What’s in store for the quickly-evolving e-commerce landscape in the coming months—the approaching holiday season and into next year? With a keen eye for emerging trends, Michael Quoc, founder of tech accelerator Demand.io and creator of SimplyCodes, foresees dynamic shifts that will reshape how consumers shop and brands operate online, including the rise of Recommerce, the fusion of social media and e-commerce, and the transformation of product-return models to encourage responsible purchasing and sustainability. Read on to learn more about what’s likely to be on the horizon for online brands—trends that just might see more consumers move from online to in-store shopping.
1. Recommerce revolutionizes shopping norms
In a conscious effort to promote sustainability and reduce waste, we’re likely to see a surge in the popularity of Recommerce this Christmas season. Both brands and shoppers are anticipated to embrace the concept of buying used, second-hand, reusing, reselling, and thrifting. This shift reflects a growing awareness of the environmental impact of consumerism, with brands like Lululemon already exploring initiatives like “Lululemon Like New,” encouraging customers to buy and sell pre-loved items and setting the stage for a more eco-conscious shopping future.
This trend aligns with the increasing interest in sustainable practices and the circular economy. With research revealing that 76 percent of global consumers prefer to shop with retailers that source services and materials in highly ethical ways, consumers will be attracted to brands that promote eco-friendly options, fostering a positive impact on the environment while enjoying quality products at affordable prices.
2. TikTok and live video shopping take center stage
The fusion of social media and e-commerce is set to reach new heights, particularly through platforms like TikTok. Watch for the rise of TikTok shopping, transforming the platform into the modern era’s home shopping channel and presenting exciting opportunities for e-commerce this Christmas and beyond. Live video shopping will become a powerhouse for product discovery, where retailers and influencers will leverage its features to engage audiences in real-time, showcasing products and offering exclusive deals. This trend will revolutionize how consumers engage with brands and make purchasing decisions—the appeal of interactive and entertaining shopping experiences drawing in younger consumers, contributing to a surge in e-commerce sales during the holiday season.
3. A paradigm shift in returns and in-person shopping
With 16.5 percent of purchases in the US resulting in returns, a significant transformation is expected in how brands handle this expensive problem. Recognizing the sustainability issues with current return models, brands may begin to implement restocking fees to encourage responsible purchasing behavior and address the rising costs of processing returns. This evolution reflects a greater emphasis on conscious buying habits and aligns with the ongoing movement towards minimizing waste in the retail sector.
As a result of these changes to return models, more consumers are expected to move from online purchases to in-store, with 40 percent of global consumers already expressing their intention to increase in-person shopping because delivery costs are too high, according to a survey by PwC. In response, big box stores will embrace a multi-channel approach, pushing the in-person experience. While they maintain an online presence, these stores will focus on encouraging customers to pick up their online orders in-store, thereby driving foot traffic and fostering an enhanced shopping experience. Offering unique in-store services and incentives that go beyond traditional shopping will help lure customers back to physical stores, even as e-commerce remains a dominant force in the market.
4. Bespoke goods and local shopping flourish
Personalization is key in the evolving e-commerce landscape. Platforms like Etsy will shine as consumers seek personalized options and one-of-a-kind goods. Shopping local instead of big box will also gain momentum, fostering a sense of community and supporting small businesses. Consumers’ desire for unique, handcrafted products will redefine the way brands approach customization and cater to individual preferences.
5. Supply, fulfillment, and last-minute shopping dynamics
In light of the supply chain challenges witnessed during the pandemic, attention will turn to retail supply and fulfillment efficiency, with the upcoming Christmas season putting retailers to the test. The competition between in-person shopping and last-minute e-commerce purchases will intensify as consumers seek convenient and timely solutions for their holiday needs. With the convenience of in-person shopping for last-minute gifts, e-commerce fulfillment and delivery services face the challenge of competing with the immediacy of physical retail. Rising to this challenge, e-commerce players will prioritize logistics optimization and invest in technologies like automation and AI-driven inventory management to streamline operations.
6. Elevating experiences via AI-driven customer engagement
At the heart of this transformative shift lies the seamless integration of AI-driven customer engagement tools, such as the ChatGPT plugin from SimplyCodes. Cutting-edge AI solutions usher in a new era of dynamic interactions between brands and consumers. With tools like the ChatGPT plugin, customers experience an elevated engagement journey that encompasses instant responses to queries, personalized product recommendations, and real-time insights into promotions and discounts.
According to Accenture, 64 percent of consumers wish companies would respond faster to meet their changing needs, something that retailers now wield the power to do. From order tracking to seamless returns, more brands will integrate AI to enhance the overall customer experience, effectively addressing concerns, nurturing loyalty and providing personalized assistance across every step of the customer journey.
Furthermore, AI-driven customer engagement tools will serve as conduits for collecting invaluable feedback and insights into consumer preferences and behaviors. This treasure trove of data will inform not only product refinement but also empower retailers to elevate their services and hone targeted marketing strategies.