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The factors shaping eCommerce in 2023; How to get ahead!

The current economic situation in the UK is a bit of a shambles, to say the least, and it’s a difficult time for everyone. It’s also a really tricky time for merchants who are planning their eCommerce strategy for 2023. To help, we’ve pulled together some of the top trends, statistics and straight-up practical advice so you can take on 2023 with confidence. 

So, what’s going to be affecting the industry next year? 

  1. Customer Service Will Be a Priority 
  2. Inflation Will Impact Online Spending
  3. Sustainable Brands Will Succeed 
  4. Subscription Commerce Will Drive Revenue and Customer Loyalty
  5. AI & AR Will Influence Customers

Customer Service Will Be a Priority 

Customer service can be the only point of contact between a customer and an online retailer, so it needs to be a positive, memorable experience. Customers are also expecting a response 24/7, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re responding (at least with an automated response) at all times. 

Customers want help quickly. Whether their issue is to do with a product, an existing order or a refund request, it’s important to make their experience easy and efficient. 87%  of consumers spend less money with brands that don’t provide great customer service. Some even avoid the brand entirely. So if you’re wanting customer loyalty in 2023, be sure to improve your customer support service (live chat, social media or by phone). 

Inflation Will Impact Online Spending

Consumers are already being more mindful about their purchases and will likely continue to do so in the new year. So how can you adapt to reassure customers that they still need what you offer? 

There are two main things to consider: Flexible payment options and returns policies. For many consumers, both of these elements are key parts of the shopping process. Some might leave sites entirely if their preferred payment or return option isn’t available. 

It’s proven that 67% of shoppers check the return policy before buying online. 62% would stop buying from a brand entirely if they have a poor return experience. However, there is some good news!  92% of consumers will purchase from you if the returns process is easy. 

If your customers are hesitant to make certain payments up-front and would benefit from long-term payments, flexible payment options might also be a good, budget-friendly offering in 2023. 

Top tip: Go hard or go home. If you’re incorporating changes to your payment or returns policies, be sure to commit and deliver on them, as brands that don’t fulfil their promises are likely to face a backlash from their customers. 

Sustainable Brands Will Succeed 

The demand for ‘greener’ and more ethical products has been rising over the past 12 months. 52% of consumers say the pandemic made them value sustainability. Even with current financial pressures, we’re seeing that customers are still willing to spend more with sustainable brands. 

With this in mind, we expect more companies to adopt a more environmentally conscious mindset in 2023. 

Some approaches to becoming more sustainable are:

  • Selling products that are created using sustainable materials
  • Opting for environmentally-friendly packaging materials
  • Making it easier for customers to recycle or reuse your products

There are some really creative ways that you can launch and promote these changes, so they’re worth adding to your marketing strategy. 

Subscription Commerce Will Drive Revenue and Customer Loyalty

One way to drive revenue and retention in 2023 is to integrate subscription models into your commerce strategy. Almost 35% of weekly online shoppers use subscriptions and that figure is set to grow.  

We’ve seen how automated purchases and ‘subscribe and save’ options have boomed in recent years, and customers will still be wanting the convenience in 2023. 

This doesn’t mean that merchants should eliminate all manual ordering, but by adding a subscription option at checkout, your customers get what they’re after and you’ll be more likely to get future revenue from that one buyer.

The Next Generation of Shoppers Will Change Everything

Have you factored Generation Alpha and Gen Z into your 2023 eCommerce strategy? Well, now’s the time to do it. These younger generations are totally changing the game for online retailers. Not only are they unbelievably tech-savvy, they’re also interacting with platforms in surprising ways. 

The stats:

  1. 55% of Gen Z’ers use smartphones more than five hours each day, and 26% are on their phones 10+ hours daily
  2. 97% of Gen Zers use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration.
  3. More than 40% of Gen Z would rather lose their wallets than their smartphones

So – retailers should be aware of the impact they can have on these ‘always on’ shoppers. A few ways to reach these audiences are through digital advertising, social media or content that utilises augmented reality.

What do Generation Alpha and Gen Z really expect from retailers? 

  1. The ability to shop on multiple platforms. While websites are still a must-have, these generations will want to make purchases on Instagram and other social commerce apps. 
  2. Information to be presented in a quick and easy way. These generations expect immediate answers and flexible options. Online retailers that can offer this will thrive. 
  3. To be able to research on their terms. Many prefer to use TikTok rather than Google as their go-to search engine. If you want them to be browsing and making purchase decisions, a TikTok strategy could be the best approach. This transition away from Google will change the game from an SEO perspective too! 

Retailers should pay attention and integrate more customer research than ever if they want to attract these generations in 2023.

AI & AR Will Influence Customers

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) are quickly becoming the driving force behind many advancements in eCommerce. With AI technology, retailers can offer personalised experiences that are tailored just right, while predicting market trends ahead of their customers.

AR, on the other hand, helps customers to visualise products and even try on or test items out without having to go in-store. It turns out that shoppers engage with these 3D images of products nearly 50% more than static ones!

There’s also the Metaverse to consider! A mind-musher for many, the Metaverse is essentially just a computer-generated environment where consumers can interact with products and make purchases – just like in real life. 

How can you use AI & AR in your eCommerce strategy?

  • Data analysis – Predict what customers might want next based on their previous shopping behaviour. 
  • Forecasting – Take out the guesswork and make accurate pricing decisions based on actual data.
  • Get visual – create demo videos and test out AR so your customers can get a deeper understanding of your products. You might even want to dip a toe into the Metaverse too.

These predictions for the upcoming year should give you a head start on your eCommerce plans for 2023. Whether it’s tweaking pricing and customer service, using AI in sales and marketing or introducing subscription models, being ahead of these trends will help ensure your success next year.