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8 Ecommerce Trends to Look Out For

By Steve Smith

The information presented here is true and accurate as of the date of publication. DeVry’s programmatic offerings and their accreditations are subject to change. Please refer to the current academic catalog for details.


September 26, 2023
8 min read

Brick and mortar retailers have had more than their share of ups and downs in recent years.  Online retail sales tell another story. Several ecommerce trends point to growth and sustainability, signaling opportunities for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial-minded ecommerce newcomers to take advantage of into the foreseeable future. In this article, we’ll touch briefly on 8 trends in ecommerce that are driven by modern consumers and the efforts of brands that need to reach them.

1. Personalized Experiences

As consumers continue to embrace the convenience of online shopping, the online marketplaces of retail ecommerce have generated impressive numbers. Global online retail stats suggest that sales are projected to reach $6.51 trillion in 2023. In the U.S., retail ecommerce sales for the second quarter of 2023 were $269.5 billion, an increase of 6.6% from the first part of the year, according to the Census Bureau.

Ecommerce marketers are taking advantage of that uptick and have responded with customer-focused tactics that include things like personalized email messages, special discounts and buying suggestions based on customers’ purchase histories to attract more business. These efforts attempt to nurture a one-to-one relationship between brand and consumer. Some ecommerce retailers have even begun integrating user-generated content, such as videos, into the online shopper’s experience.

According to a Forbes Insights report, 40% of executives say that personalization has had a direct impact on maximizing sales, basket size (or the total number of products a consumer purchases in one transaction) and profits in direct-to-consumer distribution channels.

2. The Power of AI

Ecommerce has embraced artificial intelligence (AI) in several ways. Technologies like AI chatbots are being used by online stores to allow customers to ask questions or issue commands, with the chatbot acting as a virtual assistant.

Another aspect of AI as an ecommerce trend is the uptake of virtual reality (VR). This technology is being used to help shoppers visualize the products they’re browsing and better determine if a product will meet their needs and expectations. By showing products in virtual reality, companies can enhance the shopper’s experience and help them to explore products in a way that is similar to in-person shopping. It isn’t clear whether business-to-business, or B2B ecommerce trends will follow along this path.

3. Sustainability is Here to Stay

Consumers are finding it increasingly easier to be green. In a February 2023 survey, more than 70% of respondents said they were willing to pay more for sustainably-produced goods. Ecommerce businesses are responding by adopting environmentally friendly practices. Millennials are driving this trend, indicating they are the most open to paying more for sustainably produced goods, such as locally grown produce, goods made from recycled, sustainable or eco-friendly materials or products from a company with a reputation for ethical practices, such as supporting human rights and not mistreating animals. 

4. Seamless Online and Mobile Shopping Experience

The increased use of mobile devices, specifically smartphones and tablets, has been a major driver of ecommerce growth. Sales in the mcommerce category are projected to reach $534 billion in 2024, accounting for just over 40% of all ecommerce sales.

Embracing this trend, ecommerce retailers are optimizing their websites for mobile shopping, ensuring that the consumer’s shopping experience on a smartphone is just as satisfying as it is on a desktop computer. The millennials and Gen Z consumers are driving this trend, largely because more likely to shop online using mobile devices than members of older generations.

5. The Role of Social Media

It appears the social shopping, or social commerce, phenomenon is here to stay as well, enabling consumers to discover brands and buying opportunities while scrolling through social media feeds. The role of social media in ecommerce is expanding, with consumers increasingly using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and WhatsApp to make purchases online. Using platforms like Shopify, brands are linking their stores to social media sites so consumers can buy directly from them using social media. More social media platforms are implementing livestream shopping capabilities, with influencers using platforms like Amazon Live to promote products.

Facebook launched its Facebook Shops platform in 2020 to help small and medium-sized business create online stores, and it’s quickly become the most popular social shopping channel in the United States. Online shoppers across all age groups have identified FB as their favorite social shopping channel, with an estimated one million FB users buying from Shops monthly. 

6. Subscriptions for Customer Retention

The subscription model – in which consumers pay a monthly fee to get a regular delivery of a product from apparel to health products, cosmetics, groceries and meal kits – has been described as an ecommerce growth engine, providing frictionless transactions and recurring monthly revenue.

Research indicates that subscriptions grew by more than 300% from 2012 to 2019, and then even higher since 2020. Convenience, cost-effectiveness and the opportunity to try new products are all reasons why consumers sign up or plan to subscribe to a brand.

While subscriptions in ecommerce are still considered trending, many consumers are rethinking how they engage with brands and whether their subscriptions are delivering the benefits and value they expected when signing up. Why do they cancel? The biggest reasons are they no longer need the product or service, or it’s become too expensive.

7. Don’t Discount Voice Search

A combination of advanced connectivity and consumer convenience has secured a place for voice search technology in our everyday lives. Voice search uses voice recognition technology, which translates spoken words into text that a search engine then uses the same way as in a standard search query typed on a keyboard.

As consumers embrace the convenience of voice search – which requires them only to press a button and issue a command or query to their mobile device rather than typing a search phrase – businesses in the ecommerce space may place major emphasis on voice search optimization. According to data from Statista, about 35% of the United States population had a smart speaker device in 2022. 

8. Younger Generations Dominate the Online Shopping Market

Millennials, America’s most populous generation, are using their annual spending power of $2.5 trillion to drive the bulk of online sales. According to recent survey results, there have been significant changes in the way millennials shop, and ecommerce players will be refining their strategies to cater to the enormous buying power of these consumers, aged 25 to 40. 

  • Findings show millennials do about 80% of their shopping online, and more than half of that shopping is done on mobile devices.

  • Among the millennials surveyed, 73% said they changed how they shop due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than half shifting away from brick-and-mortar retail stores and toward online venues.

  • Since the previous survey was conducted in 2019, millennials continue to place importance on saving money and finding deals but have significantly increased their emphasis on experiential concerns like a smooth checkout process and product recommendations.

Prepare to Pursue Your E-Commerce Career with a DeVry MBA

If you’re thinking about a career in ecommerce or business, whether as an entrepreneur looking to start the next online powerhouse or to guide an established enterprise to its next level, we can help you prepare to pursue your goals here at DeVry and our Keller Graduate School of Management. Alongside the core business administration curriculum of a typical MBA program, our Master of Business Administration with a Specialization in Entrepreneurship focuses on the new venture lifecycle. Experienced and insightful faculty cover successful marketing and exit strategies, funding for the new venture, conceptualization, planning and other essential skills.

Online learning can also help you balance your commitment to education with work, family and other aspects of your busy life. Classes start soon. Let’s talk about getting you started in our next session.

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