With global online retail sales predicted to reach $5.6 trillion in 2023, this is a time to take stock of global ecommerce trends to see how to position your business for success.
The coronavirus pandemic fueled an unprecedented growth rate in the ecommerce industry back in 2020, and the shift towards shopping digitally shows no signs of stopping. In 2023, it is estimated that ecommerce will be responsible for 20.8% of total retail sales worldwide.
Countries like China and the U.S. are taking advantage of e-commerce to grow their businesses, while Japan, Germany, and the UK are growing their presence to tap into ecommerce as a revenue stream.
With a global recession looming, shoppers are unlikely to spend as much next year due to strained budgets. However, ecommerce businesses can still plan and position themselves for success by catering to customer needs and following key global ecommerce trends.
Only ecommerce sites that are agile and canny enough to capitalize on the latest global ecommerce trends can hope to survive and prosper in the coming years.
Here are six hot global ecommerce trends that will shape the online landscape in 2023:
- The dominance of large marketplaces
- The importance of personalized experiences
- Smoother online shopping experiences
- The importance of social media marketing
- The ever-increasing focus on sustainability
- Using AI chatbots as virtual assistants
1. The Dominance Of Large Marketplaces
One of the biggest success stories of 2020 was the unfettered rise of Amazon during the pandemic. While traditional retail brands and physical stores flirted with bankruptcy and relied on government loans to stay afloat, the online retail giant continued its awe-inspiring growth trajectory across the globe.
At least 50% of online shoppers from major markets like North America and Europe prefer using Amazon for their product searches. But if you go by the volume of merchandise sold, China is home to the biggest online marketplaces: JD.com, Tmall, and Taobao.
Despite all their apparent flaws, ecommerce platforms like Amazon offer one compelling feature: convenience for their customers.
Businesses, particularly smaller ones looking to maintain a viable online presence, face an uphill task when competing with the likes of ecommerce giants like Amazon and Walmart.
How to take advantage
Unless you have millions of dollars to spend on digital marketing and store promotion, you cannot afford to miss out on the traffic going to platforms like Amazon. The key here is not to rely exclusively on such marketplaces—grow your website/store in parallel.
Sites like Amazon are great for building brand awareness, getting customer feedback for your product, and online sales. But don’t forget to also nurture your ecommerce brand site. Ask visitors to sign up for your website’s newsletter or follow your social accounts, so they feel like a part of your community. Data ownership will allow you to scale and predict your customer’s buying habits more effectively. It will also allow you to create data-driven personalized experiences.
2. The Importance of Personalized Experiences
Beyond pricing, modern online customers are looking for "shopping experiences" based on their unique needs. There are many ways to deliver this in 2023, and they all revolve around customer data and an independent platform.
With uniform, standardized store pages, marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart tend to lag behind in this aspect. These days, buyers need a more “human” touch—for instance, smart product suggestions based on buying history that indicate a one-to-one relationship between the brand and the buyer.
This kind of special treatment has a genuine impact on business. A Forbes Insights report revealed that around 77% of executives reported a positive impact on sales thanks to increased personalization. Around 58% of companies use personalization strategies to help with customer retention.
This kind of special treatment has a genuine impact on business. Most e-retailers experienced increased sales of up to 20% with such tactics. It will be even more important in 2023—there are record numbers of new online buyers—up to 10% more than in previous years. Personalization will play a crucial role in converting them into loyal customers.
How to take advantage
Maintaining an online store with an up-to-date CRM database of customer data is the first step. Leverage that data with artificial intelligence to create personalized suggestions, recommendations, and reminders for customers to restock their favorite items. Reach out to them by email, phone, or social media to send these recommendations.
Add special features like interactive store pages and advanced customization options (if possible) to certain products—buyers like to feel more involved in ordering something. If possible, provide a 3D product view or augmented reality functionality for an enhanced customer experience.
3. Smoother Online Shopping Experiences
Many online consumers still relied on offline channels for groceries, apparel, medicines, and home improvement products to a great extent. But the COVID-19 lockdowns forced a drastic change in consumer patterns.
Customers had to rely on the internet to buy almost everything: groceries, apparel, electronics, healthcare, hygiene products, gym equipment, furniture and home improvement, auto parts, and more.
At the same time, consumers are also less patient than ever before. Maybe due to the stress of staying at home, online shoppers demand faster checkouts, free shipping options, and smoother online shopping experiences.
And these new shopping habits are not expected to change drastically once the offline market gathers speed post-pandemic. Ecommerce is all about convenience—surveys indicate that more than 60% of respondents plan to stick with online brands they discovered during their pandemic online purchases. This is a great opportunity to build brand loyalty with customers and turn them into long-term buyers.
How to take advantage
Optimizing the online shopping experience is crucial: The faster your checkout experience is, the better your customer retention figures will be. Add features like one-tap payments, buy now pay later options, and install payment services in partnership with popular payment providers like Stripe or PayPal. Create omnichannel platforms that allow buyers to use any device—such as a PC, mobile device, or smart speakers—to make online purchases.
4. The Importance Of Social Media Marketing
TikTok, Instagram, Whatsapp, Telegram, and Facebook—the list of popular social media platforms is quite long. And many of these are leaning heavily into social ecommerce. Emarketers are following suit, augmenting their social media toolkits.
Meta (formerly Facebook) is pivoting heavily in favor of small businesses on its major platforms using the newly launched Shops feature. Not to be left behind, TikTok has partnered with ecommerce giant Shopify to provide its users with easy access to online shopping. They have launched TikTok Shops to help businesses and influencers sell on the platform directly.
This feature is now available for businesses in the U.S. and other select countries who are hoping to grow their presence on the video-sharing app. This shopping feature is expected to roll out worldwide in the near future.
Livestream shopping is a very popular format in China that is also gaining traction in the West. Both Amazon and YouTube are testing this feature, while big fashion brands like Levi’s and Tommy Hilfiger are already using influencers and celebrities to create hype about their latest collections.
The online sales numbers back up these moves as well. Over 70% of online buyers reported finding useful products through social media ads. And at least 30% of U.S. buyers have reported making their purchases directly on social media, according to Statista.
How to take advantage
Use features like TikTok Shops to create your storefront on popular social media platforms. Create compelling ads, particularly in the short video format, to attract your Gen-Z customers on platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube to drive future ecommerce sales growth.
5. The Ever-Increasing Focus on Sustainability
The new generation of consumers tends to favor ecommerce businesses and brands committed to sustainable and ethical practices. Respecting this customer sentiment, most online retailers have made efforts to minimize their negative impact on environments and vulnerable communities around the globe.
This trend has been steadily accelerating over the last decade or so. And with the worsening climate crisis, it is not going anywhere soon either.
How to take advantage
Conduct a sustainability audit of your business, especially if it has offline segments. And if you are exclusively selling online, take a long hard look at the products you sell—do they use ethical and sustainable supply chains? Are the manufacturing processes eco-friendly? Communicate your sustainability efforts to your audience online on your store, website, and social media.
Rebundle does a fantastic job of promoting its hair extensions as plant-based and sustainable for the environment. Unlike synthetic hair extensions, their ReGen Hair Fiber is made of naturally extracted banana fiber that is also microbiome friendly to avoid causing scalp irritation or skin issues.
6. Using AI Chatbots as Virtual Assistants
Disruptive technology like AI chatbots is taking the world by storm. With the arrival of tools like ChatGPT, users can now converse with artificial intelligence bots by asking questions or issuing commands that deliver exceptional results.
ChatGPT can help users fix a line of code or write a poem, leaving users in awe of its capabilities. Since its launch, ChatGPT has been downloaded by over a million users in less than a week. As more users start to use the platform, who knows how sophisticated the system can become?
How to take advantage
For business owners and entrepreneurs, using AI chatbots as virtual assistants can help them with many tasks, freeing up their time to tend to other areas of the business. Tasks like generating social media plans, creating a 12-month content strategy, and even helping with creating a marketing budget template specific to their needs can all be done through AI.
Get Ahead of Global Ecommerce Trends Today
The business world is still trying to come to terms with the scale of disruption caused by the global coronavirus pandemic and the looming recession.
But while there may be roadblocks in the online market in 2023, many of the global ecommerce trends mentioned above are here for the long haul. If you are involved in ecommerce, you simply cannot afford to ignore them any longer.
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