Crucial Trends From 2023 Shaping E-Commerce’s Landscape in 2024
By Roxanna Couse
In a year marked by economic uncertainty and price sensitivity, e-commerce faced many unknowns and navigated numerous challenges. Among these concerns, there was unpredictability around earlier seasonal shopping habits (and the pre-BFCM deals to go along with them), making Black Friday and Cyber Monday softer in terms of demand over previous years. There was also plenty of buzz around the impact of major sports events featuring direct product promotions, the rise of TikTok Shop, and the cultural phenomena that dominated e-commerce sales.
Simply put, there was no denying pop culture’s prevalence in commerce throughout 2023, signaling that it’s something that’s heavily on everyone’s minds. For instance, Amazon hosted a Black Friday NFL game where the Dolphins played the Jets, but that wasn’t the highlight — at least for us e-commerce nerds. Brands like DSW, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Energizer, and Hershey’s sponsored ads with QR codes that would take you directly to the Amazon deal associated with them.
If this weren’t enough of an intersection between pop culture and the brands we love, social commerce has also taken center stage with the introduction of TikTok Shop. Meanwhile, Instagram continues to invest in its Instagram Shop — a dedicated shopping section that allows users to browse and buy products directly within the app — and improve Reels for product showcases. This way, brands can create more compelling marketing campaigns in addition to leveraging product tags, checkout sections, and live video shopping.
If social shopping wasn’t enough to keep e-commerce practitioners on the edge of their seats, Taylor Swift’s Eras tour and the release of Barbie exemplify the rise of viral trends impacting e-commerce. Both media phenomena highlighted the power of pop culture in driving consumer behavior, as fanbases eagerly purchased merchandise, concert and movie tickets, and related products. It also underscored the importance of agility in e-commerce; businesses that could quickly adapt and capitalize on these trends saw significant boosts in engagement and sales. This era of rapid, trend-driven commerce proves that viral moments can significantly impact market dynamics.
With all the buzz and excitement around e-commerce last year, let's talk through the top five merchandiser trends we saw come to life in 2023 that we’re continuing to see in 2024.
The Rise of Merchandising Storytelling
Merchandising storytelling is on the rise, and it’s effective because it leverages an aspect of humanity that we all appreciate: connection. Merchandising storytelling is a way to weave a captivating narrative around merchandise that includes the customer as a character in the story. Not only does this type of storytelling create value comprehension and relevance, but it also enables shoppers to envision how products integrate into their lives.
Looking for an example of merchandising storytelling IRL? Just look at last summer's “cozy cardio” trend that went viral on TikTok. Cozy cardio is everything it sounds like: a low-impact, atmospheric workout complete with pajamas, fuzzy socks, and your favorite beverages and TV shows. Merchants took advantage of this trend by building out collections catered to cozy cardio, where the focus was on comfort and gentle movement above all else. These curated collections built around social commerce and other trending topics will continue in 2024 and are ultimately an excellent way to create demand while delighting your shoppers.
Mobile Device Traffic Outpacing Desktop
It’s probably safe to say in 2024 that the dominance of mobile device traffic is now undeniable. Our customer data from Bloomreach in 2023 indicates that a significant 63% of all traffic on e-commerce sites originated from mobile devices. This trend underscores the importance of designing experiences with a mobile-first approach in mind. It’s no longer simply a nice feature to consider but an essential strategy for reaching a wider audience effectively — some who may no longer have access to a desktop or laptop.
From easy navigation and quick load times to secure payment options and intuitive search functions, every aspect of the end-to-end shopping experience should cater to the mobile user as much as the desktop user — if not more so. Does your e-commerce site currently not accommodate mobile users? You might want to rethink that for 2024. A lack of an engaging, user-friendly, and seamless shopping experience on smartphones and tablets can directly impact conversion rates and revenue. And remember: Functionality is just as important as aesthetics when it comes to your e-comm website.
Searchandising Will Thrive Thanks to LLMs
At Bloomreach, we’ve been talking about searchandising for quite some time — and with the prevalence of large language models (LLMs) in 2023, it’s going to mean a lot to your strategy in 2024. With the right combination of search and merchandising, your customers can rely on the search bar to get them to the products they want to see most. Like merchandising storytelling, searchandising is all about aligning with consumer behavior and preferences and using search trends — such as seasons, holidays, or even Barbie — to highlight patterns in demand and target your customers more effectively through their queries.
There were an astounding 5.6 billion searches conducted in 2023 among Bloomreach customers (compared to 5.1 billion searches in 2022). These numbers make it clear that this trend isn't just growing, it's thriving. Customers are increasingly relying on search functions to navigate their online shopping experiences, which will only prosper with the popularity of virtual shopping assistants. This is reflected in the significant revenue contribution — around 48% — directly attributed to search activities.
Delivering on the Personalization Promise (Finally)
The importance of personalization in product discovery cannot be overstated. It’s like having a dedicated salesperson for each customer who understands their needs, preferences, and shopping patterns. And it’s completely possible to achieve multiple levels of personalization today through the use of e-commerce technology. It’s all a matter of combining your customer data from your data infrastructure with your product data to deliver higher relevance that creates better customer experiences. This can happen through your search bar, category pages, or recommendation widgets in real time.
The journey of personalization begins the moment a customer lands on your website (even if for the first time). It dictates the products they view, the offers they receive, and even their checkout process. This is the essence of the "personalization promise" that we've been talking about in the e-commerce industry for years. Most importantly, though, this isn’t just some abstract concept anymore; it's a tangible strategy that more businesses have begun adopting in 2023 — and this trend will only continue to grow in 2024.
Continuing Price Sensitivity Among Consumers
During this time of economic uncertainty, consumers have developed a keen sense of discounts. The current economic climate has trained consumers to be savvy shoppers, always on the lookout for the best deal, and this heightened price sensitivity is a trend that will continue into 2024. However, this doesn't mean consumers are solely focused on price. They also appreciate quality and value, which is where your unique selling proposition comes into play.
You have an opportunity here to effectively articulate why consumers should choose you over competitors. By honing in on what sets your business apart — whether it’s your product, customer support, or overall shopping experience — you can appeal to these price-sensitive consumers and make a compelling case for why they should shop with your business.
Looking for More Insights?
As we reflect on 2023, the e-commerce landscape navigated a challenging year marked by economic uncertainties and a significant shift toward mobile commerce, personalized shopping experiences, storytelling merchandising, and more. Key trends — like the fusion of pop culture and commerce (e.g., Amazon's Black Friday NFL game) and the rise of social commerce platforms (e.g., TikTok Shop) — also shaped the year. And let’s not forget that the influence of viral trends, such as Taylor Swift’s Eras tour and the Barbie movie, underscored the agility required in e-commerce.
With all that being said, are you ready for 2024?
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