online shopping trends

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, technology played a huge role in enhancing customer shopping experiences and making retail owners’ lives easier. Now, with the boost in ecommerce shopping and continued advancement in the industry, any business owner that does not keep up with the latest technology is sure to fall behind. 

There are a plethora of different digital trends that are expected to shape 2023, including mobile shopping, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital signage, just to name a few. Wholesale Central has gathered all of these top trends from some of the leading experts in the industry just for our readers. 

Here is a look at the latest crop of predictions for technology in 2023:

“Shopping on mobile devices is no longer a perk, it is an expectation for consumers, and brands have to create a mobile mentality to keep up,” Jennifer Shambroom, CMO at Clickatell, said. “Mobile commerce is becoming the preferred channel for shopping for consumers with mobile devices, accounting for 71 percent of retail traffic, and generating 61 percent of online shopping orders.”

In 2023, Shambroom says brands will need to focus on customers’ lifestyles and create mobile-friendly experiences and layouts. Ecommerce businesses will also need to offer mobile-friendly payment options, like Apple Pay, to create a seamless one-click checkout experience. One of the key areas for mobile commerce is chat commerce, as more retailers link with mobile messaging platforms and enable consumers to make purchases through SMS and chat apps. 

How to Make Your Mobile Shopping Experience Stand Out

Given the digital shopping habits that consumers have adopted in recent years, and the fact that almost every brand now possesses a mobile app, retailers will need to make sure they stand out from the competition. According to Pieter de Villiers, CEO and Co-Founder at Clickatell, brands aiming to stand out must seek to blend and connect mobile experiences with in-store experiences better than their rivals. 

“One method to accomplish this is to explore new channels such as real-time communication via SMS text messages, as has already been done for many years in other markets across the globe. While the U.S. has traditionally lagged behind when it comes to mobile messaging and communication with customers, the capability enables brands to cultivate more personalized experiences, connect with their most loyal customers on the medium they most frequent (iMessage, WhatsApp, etc.), and provide a higher level of customer support,” Villiers said. 

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In 2023, social platforms will further invest in ecommerce, according to Link Walls, VP of Digital Marketing Strategy at Channel Advisor. Platforms like Facebook can now take orders, clearly showcasing their value. 

“One platform we will see emerge as a key player in the new year is Pinterest. It combines the power of search engines like Google with a unique and user-friendly method of saving and sharing countless ideas, including ideas for products relevant to each search. Currently, not every product has a link to purchase, but when they do, the benefits of integrating ecommerce into the platform, and others like it, will be even more evident,” Walls said. 

Taking Shopping to the Next Level

Going along with shopping through social media, Jay Myers, Co-Founder of Bold Commerce, predicts that retailers will adopt technology that powers checkout on any digital and physical channel to meet shoppers where they are most engaged. They will be able to shop through channels that were not originally designed to cater to completing a purchase, such as packaging, videos, or even fitness equipment. 

“For example, consumers will be able to make purchases while watching a video, or buy a product through their Peloton screen while they are in a class — all without being redirected to an ecommerce site. Consumers will have quicker, more accessible options to make a purchase on all the channels that they are already engaging with brands,” Myers said. 

Offer a Wide Range of Payment Options

With the ability to make purchases in store, through their phones, and now through a variety of different social platforms, it is imperative that retailers give customers different payment options so that they can continue to shop anywhere they want. 

“More consumers shop and buy online using virtual payments and, if not already doing so, brands should consider including digital/virtual rewards as part of their rebate and incentive program payment options,” Russ Mann, Vice President of Marketing at Advertising Checking Bureau, said. “In 2023, it is going to be crucial to offer a wide range of payment choices including virtual, physical cards, and gift cards to provide consumers with the satisfaction of personally selecting the reward that best fits their lifestyle.” 

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The Abandoned Cart Problem Prompts New Opportunities for Engagement

How customers view their digital shopping cart is often less black and white than how a retailer views it. Many shoppers see the cart as more of a wish list or a basket rather than a commitment and use it as a place to store items they may come back to in the future, according to Brian Walker, Chief Strategy Officer at Bloomreach. The cart is also a major part of the research stage for customers, allowing them to sift through options, narrow down their list, or look for discounts and promotions. 

“While retailers have focused heavily on the challenges of abandoned carts for years now, I believe the next year presents an important opportunity for them to reframe the cart’s purpose and build ways to help customers in their purchase journey and to buy with confidence as never before,” Walker said. “Simply focusing on discounts as a way to gain conversions simply trains shoppers to game the system and really does not address the fundamental challenge. What customers leave behind offers insight into preferences and behaviors — valuable information that marketers can use to offer more relevant communications and build a stronger relationship with that consumer.” 

Rather than seeing the cart as an end, Walker says marketers can leverage it as a starting point for continuous engagement. When a customer abandons their cart, marketers should take the opportunity to re-engage them in an organic way — avoiding pushy campaigns that direct the shopper back to their forgotten item. Instead, brands can look to incorporate different channels, content, promotions, or product recommendations into their communication strategies, offering greater value to the customer and providing more reasons for them to come back. 

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The Demand for In-Store Digital Signage Increases

Digital signage is an efficient technology that ensures good internal communication, product information, and public information for brand recognition. Last year, the market for global digital marketing solutions was valued at $18 million, and by 2023, the market is predicted to be valued at $32.84 billion as demand continues to increase. 

“Digital signage, in general, should continue to be put into place. Seeing digital signage in ways that are within your brand language and on message is always an efficient and compelling way to bring energy and timely information into a space,” Josh Lowery, Co-Founder and Director of Operations at Makeway, said. “Digital signage is getting cheaper every year to implement not just screens, but all of the technology that powers and manages them.” 

If digital signage is still too expensive for your small business, Lowery advises brands to include a QR code on your print signs, either throughout the store or in your window displays, as a way to still engage shoppers and extend the momentum outside of your storefront. If consumers decide not to go into your store and just window shop, QR codes are a great way to capture their attention and still be able to pull them into your ecosystem through an email list or social media platforms. 

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Virtual Store Associates Will Replace Chatbots

Although ecommerce has evolved greatly over the past few years, one of the experiences it has lacked is the one-on-one interactions and recommendations given by associates in stores while shopping. Whether it be finding the best alternative to a shirt that is not the right size, or asking an opinion on a good gift for a loved one, having access to immediate support is crucial to the shopping experience. 

“In 2023, we will see brands implement hyper-personalized virtual shopping experiences to simulate those interactions online,” Sarah Cascone, VP of Marketing at Bluecore, said. “For example, live chats will evolve from bots to actual associates who are in store. With bots, shoppers would receive general previously generated responses, but virtual store associates will be able to help consumers answer any questions they may have while perusing the website and get specific answers catered to their needs in real time.” 

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Consumers want a frictionless, self-service experience that meets and exceeds the expectations they have formed from retail giants like Amazon. While it is difficult to match a last mile delivery service like Prime, Andrew Douglas, Group Creative Director at Appnovation, advises that retailers should include and be explicit about delivery or pick up methods when communicating with customers. Local, small-to-mid size retailers do have last mile options with technology companies like Joyride, Go/For, and Flash Box, at their disposal. 

“There are a plethora of technologies to choose from for independent retailers,” Douglas said. “What often gets overlooked is updates to existing technology you may be using. Shopify is an obvious choice for most, and earlier this year, they released some fantastic customer engagement tools for their merchants. Do not underestimate the power of personalizing legacy communication and marketing channels like email.”

Technology will only continue to evolve and better the shopping experiences for customers both in store and online. Let these digital trends help you kick your 2023 business strategies into gear and not only attract new shoppers, but also keep them loyal to your brand.

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