In 2023, technology and customer personalization are trending topics within the ecommerce industry. Many brands are implementing augmented reality or virtual reality (AR/VR) to improve the overall shopping experience. AV/VR also offers more of a personalized, in-depth experience that allows shoppers to visualize the product and helps the decision to buy it.

Learn more about our ecommerce predictions for 2023 in our Future of Returns report

Other trends include more engagement, like chatbots that quiz customers on their needs and social media shopping, in which the shopper can instantly purchase items through an Instagram post or Youtube video. Additionally, in 2023, providing multiple ways to buy items will be driving sales. Options like “buy it now, pay later” or cryptocurrency are becoming more popular. Lastly, automation will be key, especially when it comes to returns. 

Here are the top 10 trends in ecommerce that will lead the industry in 2023:

1. AV/VR and visual commerce

When it comes to online sales, returns are always high compared to brick-and-mortar purchases. Apparel transactions are 12% more likely to be returned. To overcome these obstacles, many brands are turning to AV/VR technology or visual commerce, tools that offer lifestyle photos of the product, 360 degree views, the ability to virtually try-on items, and videos that show the product off. 

61% of shoppers said they would be more willing to shop from a company that uses VR technology. Not only does this remove the uncertainty when purchasing a new product, but it further engages the shopper in the buying experience. Someone shopping for a piece of furniture can visualize how it would look in the room. If a clothing size isn’t universal across different styles, a shopper can try on items to make sure they will fit. This will increase your customer’s confidence in your products and reduce the risk for returns down the road. 

Big-name brands like Nike, Amazon, and Warby Parker are investing more in virtual technology. While expensive at first, it’s a solid way to increase sales—shoppers who used AR technology converted to two or three more than those who didn’t, with 40% less likely to start a return. Use augmented photography technology that easily shows color or size options. It’s innovative, while also being efficient and cost effective because you no longer have to spend money on photoshoots.

2. Immersive technology

Consider implementing additional tools like “visual search”. This lets shoppers take a picture of a product anywhere, then use Google or your brand’s app to see if a similar item is available for purchase.

Not only is this type of technology instant gratification, but it personalizes the consumer’s experience, targeting them and connecting them to exactly what they want. It also allows you to collect information about their preferences, offering suggestions for like-minded products, while building a relationship that turns them into future shoppers.

3. Voice shopping

When it comes to convenience, many shoppers are using voice-activated speakers like Alexa for shopping. This type of transaction can be beneficial to shoppers because it is more individualized. When a buyer makes a purchase, the speaker can suggest items to pair with the product. Voice shopping saves time and allows you to gather data on your customers’ shopping habits. You can also learn more about their lifestyle to make future recommendations.

Want to be able to aggregate all your customer communication into one place? Book a demo with Loop to find out why tools like Gorgias might be a great fit.

4. Social media shopping

In the present day, people spend upwards of 3-4.5 hours a day on their phones and up to 100 minutes a day watching videos. Engaging with shoppers through mobile commerce is a great way to increase sales. Allow clickable links in videos or social media posts, which allow the shoppers to easily buy the items featured.  

This creates more engagement. Rather than encouraging them to click on a link elsewhere, they can simply click on the photo or video and instantly buy the item, without having to exit from the app and navigate to your website.

Because younger generations use their phone so much, targeting them will increase growth dramatically. A recent survey showed 80% of young shoppers (ages 25-40) shopped mostly online. Since ecommerce is taking the place of brick-and-mortar shopping experiences, companies can use multiple platforms like Facebook and Instagram to sell their product in creative ways. 

5. Live shopping

Encourage buyers to share their experiences through social media posts, reviews, or even videos. Not only will it increase brand loyalty, but it will show shoppers how they can use the product themselves. Even better, it makes the buyers feel valued, which increases retention. 

You can also ensure retention by holding giveaways or offering discounts in return for sharing live reviews. Influencers are becoming a successful resource when connecting with shoppers. Through influencer’s videos, their followers feel like they personally know the creator. When the influencer suggests a product, consumers trust their opinion and are more likely to buy the product.

6. Personalization is key

People want an experience that fits their personal brand and ethos. When a shopper first navigates to your website, key into what they’re looking for so you can make recommendations. Chatbots are a great way to provide customers with information instantly while saving time for your support team. It also can supplement the experience of shopping in person with store associates. By gathering insight from shoppers on what they want or need from a product, chatbots can provide recommendations. Gathering data such as how clothes usually fit a shopper or styles they prefer will help you make additional recommendations.

However, be careful not to encroach on privacy and comply with data privacy regulations. Use zero-party data to your benefit, by collecting as much information as shoppers are willing to share with you to improve your product, sales, and overall buying experience.

Read more: How to use user-generated content to lower your return rates

7. Ethical and sustainable practices

Many people are prioritizing a company’s ethics and sustainability practices above all else. Making sure you are transparent about your production process to show shoppers you care about their values. 

Many companies are also implementing a reselling section on their website, where they feature second-hand or refurbished items available at a lower price. It’s both environmentally friendly and makes your items more accessible to all types of shoppers.

8. Third-party financing

This year, shoppers spent more thoughtfully. With an impending recession, people are tightening their wallets and considering products before purchasing them. Third-party financing options, which offers payment plans reduces post-buyer regret because people can pay off their purchase a little at a time. This allows them to spend money on higher ticket items without regretting the price. 

Buy now, pay later was especially popular this past holiday season. During Cyber Week, the period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, buy now, pay it later sales increased by 120% compared to before the holidays. It’s also a safer option because unlike credit card debt, it has little to no interest. 

Over 60% of people said they preferred this option to a credit card. A high majority of younger consumers in the Generation Z and millennial generation preferred this because of the way they saw parents struggle with debt.

9. Alternative currencies

Companies are now offering multiple payment options at checkout. Aside from traditional payment systems like Paypal, Stripe, Google Pay, and Apple Pay, many companies are turning to alternative forms of currency, like cryptocurrency. Having this as an option will help reach more shoppers while saving money on exchange rates when it comes to international sales. Crypto payments are beneficial because they have an enhanced security layer that cuts down on the risk of fraud. In 2022, 3.6 million US adults used cryptocurrency to make purchases, an increase of 68.6% from the previous year.

Along with this comes many discussions of the metaverse, an online space that allows people to shop, trade, and travel. It also features a digital shop where customers can interact with products using virtual reality. Being a part of this trend will target your more tech savvy consumers.

10. Return automation

No matter what, returns will happen. Making sure it’s an easy, positive experience will ensure you have a repeat customer. Use tools like an AI chatbot to help make the process more self-service and efficient. Most customers prefer a chatbot compared to having to call a support person on the phone. Not only will the customer be happy because they’re getting instant results but it will make your support team’s job that much easier.

When a shopper starts a return, offering the ability to instantly exchange the item for a different size or style is a great way to avoid losing money on a return. It also ensures retention as it shows a shopper that you understand what they’re looking for.

However, in 2023, customers are expecting even more from the return process. A recent Shopify report found that 70% of shoppers are willing to pay for more convenient, premium return experiences.

Partnering with the right returns app will help build on this experience and increase customer retention. Book a demo with Loop today.