’s the Metaverse, where physical, augmented, and virtual reality meld, creating a computer-generated environment where users can interact, purchase items, game, and have experiences like they would in the real world.
Shoppers engage with 3D images of products nearly 50% more than static ones.
Right now, retail metaverse use cases are mostly experimental, but brands are clamoring to get to the next frontier of commerce. E-marketer identified fashion, beauty, and home goods as the top three retail categories with high potential in the metaverse.
Learn about the emerging metaverse, what it means for retailers, the benefits, and how brands are jumping into this new virtual world.
14. Delivery: Keep your fulfillment promises
On-time delivery is now an absolute priority for e-commerce sellers. The days of packing a product and sending it on its way, trusting that it’ll arrive at its destination in a week or two are long gone.
In a world where instant gratification reigns, delivery is no exception. Amazon set the gold standard for delivery when it began offering next-day and same-day deliveries.
93% of customers say order transparency is very important to their overall customer experience.
Customers want to know if their order has been processed, where it’s at each step of the way, and when it’ll arrive – that’s why speed, communication, and personalization are all key factors in meeting delivery expectations of modern consumers.
If a product arrives late or broken, the consumer blames your brand. Order fulfillment strategies help keep ALL of your brand promises – including delivery.
The retail landscape has completely transformed in the past couple years, putting order fulfillment to the test. Here's what you need to know about fulfillment, post-pandemic.
Supply chain challenges can make for a wild ride. Get advice, best practices, + predictions from top experts HERE.
15. Getting down with UGC
User-generated content (UGC) is content about a brand that’s created by its users, rather than the brand itself. It’s a potent content marketing technique, particularly with the recent surge in virtual shopping.
On TikTok, UGC videos are 22% more effective than brand videos.
Trust matters. And when it comes to trust in e-commerce, consumers have more faith in organic user content more than branded content. So user-generated content (UGC) like customer photos, videos, and reviews offer fantastic social proof and build credibility for brands looking to sell online.
UGC can assist brands in earning trust, while driving real engagement. Since those are two key elements of e-commerce today, it’s no wonder that UGC has made a debut on the 2023 ecommerce trends list.
User-generated content can be gold for marketing. Find out how brands can leverage the hot social media platform to engage buyers.
Customer experience is an always-on 2023 e-commerce trend
As you build your e-commerce strategy for 2023, remember: customer-centric experience is one trend that never fails. When in doubt, ask yourself, “What would my customer want?” And you’ll stand the test of time.
Retail doesn’t rest.
A recent survey of digital execs shows where e-commerce is going.
Get the stats + data HERE.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs):
The future of e-commerce is rapidly changing as we look ahead to 2023 and beyond; following are the trends industry experts believe will shape the future of e-commerce:
- Augmented reality, AI, Metaverse
- Social commerce
- Subscription commerce
- Using data to personalize and individualize shopping experiences
- BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup in Store)
- Chatbots to improve shopping experiences
- Multiple payment options
- API-driven Headless commerce
- Business to Consumer (B2C): Business to consumer means that the sale is taking place between a business and a consumer.
- Business to Business (B2B): B2B e-commerce refers to a business selling a good or service to another business.
- Direct to Consumer (D2C): Direct to consumer means that a brand is selling directly to their end customer without going through a retailer, distributor, or wholesaler.
- Consumer to Consumer (C2C): C2C e-commerce refers to the transactions of goods and services between individuals.
- Consumer to Business (C2B): Consumer to business is when an individual sells their services or products to a business organization.
- Business to Government (B2G): also known as business-to-administration (B2A), refers to when the sale of goods and services take place between the business sector as a supplier and a government entity as a customer.
- Consumer to Government (C2G): also known as consumer-to-administration (C2A), enables the consumers to provide feedback or request information regarding public sectors directly to the government administration or authorities.
Yes, e-commerce has been growing rapidly in recent years. Consumer shopping behavior has shifted to buying goods and services online post- COVID-19 pandemic. Rapid proliferation of mobile phones and smart devices over the last decade, and the introduction of high-speed 5G network has further accelerated the growth for e-commerce. E-commerce is expected to grow even more resulting from advancements in embedded and digital payments, and the fast adoption of Web3 and decentralized cross-border commerce, and metaverse platforms.
The fastest growing e-commerce segment may change over time as consumer behavior and market trends evolve. However, some of the fastest growing areas in e-commerce include:
- Mobile commerce: With the increasing use of smartphones, more and more people are shopping online using their mobile devices.
- Social commerce: The integration of social media and e-commerce is creating new opportunities for businesses to reach and engage with customers.
- Food delivery and grocery delivery: The demand for food and grocery delivery services has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to continue to grow in the future.
- Healthcare services and wellness products: The health and wellness industry has seen significant growth in recent years, and e-commerce has made it easier for consumers to access these products and services online.
- High-end luxury goods: The luxury goods market is also experiencing growth in e-commerce, as more and more consumers are using online platforms to buy high-end products.