Goodbye ‘era of excess,’ hello innovation: 7 experts predict the future of eCommerce
Turbulent. Unstable. Unpredictable.
This year hasn’t been everything we’d hoped it would be. Between juggling rigorous privacy policies and surging inflation, many eCommerce businesses took a hit over the last 12 months. With Forbes even warning of a great customer acquisition crisis, it’s no surprise that experts used the above words to describe the state of eCommerce in 2022.
But the potential of eCommerce is limitless, and advancements in social commerce, personalization, and AR experiences are ushering in a new era of innovation like we’ve never seen before. This last year wasn’t all doom and gloom, either: eCommerce surpassed $5 trillion in global sales for the first time ever.
Read Also: 12 tech trends redefining eCommerce
As we look ahead to a new year and a new chapter for eCommerce, our team spoke with seven leaders in the space to hear their predictions for 2023. Below are their top forecasts, plus tips for future-proofing your business—starting today.
The ‘era of cheap money’ will die with 2022
“As 2022 comes to an end, so will the era of cheap capital—which, for the last decade, has been fueled by near-zero interest rates. During times like these, we tend to see a lot of cheap copycats or people offering the same services for half a penny less. Technology becomes less about solving someone's problems and advancing society and more about how you can get rich quick.
But looking into 2023, I’m excited to see creativity flourish once more. Capital will be more expensive—but, as the saying goes, constraint is the mother of creativity. Some of the greatest inventions and entrepreneurs have found their feet during uncertain times, when resources were especially constrained. That is when we, humans, do our best work. I’m excited for all of us to get back to the good work of producing genuine value.” - Nima Elyassi-Rad, head of business development, Shippo
The old DTC playbook will be replaced
“I think we’ll leave behind the ‘DTC playbook.’ The dust is starting to settle from the pandemic boom, and we’re seeing consumer shopping habits shift back to more in-person shopping. Meanwhile, merchants are left battling data privacy changes—which have influenced an almost complete rewrite of the DTC playbook—as well as inflation, higher shipping costs, and supply chain issues. Brands that thrived during the pandemic are struggling to keep afloat.
Now, businesses will need to figure out what works for them uniquely, rather than following a formula that worked for those coming before them. They’ll need to look at their data, talk to customers, and test different distribution channels. This also means that more brands are going to invest in customer service to improve the experience for their buyers from start to finish—and to ultimately improve customer retention.” - Alex McPeak, content marketing manager, Klaviyo
Shopping experiences will be frictionless
“Advancements in technology and logistics will continue to drive eCommerce towards zero-friction shopping experiences. Online merchants will increasingly use data and machine learning to adapt their catalogs and storefronts in order to increase the likelihood of a purchase and make shopping more seamless.
At the same time, content publishers, social networks, eCommerce platforms, and logistics companies will work together to minimize friction between customer intent and product delivery. For example, consumers will increasingly be able to see a social media post that they like—and purchase the entire look in real time and receive it at their doorsteps within a couple of hours.” - Oren Inditzky, VP of online stores, Wix
SMS will become a legitimate sales channel
“At Privy, we already see more merchants adopting SMS as a sales channel, even using it as a ‘VIP’ channel through which they can send exclusive offers and early-access to new products.
Although SMS is still relatively new for many online stores, more business owners will get comfortable with texting their customers. In fact, the latest data tells us that between 2021 to 2022, there was a 23% jump in consumers subscribed to at least one SMS marketing program. That number should increase after this year’s Cyber Weekend.” - Devin Pickell, growth marketing manager, Privy
Mobile shopping will be the new norm
“We’ve already seen mobile shopping take the eCommerce world by storm. But 2023 is going to be an even bigger turning point for mobile and digital personalization—partially because of advancements in AI, crypto, and the metaverse.
Sellers will be faced with the biggest challenge yet: understanding the user journey across every channel and click—not just by the last click—and engaging their customers accordingly. Just like how Google switched its algorithm several years ago to prioritize mobile-first indexing, sellers will need to switch their mindsets to think mobile-first when creating their websites, building their marketing plans, and understanding their customers.” - Maria Liakhova, product marketing manager, Wix Payments
Customer-centric tech will shake up the retail world
“The technology and trends that blossomed in 2022 will grow even more in the new year. This includes features like virtual try-on and smart-home technology integration, which benefits sellers and consumers.
Advancements in retail technology will make shopping even easier and more convenient for consumers. Brands that are quick to effectively adopt new technology will stand out against competitors and build stronger brand loyalty and customer retention.” - Greg Mercer, CEO and founder, Jungle Scout
Customer interactions will be less robotic
“Hopefully, the end of 2022 will mean the near-extinction of cold, robotic customer interactions. There are so many new shopping features and channels at our disposal, it only makes sense that brands will hunker down and focus on creating the most personalized, interactive shopping experiences possible.
Customers are shopping everywhere. To name a few exciting channels that we saw emerge and gain momentum this year: TikTok, livestream shopping, video ads, and m-commerce. The ball’s now in our court to seize the opportunity and deliver seamless omnichannel experiences.” - Josh Greenway, product manager, inkFrog
So, what’s a seller to do in 2023?
With the above in mind, our experts offer some key advice for merchants heading into 2023.
“Protect ya neck” -“Pay attention to unit economics more than ever before. Don't overproduce across every SKU and be left with bloated inventory on your hands. Instead, double down on SKUs with the best unit economics and highest sales velocity. Drive customer loyalty programs to encourage the best behavior from your best customers. And of course, diversify your carrier mix to limit the cost of shipping,” says Elyassi-Rad.
Leverage your data - “During times of unpredictability, data is one of your biggest assets. The sellers and brands with the best grasp of insights—market opportunities and consumer preferences—will thrive in the quickly changing eCommerce landscape. By putting insights into action, you’ll be able to better market to customer segments, build brand loyalty, and successfully embrace an omnichannel approach to solidify your space in the market,” says Mercer.
Prioritize retention - “Take a close look at your post-purchase customer experience. Assess whether or not it effectively nurtures customers and encourages them to return to make another purchase. Many merchants put the majority of their energy into optimizing the conversion path to get new shoppers to make a first purchase, then leave them hanging after the fact. But this is not a sustainable or scalable strategy,” says McPeak.
Think outside of the box - “Whether it’s deciding to adopt an SMS marketing strategy or simply launching a new TikTok channel, get out of your comfort zone and take calculated risks,” says Pickell.
Build a mobile-first shopping experience - “When building a website, think of the mobile purchasing experience first. Your catalog and checkout should work seamlessly on mobile devices. For example, include payment methods that allow shoppers to pay with mobile wallets in just a few clicks. And when it comes to customer service, sell and talk to your users via all relevant channels,” says Liakhova.
Provide excellent customer service - “Use tools that help you nail your inventory and product placements across multiple sales channels. Even with a rise in in-person shopping, customers will continue to shop cross-platform before making a purchase—so you need to be prepared,” says Greenway.
Think omnichannel - “An omnichannel approach creates a consistent brand experience and a seamless shopping journey, while also multiplying your chances of acquiring new customers. To make your life easier, use an eCommerce platform that allows you to automatically sync your catalogs across your online store, physical stores, social media, and marketplaces,” says Inditzky.
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Allison Lee Editor, Wix for eCommerce
Allison is the editor for the Wix eCommerce blog, with several years of experience reporting on eCommerce news, strategies, and founder stories.