eCommerce brands have had a rollercoaster ride over the last few years. Many experienced highs during the pandemic, as people turned to online and mobile shopping in the absence of physical stores, but a post-COVID landscape has brought a variety of challenges, ranging from supply chain issues to economic uncertainty.

As we look ahead to 2023 and beyond, these challenges will likely remain for eCommerce brands across the world, but it’s not all doom and gloom: with challenges come opportunities. The future looks bright for those that are willing to innovate, stay on top of ever-changing trends, and keep their customers front and centre. Here’s what we can expect to see over the coming years.

In-Store shopping will continue to grow

Post-pandemic we saw consumers revert back to offline shopping, with some eCommerce brands expanding their number of stores, and pure online players such as SHEIN opening physical pop-up stores. The role of the store has changed, becoming more experiential and inspirational. Whilst an offline experience can’t offer the personalised experience that online channels can, retailers are finding ways to work online into the store experience via click-and-collect, in-store modes on apps that allow consumers to book fitting rooms or redeem points for their in-store purchases, and to use the app to check in-store inventory.

Price conscious shopping

With continuing inflationary pressures, consumers will be more price conscious next year. Flexible returns and payment options will become more important. Brand loyalty will be more challenging for eCommerce businesses as consumers spend more time researching prices across multiple brands for the best deals. Google has acknowledged this with their latest Search update for shopping, offering consumers information about price drops, discounts, and price comparisons. Investing in searchable content will therefore become important for eCommerce businesses.

Mobile first

Mobile apps have been on the rise within the eCommerce industry for some time now, and the pandemic was a significant driving factor. Indeed, during the first wave of the pandemic, between February and May 2020, shopping app installs grew more than 150% in the UK, and even though restrictions have now been lifted, there’s no sense of things slowing down. In the first three months of this year, eCommerce app installs in the UK increased 34% on iOS and 11% on Android.

Mobile devices account for 71% of retail traffic, and generate 61% of online shopping orders. It is becoming the preferred channel for shopping, we’re now seeing more traditional retailers follow suit, recognizing the power of mobile as another channel for delivering exceptional experiences, keeping existing customers loyal and engaging with new audiences. eCommerce businesses that want to grow need to focus on mobile first experiences such as mobile payment options like Apple and Google pay.

Live and social shopping

The global social commerce market is set to reach $604.5 billion by 2027, and with TikTok launching its in-app shopping feature, the future looks bright for this space. From shoppable AR filters to live shopping events, the toolkit brands have for tailoring the social commerce experience and personalizing product recommendations will continue to grow, further heightening the appeal of this channel.

Live and social shopping offers a frictionless journey between inspiration and purchase. Previously, consumers were researching or seeing inspiration on social media and then navigating through to a website to purchase. Now, by letting them make their purchase within an app, social commerce reduces the likelihood of them dropping off and consequently boosts conversion rates. Social media also offers a large, highly engaged community who spend almost 2.5 hours per day with it on average, so it makes sense for eCommerce brands to capture users here.). What’s more, these platforms are steadily increasing their influence on purchase behavior — the hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit, for example, has been used 7 billion times.

The brands doing it well are the ones experimenting with platforms’ shopping features. Charlotte Tilbury has excelled in the social commerce space, hosting live shopping events on TikTok and launching a 3D digital store. On Pinterest, meanwhile, Anthropologie created a virtual catalogue that made the most of the platform’s Pin function and enabled users to click-through to purchase.

Re-commerce will be front of mind

Sustainability is increasingly a key part of the consumer decision making process. Preserving the planet is no longer a nice-to-have or a marketing stunt. eCommerce can, and should focus on this, and they can do it in a way that still keeps them profitable. The online fashion rental market will grow over 10% annually. There’s big money in sustainability. With the added benefit of helping the planet. Rental fashion is way beyond a growing trend. It will soon become a normalized shopping behavior. Zara is trialing a “Zara Pre-Owned” repair, resale and donation platform in UK stores, online and via its app. H&M is also offering a rental service via its Regent Street store in London.