The retail and eCommerce space experienced immense innovation and adaptation over the past few years—especially as a result of the effects of the pandemic and economic challenges. Online shopping has increased dramatically, businesses have leaned into contactless payments methods, and order fulfillment has shifted to focus on limited contact options like curbside pickup and doorstep delivery.
Let’s look at some of the recent trends that will shape retail and eCommerce as we head into 2023.
- Omnichannel Everything
As more and more consumers make the shift to online shopping, fulfillment is splitting in every direction. Customers are having products shipped directly to their homes from warehouses, they’re picking up orders curbside and in-store, and retail and eCommerce businesses are shipping products from every location—including their brick-and-mortar storefronts and wholesalers.
This has made it much more convenient for consumers to shop. However, it’s also made logistics much more difficult for many retail and eCommerce brands. To effectively scale to meet the increased demand for online shopping in 2023, they will need to start thinking about adopting an omnichannel order management system (OMS).
- BOPIS and BOPAC
Customers have grown attached to order fulfillment methods like in-store and curbside pickup—and not just because they’re the more health-conscious options either. Since buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) and buy online, pickup curbside (BOPAC) allow customers to browse your products on their mobile devices and pick up their order when it’s most convenient for them, the ease of in-store and curbside pickup is far greater than more traditional shopping methods.
To keep up with demand and meet consumers’ order fulfillment expectations, retail businesses will need to take a serious look at their BOPIS and BOPAC strategies for 2023.
- Ship from Store
With eCommerce’s share of total retail sales projected to increase from 20.7.% in 2021 to 23.4% in 2023, retail and eCommerce businesses need to find ways to accelerate order cycles and improve their overall fulfillment logistics.
One trend that’s poised to make this possible is ship-from-store fulfillment, which allows businesses to use their storefronts to ship online orders. Being located much closer to customers’ homes, these alternative “fulfillment centers” allow businesses to ship orders faster while decreasing the overall cost of fulfillment.
- Last Mile Notifications
Knowing where packages are when in-transit is important to your customers. In addition to giving them peace of mind, it allows them to plan accordingly so their order isn’t left out in inclement weather or stolen from their doorstep.
While customers are not yet able to track every step of the fulfillment process, the improvements made to last-mile tracking have made it possible for customers to visualize the movement of their order over the last-mile of the fulfillment process.
As we approach 2023, we can expect to see more improvements made to package tracking and, more specifically, last-mile tracking for online orders.
- Social Media
It’s no secret that social media is a powerful tool for eCommerce and retail businesses. Between advertising and selling products, the platforms provide easy-to-use and engaging spaces for consumers to connect with brands and retailers. However, many companies have yet to tap into the full potential of social media as a customer support tool.
Given the fact that many customers prefer social media over phone calls, adopting and scaling your use of social media to improve customer care can result in a massive payoff. In fact, 86% of consumers are more likely to be more loyal to a brand that engaged them on social media, and answering a social media complaint can lead to a 25% increase in brand advocacy
- Proactive Support
Expectations for customer support are growing all the time. To stay in customers’ good graces, retail and eCommerce businesses need to find ways to answer questions and solve problems faster and more effectively.
As a result, many are planning to take a more proactive approach to customer care by delivering answers before they’re asked and solving problems before they occur. As we head into 2023, some popular solutions we’re likely to see include FAQ pages, knowledge centers, visual IVR technology, and artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots designed to provide answers on-demand and share information proactively.
- “Buy Now Pay Later”
When the pandemic began sweeping across the globe, a lot of consumers faced financial hardships as they lost their jobs or had their working hours significantly reduced. However, by offering layaway programs and “buy now, pay later” options, many businesses were able to continue catering to hard-hit individuals. As a result, these businesses have significantly increased new customers and revenue.
Buy now, pay later options like Afterpay, Affirm, and Sezzle are likely to help retail and eCommerce businesses hang onto customers and potentially turn a larger profit (particularly with their larger ticket items).
- Payment Options
Customers’ wallets are expanding. Now, instead of being restricted to debit and credit cards, they can make payments using mobile options like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, PayPal, and even cryptocurrencies.
However, the number of retail and eCommerce businesses that accept the same wide range of payment options is still relatively small—at least for now. With eCommerce shopping predicted to continue to rise in the coming year, businesses will likely expand their accepted payment methods to make shopping easier and more accessible to everyone.
- AI Fraud Detection
In the past, human employees were in charge of detecting fraud. They’d review receipts, view shipping addresses, and generally perform all of the authentication work by hand. But with the recent advent of AI, many businesses have opted to hand off their fraud detection work to trained algorithms.
Unfortunately, while this has accelerated the fraud detection process, it’s also made online shopping much more inconvenient for customers since the algorithms require extensive amounts of information to run effectively.
As AI fraud detection continues to get more sophisticated and streamlined to provide an exceptional online payment experience, more brands and retailers will adopt AI fraud prevention strategies and more consumers will reap the benefits.
Every year, new opportunities emerge for eCommerce businesses and retailers to improve their customer experience and logistics—and 2023 looks to be no exception. From new payment options and artificial intelligence to omnichannel fulfillment and proactive customer care, there are a lot of exciting trends headed our way.
Want to learn how to take advantage of these trends in your retail or eCommerce business? Contact the omnichannel commerce technology and operations experts at Radial.