In this solo cast, Luigi - Founder and CEO of Calashock Commerce - talks you through the 10 ecommerce trends for 2023 every merchant should be considering as part of their ecommerce strategy.
Starting with sustainability, Luigi covers both on-site and off-site trends including personalisation, social commerce and customer service.
Hello, welcome to a new episode of a new season of The BIG, commerce Podcast. My name is Luigi, I'm your host. I'm the CEO and founder of Calashock Commerce, an Elite BigCommerce partner with offices in London, Toronto and Talinn, working with B2B and B2C brands throughout North America and Europe. I wanted to kick off this episode with 10 trends that we've identified in ecommerce for 2023. So let's get to it. So after one of the hottest summers on record in the northern hemisphere, we're all too familiar with the conversation around climate change, and sustainability, and eco friendliness. So really, one of the most important trends is sustainability. And we're not just talking about the products that are sold, whether the ingredients used are you know, responsibly sourced, etc. But we're also talking around things like packaging material, box sizes. So if you think about it, the bigger the boxes, the fewer boxes can fit in the van, which means a few deliveries a courier can make, which means more vehicles on the road. So review your packaging. Is there a way that you can remove the void filler? Make use of smaller boxes? It may mean having to keep more sizes of boxes, but removing the void filler, and making the boxes smaller, will pay dividends in terms of how you're perceived from a sustainability perspective. But not just in terms of the packaging. So you know, using cardboard boxes, and maybe paper tape, but also couriers and delivery methods. So is there a courier that can work with you who is focused on sustainability, and, eco friendly vehicles and delivery methods, because the study has shown that consumers will actually be prepared to either wait longer, so a longer delivery schedule, or possibly even pay more, if they know that the delivery method that they've selected is eco friendly. It's really important thing for consumers, so make sure that you're making the most of this - it's not jumping on the bandwagon, it's not a marketing thing, it is taking responsibility for the environment and for the planet. And your customers will thank you by repeat purchases and loyalty. So another one to kick off, which is not so positive is inflation and the economic downturn that we're seeing in the UK and a lot of European countries and in North America as well. So what does this mean? With inflation, you know, kind of kicking in, so prices going higher and disposable income getting tighter, customers are going to be a lot more price conscious. And this will mean that they're going to research a lot more before they make a purchase. So make sure that you're giving your customers the information that they need to be able to make an informed research process, but also an informed decision. So this is including things like product information, pricing obviously, if there are any discounts or promotions available, make sure that they are visible. And also delivery methods - do not leave it until the checkout page to advertise your shipping costs or delivery times because that will be a factor in determining if your customer is going to buy from you or not. So you're going to be competing against marketplaces, so possibly reconsider your marketplace strategy as well. But price is going to be key. However, there is also the value based buyer, but they're still going to want to make sure that they have the correct information. And furthermore, having the correct information for your products and or services, whichever you're selling on ecommerce, will also mean that your rankings in Google should be higher because you are investing time in making sure that your product descriptions your product information is up to date, is possibly unique as well, so it's also an opportunity to make sure that you're optimising your website for SEO and customer experience. Number three is social commerce. Been around for a long time, but we're starting to see social media companies really start to harness the commerce element of social commerce. So, with your e commerce website, make sure that you're integrating with your social media profiles, whether it's on Instagram, on Facebook, on Pinterest or Tik Tok. And remember the demographics of these social platforms is also changing. Gone are the days when tick tock was for teenage girls. Now I think one of the biggest increases in adoption in Tik Tok has been seen from adults who are 35-40 years plus So if you're not on there, consider possibly taking on a presence on on these various channels. But if you are on there, make sure you've integrated your ecommerce operation, so that you're making it very easy not just to market your products, but also for your customers to be able to buy them. Sticking around the subject of social commerce is user generated content, UGC, this can be anything from reviews and ratings on social media websites or independent review websites such as Trustpilot, through to the product reviews that are embedded on your website. So start making use of those because UGC gives visitors the confidence that both the product and the merchant have gained social proof - other people have used them, and they're going to tell you their story. So if it's negative, get on that. But if it's positive, you need to be telling everybody, you need to be telling everybody what you're doing right. Don't kind of take for granted that it's obvious what you do you need to work hard to convince potential customers that this is the product for them, and you are the merchant that they should be buying from. So user generated content, make sure that you're using as much as possible, embedding it on your website. I'm not the biggest fan of embedding Instagram feeds and other social media feeds on websites, only because I think it could potentially be an exit from your website, but making sure that that UGC is embedded throughout your website, so customers do not have a seed of doubt that you are genuine and the product is worth the money in which has been marketed. And oftentimes we hear negative reviews not just around the product, but also how incidents and issues were managed by the merchant. So I think a lot of customers are sympathetic to the fact that a merchant cannot control everything from product quality, to delivery quality to what time an order is going to be arriving on a doorstep. But I think really what can make or break a relationship is how those issues are managed. So make sure that if you do receive emails, or DMs or phone calls, or live chat messages, that you are addressing them as soon as possible, and systems like Gorgias can make it very easy for you to centralise all those different channels. So you're not having to remember to go into three or four different social media platforms, and then check your emails and check your live chat, SMS potentially as well, if you're on things like WhatsApp - that can really not just humanise the interaction, because when a customer is getting in touch with with a brand and somebody responds, and they can start putting a face to that name, will already start to strengthen the relationship. But it will mean that actually you're able to better serve them in future. And again, that gives them confidence to say, 'You know what, I had a problem, but it was resolved, they were on it, they value my business'. You only have to look at what Amazon are doing. Amazon leading the way in so many things, but they set the bar - whether it's returns, whether it's product damages. Unfortunately, merchants, you're going to have to follow that particular way of doing things and, love them or loathe them with Amazon, if you really want to compete and make sure that the customer stays loyal to you, rather than the marketplace, then this is the way to do that, to make sure that they know that if they've got a problem, someone will get back to them, and not just get back to them, but back to them with a solution. Personalization is number six. So this isn't just on site personalization from things like search and product recommendations. So systems like Klevu, Searchspring, Nosto, some of the partners that I've worked with, over the years, make some really good products or have really good products rather, that make the experience personal to the user, but also make sure that you're able to merchandise products in a more efficient and effective way. So we're coming up to Halloween, and one of our merchants, they do a lot of products that centre on Halloween and would manually merchandise those products leading up to Halloween, and then after Halloween would then again, manually re-merchandise them. Integrating a search and merch system like Klevu using boost scores, they were able to automate that. So it's really important that you're making it easy for your customers, not just to find the products - so like an enhanced search with things like synonyms and stuff - but also that you're making sure that the products that you bring in for the various marketing-based events throughout the year, whether it's Halloween, whether it's Christmas, whether it's a particular sports event that's may be happening, that those are getting the visibility that you need them to in order to sell the stock that you you brought in. But again, if we start thinking about off-site as well, so things like email marketing and paid advertising, so make sure that your marketing is really, really tailored to your target persona. So don't do generic marketing, don't do generic paid campaigns, don't do generic email campaigns. Systems like Klaviyo can start using data that you've got on the users if they've placed orders with you, and start to show targeted personalised information that's unique to that customer, to that recipient. So personalization, not just on site with search and merch, but also with marketing campaigns, such as email and paid search. It's a benefit to the customer because you're making life easier for them. But it's also a benefit to you, because your marketing Dollars, your marketing Pounds, your marketing Euros, are gonna go just that bit further, because they're more cost effective and efficient. And marketing is all about ROI. Number seven is security. So data security, when we speak to prospects and customers is still not necessarily in the top five requirements when they're evaluating platforms and vendors. It should be because inadvertent data breaches can be costly, not just because you will lose the customers whose data has been breached, but you could also get fined. So make sure that if you're using a SaaS platform that they've got security measures and various protections in place. But if you're self hosting, speak to whoever's managing your server and make sure that it is as impenetrable as possible. So an up to date SSL, password complexity, make sure you're protecting your database as well. The likelihood of a DDoS attack as well is reduced, so using systems like CloudFlare, to protect websites is absolutely vital. So security, and if you can then demonstrate that on your website because you've invested in that security, and their data IS safe and their data IS secure, again, will lead you to have higher conversion rates and an increase in sales. Number eight is mobile commerce. Mobile comm has been around for a very long time, but they're still latant adoption in terms of the latest technologies and trends. One of the biggest things that I find is still not being - well actually isn't even understood by a lot of merchants- is PWA, Progressive Web Apps. So PWA, in essence, is a hybrid between a website and a native app. It's very fast loading. It's super SEO friendly. It's downloaded onto the user's smartphone, which means it can also be browsed offline. You can do push notifications as well. And so really PWAs - progressive web apps - should be on everyone's radar, and you should be looking at systems like Styla, like Shogun, to be implementing that into your strategy and making sure that your website isn't just mobile responsive and more about mobile optimised, but actually running on a fast system like a PWA. Another reason for PWA over native apps is that PWA is are indexable by search engines, and secondly, over mobile responsive websites, is that you are really tailoring the solution to an app-esque experience. So you should find that most of your visits will be on mobile, but most your conversions are on desktop, that seems to be the trend amongst a lot of merchants that come to us with the requirements for a new website. And it's our job to make sure that we get higher conversions based not necessarily on what platform they're on, but overall, whether they're a mobile tablet or desktop. So really invest in a mobile experience on things like a PWA so that if you're getting most visits on a mobile, you're also getting most conversions on mobile. Because what the customer is telling you there is I don't trust myself to be able to press the Buy Now button because I may have missed something and I'd rather do on a desktop where I can see the whole website without having to have that seed of doubt wonder if if they've ordered the right product or the right quantity or the right shipping method or whatever. So mobile commerce, absolutely here to stay. we're way behind the trend in general anyway, but you know, you could be one of the early adopters, if you like in terms of PWA because in five years time, most websites will be on a PWA framework. Number nine is linked to sustainability, which is Recommerce. We're seeing a lot of high street names now starting to - even luxury fashion brands - start talking about Recommerce. Recommerce, the resale of products, obviously we've got marketplaces like eBay that are specialised in this, although they've kind of shifted as well over the last few years, but this is super, super important and is a potential secondary channel for some merchants, if it's possible to Recommerce your products. So evaluate Recommerce. Again, it's another notch around sustainability, you're helping your customers, you're potentially also increasing the lifetime value and the bond that your customer has in the relationship with its chosen merchants. So absolutely, kind of research Recommerce if it's something that your industry has already adopted or can adopt, and if you can, harness it. Last but not least, which in essence could be a summary of the nine points above is Customer Centricity. You really have to put the customer at the centre of everything you do, because at the end of the day, it is they who decide whether your sales go up or go down - you work for your customers, not shareholders, not suppliers, because it is your customers who will pay your bills ultimately. So that's everything from making sure that they've got as much freedom and choice as possible, do not constrict them to going down a single route that you have to pay with this payment method, and you have to choose the single delivery method, and you've got to make it really difficult to buy. You need to give them choice, you need to give them freedom, and they need to be in control of the experience. So payment methods is probably one of the first things to make sure that using things like PayPal, which not just increase trust, visibly they increase trust as well if you demonstrate the you accept Paypal, those websites are perceived to be of a high trust rate than the ones that don't - even though they might still accept PayPal, this was in a study - but also potentially considere Buy Now Pay Later bit of a dodgy one, some merchants don't like Buy Now Pay Later and they don't want to contribute to somebody's potential personal debt issues, but at the end of the day, if your industry is doing it and that's what your customer is used to, then you've got to have that serious conversation around that. One click checkouts, digital wallets, you need to give choice to your customers. Same with deliveries as well. So, gone are the days where it was either free or fast. Nowadays, it is pretty much free and fast. But again, remember those sustainability issues that we spoke about at the beginning - if there is a way that you can demonstrate that the particular shipping method is more sustainable, more eco friendly, make sure you're marketing it and you'll probably find you could charge. It will probably take longer, it might cost you a bit more, but at least you're not competing against the ones that want fast and free. But you're giving the customer choice - they're choosing do I want it tomorrow and not worry about the impact it has on the environment, or can I wait three days, and you know, feel good that I've actually made a contribution in reducing carbon footprint or emissions or whatever it is that you marketed it as. Returns options, again, are super important. Now there's a lot of psychology goes in here and a study has shown that most items, I think like 80, or 90% of returns, are within two weeks. So you're actually in quite a good position to be able to increase the returns window from say 30 days to 60 or 90 days. Now that may have a you know, an impact on on your quarter financial numbers, etc, if you if you go into kind of that depth, but really if 80 to 90% of returns are within two weeks, all those additional weeks that you opening up that window are actually just it's a way of marketing to give the customer the confidence to say, well, you know, what, if I forget or if I go on holiday, or whatever I can potentially return, but you will still find that the majority of customers will return items within two weeks, because they want their money back, not because they want to leave it to the last minute and pull one over you. So again, giving various return options, and if you have to charge, so be it. I think you know, now we're getting to the point where again, we're going to start accepting paying for returns. We may not like it, but it's going to become the norm. So giving people options, and I've seen merchants that use memberships to be able to do free returns - a bit like Amazon Prime but on the other side. So, if you're in fashion, for example, and you do have a higher returns rate, then, possibly consider something like that. But one of the best ways to really become customer centric is to understand what works, what doesn't work. What do your customers like about you and what they dislike about you. What could you do better? Because one of the things that I actually love is you don't know what you don't know. So when we speak to merchants, one of the things that we always recommend is NPS campaigns, so Net Promoter Score campaigns. Most people don't actually know what these are, but you will receive them - you've received an email that says from a rating of zero to from a scale of zero to 10, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend. And this is skewed really towards getting a bad score because it's not evenly split. If you score nine to 10 you are a promoter, you are actively telling people 'if you're looking for this product, you've got to go to this website and buy they were awesome'. Whether they are you know, sustainability focused or great pricing, great service, fast delivery, whatever the great things are, you'll find that the customers that the respondents are giving you a score of nine to 10, they are promoted. The ones that are giving you seven to eight, they're passive. So if somebody asks them, they might recommend you, but they're not fussed - they are nether here not there. Anyone that rates you from zero to six is a detractor, which means they will actively tell people to not buy from you. So it's not as clear cut, but the great thing is you get feedback. So why did you only give us a score of seven? Because the packaging was reused or the product arrived damaged, and there was no protective packaging to where to make sure that wasn't the case. Because delivery was slow. Because you didn't reply to my questions, the live chat was there, but no one responded. So it's really good feedback. On the flip side, if you do something really well, and you see that a lot of customers are choosing you because of these 1, 2, 3 reasons, that's an excuse for you to start marketing that to make sure that other people see that it's really obvious, and really clear that you are good in this. So NPS scores - Google it - there are plenty of systems out there, but personally, I will be doing this on a quarterly basis to your customers, maybe once every six months, at a minimum, to understand and monitoring if the NPS score is going up or down. So really get laser focused on making sure that you're putting the customer at the centre of what you do from pricing, from experience, from customer experience, to site speed to everything, just your customer is absolute king. And this is obviously been said since the dawn of time. But it's never been more important now, where customers, their priorities are shifting, and you need to understand what is it that will make them tick, what was it that will make them buy a few every time they have the need for the products that you sell. So there we have it, we'll just do a quick recap of the 10 trends for 2023 in e-commerce, sustainability, very price conscious buyers because of inflation and economic downturn, social commerce, user generated content (UGC), customer service, personalization in terms of on site experience but also marketing, data security or website security, mobile commerce, ReCommerce and customer centricity. I hope you've enjoyed this quick rundown of the 10 trends that we've identified for 2023. Let us know if you've got any other ideas or suggestions. If you enjoy our episodes, please leave us a rating on iTunes, Spotify, whichever platform you're listening in, and make sure you're following us on social media. And until next time, thank you very much. Bye bye