Keeping up with trends is the reality show of the e-commerce world, which is constantly developing, gaining a significant market share, and driving online sales. It becomes even more interesting in the world of emerging technologies and the IoT.
Trendwatching is one of the most effective ways to have a competitive advantage over rivals and become a leader in the industry. Let’s hack the system of trends together to be rising stars on the verge of 2023.
What E-Commerce Trends were in 2022, and which ones will Hang Around for 2023?
The year 2022 did not vanish without leaving a mark on e-commerce. In contrast, it left several e-trends: augmented reality, zero coding, the marketplace boom, and product subscriptions are just a few of them. So let’s reveal the e-commerce trends of 2022 and predict the trends for 2023, or, as we may say, crack the Da Vinci code.
M-Commerce Together with Voice Commerce
Speaking of easing consumers’ lives, mobile commerce, also known as “m-commerce,” was a hit. The story behind its substantial growth in the market is simple: people love to shop in the most convenient way possible, and a smartphone is a perfect way to do it. According to the Adjust and Sensor Tower report, in 2021, m-commerce accumulated 54% of all e-commerce sales worldwide, whose market exceeds $3.5 trillion.
In 2023, mobile commerce will remain in demand and grow even further. Only in 2021, 72.9% of purchases were made via mobile devices in the United States, as Statista reported. So, don’t miss out on the m-commerce trend and optimize your e-shop for the mobile version ASAP.
Customers will be even more comfortable with the introduction of voice commerce, another unicorn of the online shopping experience. With the help of voice assistants, such as Siri and Alexa, you can purchase the product just by saying it while running errands. Recently, Statista revealed that most Americans have voice assistants at home, about 60%. This fact makes voice commerce stand out and grow on the market in 2023.
Another leader in making consumers’ lives more enjoyable is the marketplace boom. People can access their favorite brands in one place, at the marketplace that has it all. In fact, the small brand is likely to become a rising industry star due to the established trust, convenient delivery times, and various payment options available in the marketplace.
This correlates with the fact that online sales will increase dramatically. In 2023, online sales will continue to grow, thanks to no-border shopping, a convenient shopping experience, and the digitalization of society. By 2026, online sales are expected to reach $8 trillion, according to Statista.
Subscriptions, but on Products
Some businesses introduced subscriptions for their products. People can plan purchases and save money: “Subscribe and save 15%. We will deliver product x every three months with free shipping.” To boost clients’ moods, some companies include testers of upcoming products.
Subscriptions will remain attractive to consumers who love planning and saving money. Kearney, for instance, found out that more than a third of US, France, and Germany weekly buyers have already signed up for subscriptions, whereas 12% are still debating this service.
Last Mile & Next-Day Delivery
Last-mile delivery, the last leg of the parcel movement from the transportation hub to the final destination, will also be in high demand in 2023. You always need to optimize your route and logistics for storing goods. Amazon has been at it for years. Last-mile delivery will also help you speed up delivery because next-day delivery is a hot trend today too.
Sustainability is the Queen
In 2023, customers have become even more environmentally conscious, as recent statistics prove. For instance, the research conducted by The Economist revealed that searches for environmental goods have grown by 70% since 2016. On top of that, Statista reported that 50% of shoppers in the US and UK would like to see brands use less packaging, and almost 90% would delay delivery to save the planet.
Automation, Chatbots, AR, and AI Reign: the Future is Already Here
Automation makes business operations flow smoothly without encountering technical difficulties. It also improves employees’ productivity by allowing them to focus on vital business operations. Chatbots can answer questions and accept payments while your employees establish partnerships. Approximately 50% of people engage more with 3D images of products than static pictures, Retail Brew noticed.
As for AI, businesses could optimize the processes of various departments, whether inventory, marketing, or customer relations. These new technologies will become an integral part of most e-shops. In 2023, customers will have high expectations, and the availability of customer support robots will only improve their shopping experience.
As for Metaverse — businesses should keep an eye on it as it is not clear yet whether this is hype or a trend.
TikTok and Influencers
One viral video on TikTok can reach 1.5 million people and generate monthly revenue. The video content will remain effective for another couple of years: from DIY to answering the most common questions to reviewing the products.
In the meantime, influencers can increase brand awareness for your business by publishing a review of your product on social media. People love reviews, and everyone reads them before making a purchase. Honest reviews from opinion leaders build brand awareness, even for small brands.
Omnichannel: Diversity and Inclusion
Every successful organization uses multiple channels to communicate with potential customers and advertise its products. Search engine optimization, paid search, social media channels, online stores, and even pop-up spots are examples of practical omnichannel usage.
Another trend born in the omnichannel framework is the customer data platform (CDM). It outperformed our beloved CRM and introduced some advanced functions, including creating the consumer’s journey, from the point they fell for the product to the moment of a successful purchase.
The omnichannel strategy will continue to be popular this year. Catch your customers with all the means you can utilize: social media, paid search, targeted ads, marketplace, and other dark magic practices.
Omnichannel also means different payment methods. Consider everything: cash, credit cards, PayPal, Stripe, Klarna, cryptocurrency, and the recently introduced “buy now, pay later” function for skeptical friends. The more payment options you have, the more attractive it is for the client to make the first purchase.
Personalization: Unbeatable Deals but with Privacy in Mind
Thanks to the latest technology and e-shop analytics, businesses can create the perfect consumer profile and offer discounts based on purchase history and behavior. In most cases, such transactions make sense, given the love and care we all require at the end of a long workday.
In 2023, personalization will remain a critical aspect of e-commerce trends, whether you are B2B or B2C. Customized deals, product recommendations, free guides, targeted video content, and even customized packaging (as 70% of Americans admit that the package design impacts their purchase behavior, reported by Ipsos dot com; e-commerce trends) — all of these trends are key to winning the hearts of your customers one more time by improving their shopping experience and expanding your product line.
In pursuing personalization, companies, and brands should not forget about the sensitive issue of data protection, which will likely be a trend in 2023 and beyond. While customer experience is the key to success, do not overuse it, especially regarding personal information.
The trend of social commerce, or selling products through social media platforms, will be #1 on all charts. It has excellent potential to rock the world: major market players notice the potential of social commerce, thanks to which there is a large infusion of investment. For example, Soft Bank has invested $150 million in social commerce. Another Yuri Milner-backed social commerce platform raised between $250 and $500 million. Funds are invested in this, and it will develop further.
Is Trendwatching a Business’ Superpower?
The notion of trendwatching has existed for quite some time, since the late 20th century. It is the process of tracking trends that consists of several activities, such as reviewing, identifying, and predicting customer needs in the long term. The company gets a competitive advantage in the market when it detects the trend before its competitors — that is the ultimate goal of trend watching.
In other words, businesses that practice trend-watching will likely stay afloat and accumulate market share. It is about growth and development — nothing more, nothing less. As you know, the business has three goals: survival, success, and development. And trend watching is all about development, particularly having the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of any trends and directions. That is why corporations put so much effort and money into it — to avoid missing out on a trend and being left behind.
Trendwatching is a competitive advantage for any company, its secret weapon for rapid growth and development. So how do we determine it before others do?
Trends’ Birth Date: How to Time it?
Timing is one of the sensitive issues in trend watching, the purpose of which is to gain a competitive advantage over rivals. To succeed in it, some businesses developed a range of effective mechanisms that helped them determine the trend while it was still in test mode. Let’s learn the next thing on our table: the right timing.
#1 Monitor Everything in the Industry
It is crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest news in the industry. Businesses can gain a competitive advantage by reading industry literature and expert publications, monitoring market technology innovations, and studying reports and statistics that can help identify hypotheses and trends.
Some people also attend various conferences and lectures about the trends, yet such events cover relatively outdated developments already implemented by large corporations. Conferences are significant events for networking and getting to know people in your industry when you are a newbie to the business. For professionals, conferences are a waste of the most valuable resource: time.
On the other hand, reading industry literature and expert publications has more value regarding trend watching. In fact, it is an integral part of the success of any business that tries to develop a fantastic business strategy to beat the competition and stand out in the industry. The diversity of the reading materials is also a must. Why concentrate on one opinion when you have such a marvelous opportunity to indulge in debates and discussions about one or other topics in e-commerce?
In my experience, I follow different resources, for instance, the Andreessen Horowitz blog, one of the top venture capital funds reporting trends in their newsletters, and INC.5000, a blog about the fastest-growing business models. Aside from venture capitalists, following Twitter personas or subscribing to newsletters is another way to utilize industry information. I follow many venture capitalists on Twitter, including Sam Altman from Y Combinator, who discusses trends, artificial intelligence, and other intriguing topics.
Like other leaders in the e-commerce industry, I enjoy reading newsletters from significant companies such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce. They are excellent sources of information, especially business insights and strategies. It is fascinating to see how trends develop in Asia and America and how similar yet different they are.
#2 Brainstorming, Forecasting, and Modeling
Brainstorming within an expert team can be as effective as monitoring market trends. Develop ideas based on futurological forecasting (potential scenarios based on current trends), extrapolation (analysis with historical data), modeling, analogy, reverse prediction, or simply roadmaps. These instruments are potent tools for seeing how trends are born.
#3 Watch out for Startups and Emerging Markets
Analyzing competitors’ activity in the market is essential, but businesses should think outside the box and keep track of startups and emerging markets. This is one of the “must-haves” in the business strategy and should be considered a priority rather than an option.
Most startups are driven by high-end technology, innovations, and agile testing, with the help of which new trends are being born. So, do not be surprised if you come across a startup whose technology is now considered a trend in 2023.
Furthermore, you must keep an eye on emerging markets to clearly understand the achievements and progress in the particular industry, emphasizing key performance indicators. A vivid example of a trendsetting market could be China, as it is known for its phenomenal success in the e-commerce industry.
Taobao, a Chinese online shopping platform, was born through a series of experiments: Taobao’s live broadcast was an overnight success. The company decided to develop this concept further; soon, it became an industry trend. Then, competitors saw it and decided to pick it up and implement it in their business strategies.
Businesses should not follow all the competitors in the industry; it is relatively impossible. They should focus on startups and emerging markets, where innovations and trends are constantly being born.
#4 Tips on E-Commerce News: What to Follow?
Many sources report the latest trends in e-commerce. Here is a list of my favorite publications worth following:
Practical E-commerce and Digital Commerce 360 provide an overview of the e-commerce industry and its direction, whether in marketing, design, or analytics. On the other hand, Econsultancy shares a new view of digital marketing trends, and Retail Dive talks about significant retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, and Lululemon. In the meantime, Glossy reveals beauty brand trends, and Modern Retail unveils omnichannel trends.
You can find the latest news in the form of newsletters in Lean Luxe, 2 PM, Chips + Dips, Retail Brew, The Hustle, and Vogue Business. And my favorite podcasts are Retail Gets Real, Future Commerce, Modern Retail, and Goal Talk.
Implementing Trends in Business Strategy: a Case Study
Implementing trends in a business strategy can be tricky and misleading. One striking example of an early emerging trend is “hype.” Companies should be able to tell the difference between hype and trend. One of the most effective ways to distinguish between trend and hype terms is to determine whether they solve a person’s basic needs. Even today, Maslow’s pyramid of needs is crucial, especially in the e-commerce industry.
When a business establishes a genuine early trend with all its characteristics, it is the right time to get into testing mode. Remember, the beauty of trend-watching is that people can test as many trends as they want while they are hot. No need to worry about missing out on one or another trend — try them all. Yet, corporations have to set a framework for testing, which has to be short-term, preferably up to three months.
During this time, it is important to track all performance metrics, including conversion rates and profits, as only the key performance indicators will be able to tell you whether implementing the trend was a good or bad idea.
Analytics — An Essential Role in Trends
Analytics, without a doubt, also play an essential role in trend watching: when you notice your competitors doing something new, you want to try it yourself and test it with your audience. For instance, in China, the industry media wrote about live commerce, and industry experts noticed the trend.
We dug deeper into the other part of analytics and found that this trend is growing in many countries. We started looking at how startups were showing up in this field and how rapidly they were growing. After analyzing the numbers, a decision was made: if you see the trend growing, you must enter this field.
Yet, you have to be careful with analytics as some cultural differences may come between you and your company’s success. In my experience, a vivid example of such a problem was the implementation of live commerce trends from China in the CIS countries. Initially, we started watching the trend with live commerce. When we tried to transfer it to the markets of the CIS countries, we saw that people were not as willing to go live. They associated the live commerce trend — with live broadcasts on Instagram.
What Works for Trends in CIS Countries?
Even though implementing the foreign trend did not work out as it was meant to, my team saw the potential trend based on analyzing the behavior of the CIS countries’ audiences, which led to implementing an unexpected yet successful trend. We noticed the short video format works well.
When we started diving deeper, we discovered what kind of psychology people have and that they like to consume short content that is fun and engaging. We saw TikTok’s statistics and ad formats, where a native ad is caught among other ads, and its engagement rate is much higher than any other ad format on Instagram or Facebook. We focused on short videos, which worked for us.
Test and Test and Test to be Sure
Testing the hypothesis is the most optimal solution for implementing the trend: it may work out or fail — there is no right or wrong strategy. When you implement a trend, you need to formulate a clear hypothesis, what you want to get in the output, and what will be a success in hypothesis testing. When you set clear indicators and then check the output for a month or two, you understand whether it worked.
Trend-watching helps businesses satisfy customers’ needs and wants in the most creative ways possible. If you know how to utilize trend-watching in your business and build the next empire, you are on the right track to making it happen.
Set the trends of 2023 on your radar, implement them in your strategy, and make others follow you.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Cup of Couple; Pexels; Thank you!