For eCommerce retailers, 2023 provides an opportunity to harness consumer behavior trends established during the pandemic and shaped by current market conditions. Shoppers’ expectations for omnichannel experiences, fast delivery, convenience, and personalized service continue. Using technology as part of the shopping process has become a seamless, integrated way of life and consumers expect that experience to translate across all avenues of their lives. Retailers and eCommerce brands that fine-tune their customer experiences to reflect this will be able to drive revenue and loyalty.
As 2023 begins, here are nine consumer behavior trends that are shaping the online shopping experience and ways retailers can leverage those trends:
- Online shopping and brick-and-mortar shopping are both popular. Predictions that online shopping would greatly surpass or replace brick-and-mortar have not proven true. The reopening of stores after the end of lockdowns saw a surge of shoppers return to in-store shopping and it continues to be strong. A recent study showed that 55% of people prefer online shopping, while 45% prefer to shop in-store. The reality is that consumers are shopping in both digital and physical worlds. Retailers that offer enjoyable in-store and eCommerce shopping experiences can capitalize on the ability to provide loyalty-inspiring store experiences and the convenience of online shopping. Blending the two is fast becoming the way most people shop.
- Omnichannel is the new standard. Consumers expect retailers to provide omnichannel experiences where they can shop across channels, switch channels, be recognized by the brand on any channel, and relate to the business as one brand regardless of channel. The ability to communicate with brands via multiple channels has also become status quo. SMS and chat are now normal consumer behaviors in both their personal and work lives, and they expect brands to be able do the same. Retailers that can’t provide a seamless omnichannel experience will inevitably lose customers. Those struggling to implement a true omnichannel experience should evaluate their technology platforms and their ability to integrate applications and systems. Cloud-based platforms that can be integrated with other key systems and then configured to automate workflows are all essential to omnichannel.
- Multiple order fulfillment options are here to stay. The pandemic introduced a variety of eCommerce fulfillment options such as buy online, pickup curbside (BOPAC); buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS); ship-to-store; and buy online, return in-store (BORIS). While these were crisis response solutions, they have since become mainstream and table stakes for brands. As part of an omnichannel experience, retailers need to have order fulfillment technology that integrates with key systems, provides inventory visibility, offers a single pane view of the supply chain, and provides transparent communication for suppliers, shippers, carriers, and customers across all eCommerce fulfillment and transportation management processes.
- Social media shopping is becoming table stakes. Instagram and TikTok hold the lead in social shopping, where consumers can buy directly from these social media platforms. The ease and convenience of social shopping makes it particularly attractive to Gen Z and millennial online shoppers who spend considerable time on their mobile devices and are comfortable with online purchasing. These generations are often more likely to be introduced to new products for the first time on social media rather than search engines. Retailers need to get on board with social shopping and curate a one-stop-shop experience of engaging content, ads, product information, and influencer testimonials if they want to attract younger generations and gain their loyalty.
- Buy now, pay later (BNPL) options influence conversions. The popularity of BNPL at checkout that enables shoppers to buy today and spread out payments in interest-free installments continues to grow. Younger generations are particularly leery of credit card debt and see BNPL as an affordable way to stretch their budgets. Adding BNPL and promoting diverse payment methods in marketing strategies can help online retailers increase conversions and customer spend.
- Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands gain traction. Online consumers appreciate the ability to buy directly from their favorite brands, often reporting that they get a more personalized experience without the middleman. The cost savings for consumers and brands is particularly relevant in a challenging economy. DTC brands generate loyal customers with their curated experiences and customized marketing. More brands may transition to a DTC online sales strategy as an effective way to navigate today’s eCommerce market and evolving consumer behaviors.
- Sustainability matters in purchasing decisions. Half of all consumers report that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors influence their buying process. Additionally, products marketed as being sustainable have 5.6 times higher sales growth than those that are not, and two-thirds of consumers will pay more for sustainable products. Even when consumers are concerned about inflation, their core values remain and influence their shopping behavior. Brands need to keep promoting their ESG initiatives.
- User-generated content (UGC) remains paramount. Customer product reviews, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and user-generated visual content influence consumers when making purchases. Peer-generated content is generally the most trusted content and consumers consider product and brand ratings in their buying decisions. More and more consumers will continue to expect online stores to provide UGC to help them make the best decisions.
- Supply chain disruptions have dispersed shoppers. Out-of-stocks and slow delivery times have shifted consumer behavior so that they are more likely to shop among multiple retailers to find what they need. PWC reports that 40% of US consumers use comparison sites to check for availability, 37% shop at multiple different retailers to find what they want, and 29% will change the retail store where they usually shop to get what they need. As shoppers use multiple retailers, the competition for their loyalty and repeat business increases. This means online stores will need to improve their user experience on their eCommerce platforms and in their brick-and-mortar stores to differentiate themselves. In today’s market, product availability, time to deliver, return policy, and price are significant factors that drive consumer behavior.
Learn all the ways Radial can support your eCommerce success in 2023.