The 10 most important e-commerce trends in 2024
The New Year's festivities are over, and the rockets have burned out, so now it's time to take off the safety glasses and put on the reading glasses. We are going to look at the agenda-setting e-commerce trends for anno domini 2024.
The first and biggest trend you probably already guessed. Artificial intelligence. Since ChatGPT broke through the sound barrier and split the world into a before and an after, things have moved incredibly fast in the AI field. Processes are being automated, product texts generated, emails personalized, and your uncle has been helped to write a party song. AI is omnipresent and it's only going to get wilder in 2024. We are in the early stages, where there has been a lot of buzz and not so many concrete solutions, but they are starting to appear. Therefore, one of the exciting things this year will be to follow how you can actually implement and use some of the most promising technologies. One thing is certain: AI is a significant paradigm shift that is in full swing disrupting e-commerce as we know it. Have you started AI in your e-commerce team?
The seriousness of climate change becomes more apparent with each passing year. The constant heat records, the extreme weather, and the many warnings and alarm bells. New solutions must be found to avoid the biggest disasters. Therefore, better and more sustainable production, transport, and trade is a gigantic trend that is popping up everywhere. It is expressed in completely new business forms, where the circular is thought in from the beginning. For example, there will be many more businesses where you rent products for a given time or where repairs or upcycling are considered in the product from the beginning. But sustainability is also expressed in the smaller reductions. Optimization of packaging, delivery by bicycle courier or electric car, reduction of electricity and data consumption. It is also expressed when webshops clearly show sustainability data such as Co2 footprint or recommend green choices. Sustainability is not only gaining ground because of good-heartedness. It is also due to a series of tightening in legislation that concerns everything from the product itself and the entire value chain to the marketing of the goods. So there will also be changes in 2024, simply to comply with the law.
Yes, you may have already thought about it. But aren't AI and sustainability two somewhat opposing tendencies? AI is a power hog and a big data consumer, which in most cases increases the climate footprint for companies. The amount of data that needs to be crunched for the language models is enormous and it creates red-hot servers. The new technology should ideally help us reach the climate goals, but right now AI is helping to turn up the power consumption. We live in a paradoxical age, where some of the biggest trends are opposing. We have a big focus on sustainability, but the year's high jumper in e-commerce analyses is ultrafast fashion brands like Chinese SHEIN. It is important to take into account when we talk about trends. Development does not only move in one direction and contradictions can certainly exist at the same time. It therefore requires that you take an active stance on the complex challenges and choices you face.
4. Responsibility and trust
A seriousness has moved into the spirit of the times. Climate, war, and crises are setting in and we are beginning to demand greater responsibility. "Someone" must do something, and "someone" is also ourselves. It becomes more important to stand up for your values and act according to your convictions. This of course comes from stricter legislation and greater demands for ESG reporting, but consumers are also making greater demands and have become aware of concepts like greenwashing. It is no longer enough to put a green sticker on a product and call it sustainable. It requires persistent and diligent efforts to build trust. It requires actions that go beyond a campaign period. Trust also becomes even more important to build in a period where AI can generate almost anything in a disturbingly short time. Images, videos, texts, websites, and voices - everything can be generated. So, how much of what you see can you trust? Should AI-generated content be declared? (The images in this article, for example, are made with great help from AI). Trust is also technical and measurable parameters that Google uses when they rank pages in their search results. Sender integrity becomes a larger and more significant part of SEO, so if you want to be high on page 1 in 2024, you need to be trustworthy. You will be working with taking responsibility and creating trust in 2024. Because there really isn't anyone who can sneak around it anymore.
5. Content-based Commerce
You may have heard it before: Content is King. And that hasn't changed. Good content is alive and well. Especially when it inspires, entertains, or helps customers. It has become more expensive and harder to advertise new customers into your universe, so it is alpha and omega that they trade with you again and again. And one of the ways to higher customer lifetime value goes through content. By creating a strong inspiration universe, a knowledge bank, or something completely different, you can get customers to show up at the virtual shop windows again and again. People love to cultivate their interests and if you can build a community or a niche media for your core customers, you ensure that they keep coming back. It also has the advantage that it lets you make retail media, where you sell virtual shelf space to advertisers who want to get in touch with your audience.
6. Quick Commerce
Now it gets paradoxical again. We have just pointed to content that you immerse yourself in, but there are several currents in e-commerce. It has to be quick to trade. So fast that your phone has almost predicted what you want to buy before you do it. Quick Commerce is about mobility and dynamics. It's about being able to trade on the go. It's about, with as few presses as possible, being able to have a click & collect item ready for pickup in the store you're heading to. Quick Commerce is about seeing a style on an influencer and putting the clothes in the basket a moment later. Later in the evening, you have the package in your hands thanks to same-day delivery. Quick Commerce is the barrier-free and frictionless path between you and your new favorite product.
7. Short form video
TikTok. Reels. Quick vertical videos are here to be seen. They have moved into our social media and consciousness with their scrollability and endless stream of dopamine. In 2024, we will not see less of them. Video content will take up much more space. Both on social, but also very much in e-commerce. Videos will move into the content universes on e-commerce sites, but also on the PDPs, so we can see tutorials and testimonials directly on the product page. There has long been video content on the pages, but now it will be more optimized for mobile, scrollable, and cut after trends. TikTok is also becoming a more and more significant search engine especially among the younger segments. It poses completely new demands on SEO and provides a new entry point to your products, where video content will be the very first contact point.
8. Virtual Shop Assistants
Yes, we have talked about AI in general, but there are also some specific initiatives on the way that are hard not to delve deeper into. We have all met a chatbot on webshops. Sometimes it went well, and then you got nice help, but that's certainly not how it went every time. You quickly hit a question that the bot simply couldn't handle. The new AI models don't have that problem in the same way. They are much better at answering all types of inquiries and that opens up for a new type of e-commerce experience, where a virtual assistant can take you by the hand as your personal shopper. The bot will be able to draw on e.g. customer club data and previous purchases and make predictive personalization, so it largely hits the products you didn't even know you wanted. It will be a more personal and curated shopping experience than scrolling and filtering on endless PLPs when the bot comes with three sharp recommendations in your preferred cut. Even wilder is that the bot doesn't necessarily hide in a chat window at the bottom of the screen, but is incorporated into the search field, so you can ask your questions more directly.
9. Zero party data
Third-party data is on its way out. Google Chrome is soon closing the cookie jar and more browsers are following suit. Therefore, it has never been more important to own your own data than now. Your customer data is one of your most important resources because it is the raw material in personalization, AI, and retail media. Zero Party Data is all the data your customers voluntarily leave to you because they experience that they get value when they do so. Therefore, good opportunities for data collection and data activation are in high demand this year. It requires that you create strong loyalty programs and provide incentives so that you get the business-critical marketing permissions. It is easy to state that it is important to collect data. It is immediately more difficult to create the incentives and structures that make your customers happily give data to you. It requires customer clubs and meaningful added value otherwise you will not get people to contribute to your data gold mine.
10. Composable without the complete patchwork
Composable architecture has long been the preferred and recommended approach to making state-of-the-art e-commerce. It provides the ultimate freedom and the opportunity to choose technology according to a best-of-breed principle. And it is still true. But there are also certain challenges in total composable, where all systems come from different suppliers. The systems can update skewed, so they no longer match each other. You may end up using disproportionately many tokens on API calls and disproportionately much time on communication and coordination with many suppliers. At the same time, you also become vulnerable to supplier bankruptcies or sudden price increases. Therefore, the trend for 2024 is to maintain the freedom and best-of-breed thinking from composable architecture, but to see parts of its tech stack as core products that should form a foundation the rest is built on. It creates greater security, while still providing the opportunity for composable agility.
Thank you for reading!
We have been all around Bizzkit and talked to our leading e-commerce experts to look into the crystal ball. Therefore, we are also very excited that you wanted to read along. You can get updates and examples of best practices within the mentioned trends and more tips and trends in our newsletter, which we send about once a month. You can join right here.