by Bluegrass Digital CEO Nick Durrant
According to Shopify, global ecommerce sales are forecast to reach as much as $5.7 trillion worldwide in 2022. While this number is large and impressive, what is most interesting about it is what it means in the context of traditional retail spend. Around 19.7% of total global retail sales in 2022 are expected to come from online purchases, which means that nearly $0.20 of every $1 spent on retail goods this year will be done over the Internet.
While the growth of e-commerce is nothing new, over the next few years we will see businesses increasingly focusing online and embracing digital channels and touch points to engage with a broader range of customers, more strategically and in new and different ways.
Below, I unpack the five top ecommerce trends I think business leaders, brands and developers should be watching in 2023.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation
In the past, businesses would collect copious amounts of data but then someone had to find the time to analyse all this information and drawing conclusions from it and make future predictions. Artificial intelligence (AI) makes this process more streamlined and far more efficient. In 2023 and beyond, ecommerce brands will use data in new ways. Think virtual assistants, product recommendations and more personalised shopping experiences. In online space, customer service and efficiency are key.
By automating customer queries using AI and chat bots only escalating more difficult customer concerns to human operators, it is possible to alleviate pressure on staff and leave people to do things that require a more personal touch. Going forward, it’s likely that chat bot technology will play an even bigger role in online shopping experiences
Artificial reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and extended reality (XR)
In 2023, more and more brands will be playing around with how they can leverage immersive technologies to create natural shopping experiences, online. Advances in these industries will start making it possible for customers to try on clothes, test out how a couch they’ve been eyeing might look in their living room and experience live performances and fashion shows from the front row.
For software and mobile app developers, the challenge in 2023 will be around how to create these virtual experiences and ensure that they are accessible to as many people as possible. And one can’t mention virtual world without touching on the metaverse.
There are so many applications for immersive experiences in retail. For example, brands could leverage the metaverse to test out new products and get a sense of how consumers respond to them before they are launched in the real world because metaverse product launches comes with fewer risks and lower expenses.
In recent times, mobile commerce has exploded and 2023 looks no different. While consumers can use websites to shop online, mobile apps are easier to access and navigate and they provide a more user-focused experience.
Mobile wallets and in-app payment features also make the process of completing a purchase more seamless. In line with this, we are also seeing more and more retailers building progressive web apps (PWAs) because they are more affordable to develop and maintain. They are also highly available, faster, smoother to use and, thus, they offer users better shopping experiences; all of this boosts sales conversion rates.
Unsurprisingly, security has to be a focus in 2023. As online retailers add increasingly innovative technologies and functionality to their sites and apps to keep up with their competitors, cyber attackers are quick to exploit these updates by identifying vulnerabilities that they can exploit.
Something like a data breach can have serious consequences for a business; adversely affecting reputation and credibility. Anyone who wants to participate in the ecommerce space must prioritise data security and must have adequate cybercrime prevention measures in place. And, more importantly, constantly keep these measures up-to-date by staying abreast of the types of attacks to be on the lookout for.
In 2023, voice search will continue gaining traction. With massive growth in the popularity of digital assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, developers and businesses need to make sure that their app and website are discoverable via voice search queries. In addition, most voice searches are usually questions rather than phrases so it’s important to optimise for common trigger words – like new, how, do, what, where, when, top, best, who, why, free etc.