A breakdown of global e-commerce trends and statistics to future-proof your business.
A lot can happen in a year — or so the saying goes.
A new major conflict, renewed coronavirus lockdowns in Asia, a continuing shortage of semiconductors that have blighted the global electronics and automotive industries, and of course, inflation, higher interest rates, and the looming threat of economic turmoil. It’s safe to say that 2022 was no exception.
With 2023 already heating up to be another tumultuous year, we’re here to help you take on what’s next as consumers continue to change how and where they spend their time online, and economic pressures change how they spend their money.
Global e-commerce is borderless trade. It’s cross-border commerce. It’s international retail. It’s many different things all at the same time, much of which was unimaginable just ten-or-so years ago. It’s also impacted by many different things: regional economic pressures, geopolitics, new regulations, and consumer behaviour — there are endless factors at play.
That’s why staying ahead of the latest e-commerce trends is critical. If you can understand the present day’s major trends, you can pierce the veil of what’s driving growth and development in the e-commerce space and use this information to inform your strategy.
To help you get an idea of what might come this year, we’ve compiled our list of the 10 biggest global e-commerce trends.
The global pandemic led to a 50% increase in omnichannel shopping in 2020, according to data published by Nielsen, which also showed that the percentage of U.S. consumers surveyed who shopped “heavily or exclusively” online grew by 133% between September 2019 and September 2020.
These figures are hardly surprising given that we were all stuck at home. However, this omnichannel growth continued throughout 2021 and 2022 and will probably continue growing this year. Nearly 90% of consumers now expect brands to offer omnichannel experiences across their preferred online and in-store channels and touchpoints. Indeed, companies with robust omnichannel strategies retain almost 89% of their customers.
One of the most effective ways to drive e-commerce sales in the evolving online market is through immersive visual content. Leading retailers recognise this, and when selling online, product imagery is one of the most effective tools in their belt.
This is reflected by online shoppers, who consider product imagery and other visual elements to be a driving factor behind their buying decisions — one that’s just as important, or even more important, than price, reviews, and product descriptions. For instance, 90% of Etsy users say product imagery directly influences their purchasing decisions.
Consumers are demanding personalisation by default. According to McKinsey, up to 71% of consumers have this expectation, and more than three-quarters become frustrated when it doesn’t happen. Personalisation also drives better performance and customer outcomes, with those that grow the fastest driving 40% more of their revenue from personalisation than their slower-growing competitors.
Personalisation means curating a shopping experience for a single customer rather than a broader audience. Instead of adopting a universal approach, e-commerce vendors are increasingly looking to build bespoke elements for their customer journeys: web content, emails, social media, advertising, customer service, mobile apps, live chat — you name it.
More than half of consumers globally now believe it’s more important to shop with local businesses than before the pandemic. People now consider who’s being paid when they buy an item and that by ensuring that money goes to smaller businesses, they can help to support their communities — a noble desire instilled in many who saw the destructive impact the pandemic had on independent SMEs.
The driving factors behind this increased consumer desire to shop small and locally are clear. A survey of more than 4,500 consumers across the UK, U.S., Australia, and Brazil found it was reinvesting in local economies (45%), ensuring that money remains in the community (44%), and driving local job growth (43%).
“Sustainability” is more than just a buzzword. Many fail to understand its place in our modern world. Recent data suggests that consumers are increasingly adopting a variety of measures to live and shop more sustainably. They consider environmental issues when making purchases and go out of their way to transact with sustainable businesses.
The vast changes seen in consumer buying behaviour illustrate the growing influence of sustainability and how it has quickly gone from something that wins brownie points to a high-stakes must-have for all businesses.
Global social commerce sales reached $ 492 billion in 2021, a number expected to nearly triple by 2025 to $ 1.2 trillion. Social media platforms are creating more opportunities for brands to drive sales directly. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest make it easy for businesses to get their products and services in front of engaged audiences and capitalise on their shopping impulses.
British luxury retailer Barbour, for example, saw an increase in sales from Instagram of 42% and traffic to its website from Instagram of 98% since it began using Instagram Shopping — and there’s no shortage of brands reporting robust figures.
The truth is clear. Social media is more than the sum of its social interactions — it’s the economic arm of successful modern businesses where brands engage with their customers and turn even the slightest bit of passive interest into a purchase.
Mobile shopping is quickly becoming the preferred channel for most consumers. In 2021, mobile e-commerce sales exceeded US$ 359 billion, representing a 15.2% increase over figures from 2020. The 2022 figures will likely increase too, and by 2025, mobile commerce sales will have more than doubled to account for more than 44.2 of U.S. e-commerce sales.
The driving force behind the rise of mobile shopping is… well, mobile phones. There will be just short of 300 million active mobile internet users in the United States by 2024, with over 180 million expected to use it for shopping. An unmissable business opportunity.
Getting the consumer’s attention is half of the battle to secure e-commerce sales. One of the best ways to do this is through video. Not only does the video grab attention but the video’s interaction with movement, sound, and text. And because you can pack a lot of information into a smaller package using video, it has been said that just one minute’s worth of video content can be worth as much as 1.8 million words.
It’s not just marketing professionals saying this. B2B buyers also prefer video content over written content, with more than 90% saying that video is important in their purchasing decisions.
Personalising the customer’s online shopping experience, as we touched on earlier, is crucial for ensuring e-commerce success in 2023. Machine learning is one way this can be achieved, through strategies like optimised search, tailored recommendations based on thousands of data points, and more.
As the adoption of ML in e-commerce continues, expect to see the emergence of more efficient data labelling to train more powerful ML applications. This will better serve e-commerce customers through enhanced search quality and more accurate recommendations.
The year 2022 left many of us feeling that things can’t get any worse… right? Unfortunately, with how unsettled things are right now and with inflation at a 40-year high, tough times are waiting ahead, with the potential for a significant economic downturn in the coming months.
The landscape in 2023 is a lot different from 2008, though. Back then, Shopify was just two years old, and e-commerce was in its fledgling stage. Fast forward 15 years and e-commerce is continuously hitting record highs for everything. There’s an opportunity for canny e-commerce operators to weather the coming storm and emerge the better for it.
Yes, budgets are going to tighten, and a lot of people will have a lot less disposable income, but that doesn’t mean your sales will dry up. It just means that consumers will be choosier about where they spend their money. To that extent, e-commerce operators should be focusing more on retention and building customer lifetime value.
Don’t get left behind
Paying attention to these and other trends can help e-commerce operators grow their bottom lines and safeguard them during times of uncertainty and economic downturn. This will be especially important this year as the e-commerce space will become more competitive and some consumers will undoubtedly have less money to spend.
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