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The ecommerce industry is growing fast. While there’s no way of knowing how 2023 will play out, many ecommerce growth trends are coming into clear view.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns took hold of the world, a growing number of consumers—from the United States to China and everywhere in between—were already turning to online shopping, forcing physical shops to develop online storefronts to engage with their customer base.

Here are 10 ecommerce growth trends to note if you want to position your business for success during challenging times.

Everything is happening rapidly in the ecommerce market. Big-name retailers like Amazon and Walmart continue to push the envelope, while start-ups find it easier than ever to become part of the conversation. 

Below are five ecommerce growth trends—accompanied by statistics—that tell the story of where things are headed in 2023 and beyond.

1. ​​Ecommerce sales will continue to rise

This is the ecommerce growth trend that dictates everything else within the industry.

According to Statista, U.S. retail ecommerce sales are forecasted to reach $1.1 trillion by 2023, continuing its upward trajectory. Ecommerce is thriving thanks to platforms like Shopify, which allows a business owner to set up an online store and start selling without needing to code or learn web design. This makes the barriers to entering the ecommerce market quite low.

Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have also made it easier for products to go viral and for entrepreneurs to sell out even before their official launch days.

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2. Online sales will make up a bigger portion of total retail sales

By 2023, ecommerce will make up 20.8% of global retail sales. In 2026, this figure will hit 24%. 

As online sales continue to rise, physical stores will find it more difficult to keep pace with the convenience and efficiency of online shopping. This is why an increasing number of retailers are allocating more resources to developing a robust online ecommerce strategy that allows them to target not just local customers but potential buyers around the globe.

3. Online retail sales are up across every product category

It’s easy to see that Amazon, Walmart, Target, and other large brands are killing it online. But that shouldn’t cloud the fact that online retail sales are up across the board (for the most part).

This means two things:

  • Niche online brands are winning big: Niche ecommerce brands saw a big uptick in orders during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. These brands can carry the momentum throughout 2023 and beyond. 
  • Other industries are getting in on the action. From furniture to alcohol to cars, companies in every industry are considering what they can do to grab a part of the ecommerce pie. 

In the not-so-distant past, ecommerce businesses focused primarily on core products. Items like clothes, electronics, and household goods were top sellers.

But today, retailers in every space imaginable are establishing themselves as formidable competitors to traditional brick-and-mortar stores. This is one of the biggest reasons for the growth in the global ecommerce market. 

As noted by Forbes, categories with historically low ecommerce sales—such as alcoholic beverages—have the biggest potential for growth as they are in their infancy concerning purchasing online. IWSR predicts that ecommerce alcohol sales will grow as much as 34% in the next few years, which is less than what was previously forecasted but remains a strong growth trajectory. 

Conversely, more popular categories like apparel and electronics don’t have as much room for growth, but the upward movement still has potential.

4. Global ecommerce is booming

Many people think primarily about North America and the Asia Pacific when it comes to ecommerce sales and global retail in general. But that’s not seeing the whole picture.

Global ecommerce is booming everywhere.

eMarketer: Global Retail eCommerce Sales Growth.

As you can see, it’s not just the “usual suspects” leading the charge. 

Retail ecommerce sales were up more than 27 percent at the end of 2020, with this trend continuing through the first half of 2021. 

Latin America, for example, is one of the regions where online retailers are making a dent in the retail industry. 

Developing countries like the Philippines and India are two top driving nations for ecommerce sales growth. Due to mass digital adoption during the pandemic, the Philippines is the fastest-growing market in the South East Asian region now, with over 73 million active users.

5. Social media is a driving force for product discovery and conversions

The major social media platforms—including Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok—have the potential to drive both traffic and sales. And that’s why many ecommerce stores spend a good portion of their advertising and marketing budget on social media.

According to Statista, social commerce is defined as “the utilization of social media platforms to promote, sell, and purchase products and services.”

Adding to this, Statista noted that 43 percent of internet users research products via social networks before making a purchasing decision.

Here are some social media trends to watch for in the months to come:

  • The use of influencer marketing: Despite a looming recession, brands are predicted to spend upwards of $6.16 billion in 2023 on influencer marketing. 
  • Video content now reigns supreme. With Instagram pushing Reels to compete with Tiktok’s rise to fame, being able to develop high-quality short-form video content that feels authentic and less corporate is key. 
  • Big promotions during Black Friday and the holiday season: The holiday season “makes or breaks” many online retailers. From product recommendations to new releases for the holidays, social allows for amplifying these messages for Q4. 
  • Social customer service: Customer service can be the difference between success and failure for physical and online retailers. With 13% of customers saying they tell 15 people about a bad ecommerce experience, it’s critical to provide industry-leading customer service. Doing so via social media gives customers another way to quickly and efficiently contact you with questions, concerns, and feedback.

6. More ways to pay

While credit cards remain a popular form of payment, ecommerce stores are coming to realize that offering more ways to pay increases their customer base.

In addition to credit and debit cards, third-party payment services are picking up steam. In addition to PayPal—the most well-known service—others include Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Venmo, and Payoneer.

Additionally, the crypto craze is changing the way online retailers do business. Some of the biggest global brands are now accepting cryptocurrency as payment.

These brands include but are not limited to Overstock, AT&T, Dallas Mavericks, CheapAir, and ExpressVPN. Collecting crypto payments can also be a great way to reduce expenses for your online store.

In comparison to traditional forms of payment, crypto payments have either no transaction fees or minimal ones.

7. Video & AR gain prevalence

While actively shopping online, you may not realize it, but take a few minutes to think about how many of your favorite brands are using video and AR in the customer journey. 

From on-site videos to social media, brands (big and small) are using this medium to boost engagement, explain or display products or services, and for their audience to share the content with their followers.

Virtual shopping platforms such as Klarna are making it easier for brands of all sizes to enhance the online shopping experience using video. About 61% of companies now say creating video content is a crucial part of their ecommerce marketing strategy.

8. Sustainability continues to be a buzzword

Consumers are more aware of the impact of the products they purchase on the environment. Adding to this, many people are more likely to gravitate toward retailers serious about sustainability.

One survey found that nearly 30 percent of consumers would stop buying clothes from a company if they found out it's not committed to sustainability and related causes. That’s a big number that’s likely to grow in the future. 

There are many ways ecommerce companies are moving toward greater sustainability, such as using biodegradable packaging, reducing the size of the packaging, and using recyclable materials when possible. 

Related: Conducting A Sustainability Storytelling Audit On Your Online Store

9. B2B ecommerce is still big business

When discussing ecommerce, B2C isn’t the only game in town. B2B ecommerce is also growing, with global retail sales expected to increase 17% over the next two years. 

Gone are the days of phone orders and paper forms running the show. Now, B2B brands focus on providing a high-quality, engaging digital experience that makes for long-term customers. With 65% of B2B companies now competing online rather than in person for a customer’s attention, creating a website that can educate and engage customers through various forms of multimedia (video testimonials, case studies, and online quizzes) is key.

The growth rate experienced by many online retailers in 2022 has been astonishing. And we’re looking forward to more of the same in 2023.

Are there any other ecommerce growth trends you’re tracking in 2023? What advice would you share with marketers in this space?

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By Frances Du

Frances Du is a content manager and writer with 10 years of experience in ecommerce and digital marketing, turning customer insights and market trends into actionable content strategies that drive engagement and discussion. Frances' editorial work has been featured in The Ecomm Manager, Village Living Magazine, GOOD Magazine, Traveler's Digest, SHE Canada, The Culture-ist, and The Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto.