From augmented reality to sustainability

Monday, 29 January, 2024 Food From Poland 42/2024
Five e-commerce trends that defined 2023.
Five years after what has proved to be a fundamental transformation of the e-commerce landscape, consumer habits are still changing. This year, consumers have, on the one hand, increasingly turned to new technologies in their shopping path and, on the other, sought to save money due to the feeling of political and economic uncertainty affecting them. This also influenced companies that worked to improve their omnichannel strategy and strived to offer affordable and attractive green solutions and, above all, put cyber security at the forefront.

Here are five trends that defined e-commerce in 2023 according to the Think Forward report:

1. Immersive virtual shopping experience

The surge in public interest in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in recent years has led to the proliferation of these technologies in these companies in 2023. Brands such as BMW Group, Maison Valentino and IKEA have partnered with technology giants (including Meta, Google and Qualcomm) to improve shopping experiences and pre-sales solutions. Virtual and augmented reality have allowed retailers to provide an even higher level of personalisation. For example, by allowing consumers to see how a potential purchase will look in their space, brands are minimising the sense of risk and reducing operational costs associated with potential returns.

2. Non-gaming brands are getting into streaming

The omnichannel boom began to fade in 2023. It has been replaced by a more targeted approach that aims to meet Generation Z online. Hoping to evoke excitement and encourage new discoveries and experiences for customers, brands such as H&M and Shopify have partnered with online game developers and streaming platforms to directly involve shoppers in the brand experience and enhance the sense of enjoyment, thereby driving purchase activity.

3. Cheaper ecology

While sustainability continues to significantly influence consumer behaviour, we are increasingly seeing a decline in sustainable consumption. Brands have therefore sought to bridge this gap by encouraging people to be eco and offering green alternatives at affordable prices. For example, the boutique hotel chain The Hoxton has introduced rewards for guests choosing sustainable travel. FutureCard, on the other hand, provided partial refunds to those who used the cards it issued to purchase low-carbon goods and services. Carrefour, meanwhile, became the first French retailer to be awarded the national title of “brand committed to not wasting food” for its sustainability promotion activities, including, among other things, selling perishable products at a significantly reduced price.

4. Repairing instead of replacing

Belt-tightening consumers have fuelled a worldwide trend of repairing and reusing. Brands such as Nokia, Nike and Zara have joined in, creating tools and services to help extend the life of the products they offer. These solutions have included the use of innovative technologies such as 3D scanning, but have mostly been part of the increasingly popular DIY (Do it yourself) movement, where customers can repair products themselves. From the companies’ point of view, such activities help build customer loyalty to the brand.

5. Security at the forefront

In 2023 alone, global e-commerce losses due to online payment fraud are estimated at $48 billion. As a result, companies have been constantly looking for innovative ways to ensure security and increase customer trust during the purchasing process. The continuous development of digital tools and big data makes merchants more vulnerable to potential attacks. For this reason, they have increasingly turned to trusted financial service providers, such as PayPal, to implement smart solutions to help protect customers’ financial data, payments and purchases1. Security tools such as biometric logins, access keys, encryption as well as machine learning and smart devices have become more commonplace, thus translating into increased shopping security.

In summary, in 2023 consumers have not only become more environmentally conscious but have also paid more attention to price and security when shopping. Retailers who met these expectations, while also designing the shopping path to put the customer and their needs first, were able to stay ahead of the competition and increase loyalty to their own brand.

[1] Source: Business Without Borders: Navigating Modern Payment Trends and Consumer Behaviors.
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