In 2023, e-commerce and marketplace sellers faced another year brimming with hurdles. Economic uncertainty loomed large despite gradual easing inflation as the holiday season approached.
Still, would consumers, burdened by record-breaking credit card debt, scale back on holiday spending?
The economy was just one of many challenges e-commerce sellers and retailers had to overcome in 2023. However, if there is one constant in e-commerce, the industry is ever-evolving, shaped by technological advancements and shifting consumer behaviors.
Hence, we annually seek insights from industry insiders to predict what lies ahead in e-commerce for the new year. These experts, well-versed in their respective fields, keenly understand trends and opportunities within their industry segments.
At the end of this feature, I (Richard) and Dave, co-founders of eSeller365.com, will share our perspectives on what online marketplace sellers should be aware of as we enter 2024.
But first, let’s hand it over to our industry colleagues with their e-commerce predictions and opportunities for growth in the forthcoming 12 months.
Over the last year, solopreneurs and small business merchants have experienced the increasingly critical role e-commerce and effective advertising play in driving business success. One trend we can expect to see gaining even more traction in 2024 is solopreneurs and small businesses investing in customizable, nuanced advertising.
Due to evolving consumer needs, new technologies and the rapid rise of social shopping, among other trends – consumers are constantly inundated with product ads and recommendations, and they are heavily influenced by them.
54% of buyers have said they felt more confident about their gift choices when they were chosen from ads, and sellers reported a substantial uptick in product sales when utilizing eBay’s ad solutions, experiencing 50% more sales on average when using Promoted Listings Advanced. Access to advertising tools is a valuable benefit for eBay sellers; 76% report that on the platform, they have been able to reach net new markets.
Mastering the usage of advanced ad tools will continue to be important for smaller sellers, as investments in AI are creating a more level field for small and large companies.
As reported by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC), nearly half of small businesses started using AI tools in the past year, and 93% of small business owners agree that these tools offer cost-effective solutions that drive savings and improve profitability.
In 2024, marketplaces like eBay will continue to prioritize enhancing their ad portfolios to simplify experiences for smaller sellers through more automations and smart targeting powered by AI capabilities.
Marketplaces grew to nearly $385 billion in sales this year, representing more than a third of total retail e-commerce sales, according to Insider Intelligence. We saw this acceleration firsthand as Walmart Marketplace achieved its two biggest sales days ever. This growth will continue into 2024, but as the industry matures, I expect to see marketplaces refining their capabilities to improve seller and customer experiences.
First, we should see a rise in omnichannel marketplaces for sellers with brick-and-mortar stores. These sellers, specifically small and medium-sized businesses, are eager to leverage the e-commerce audience and the functionality that comes with delivery and pickup.
By offering local pickup and delivery, we can send customers to pick up their items directly from a seller’s physical locations or offer same-day delivery through our last-mile delivery network. This capability provides a great customer experience, can help lower fulfillment costs and provides a new way for sellers to convert sales.
Similarly, I expect marketplaces to continue focus on improving fulfillment capabilities for sellers of all sizes, accelerated by adopting AI and other emerging tech like automation. We’ve developed an automated, high-density storage system at Walmart’s next-generation fulfillment centers that power Walmart Fulfillment Services. This new capability streamlines a manual, twelve-step process into just five steps and enables us to fulfill online orders for sellers at exceptional speed and meet customer demand.
I also expect to see the further emergence of niche or specialty offerings on marketplaces. Services like Walmart Restored, which offers like-new refurbished items, inspected and tested by manufacturer-authorized third parties, were successful in 2023.
Other services, like Walmart Business, which helps B2B sellers reach customers shopping for business needs, will emerge as customers seek more tailored experiences for their specific needs. These specialty offerings give customers more options and sellers more ways to reach them.
2023 was a big year for live shopping in the U.S., with many retailers, brands, and individual sellers introducing live shopping as a way to reach new audiences, increase customer engagement, and drive conversions. In 2023, the nascent live shopping market in the U.S. was estimated to bring in $32 billion in sales (Coresight Research), and we anticipate that in 2024, more marketplace sellers will explore live selling strategies as a means to grow their businesses and connect with customers.
With live selling, marketplace sellers are able to showcase their products in an entirely new way that fosters two-way engagement: shoppers have the ability to ask questions about the product’s material or fit, or request a try-on, and sellers can encourage conversations both live and in the comment section by asking shoppers what styles and sizes they’re looking for, or suggesting how to wear a look.
These interactions allow for sellers to forge a more personal relationship with their customers, cultivating a social shopping experience that emulates experiences of shopping in-person. In turn, customers are more likely to make purchases, helping sellers efficiently move inventory and drive conversions in real time.
At Poshmark, we’re committed to introducing new tools that help our sellers run a successful business so they can focus on what matters most – building their brand, serving their customers, scaling their businesses, and ultimately, making more money.
In April 2023, we unveiled Posh Shows, our live shopping product that brings something truly unique to the live shopping landscape: a product that can help anyone – not just celebrities or influencers – be successful with live selling by making it incredibly simple and fun. Posh Shows’ simple, community-centric approach is fueling a continuous growth engine that empowers sellers to succeed, and we believe this way of selling is here to stay.
Online marketplaces will undergo transformative trends in 2024 that will significantly impact solopreneurs, small business merchants, and mega-sellers alike. Staying ahead of these trends will be crucial for success.
Personalized customer experiences: Hyper-personalization will intensify in 2024. Real-time, clickstream personalization as fast as just a few clicks for new visitors will move from the leading edge in 2023 to more standard fare in 2024. Our tech team is hard at work on our newest marketplace, Handmade.com, developing personalization features throughout the site to increase conversions and provide more relevant and interesting products to visitors based on their personal journey.
Artificial intelligence will certainly revolutionize the online shopping experience in 2024. As an example of AI’s pending dominance, at Handmade.com, AI options will soon allow artisans, even in remote regions of the world – for example, tribal artisans in the jungles of Brazil – to quickly and easily present their own creations to the world from their smartphones. This is a gamechanger – poised to make shopping suddenly truly global in most sectors.
Customers will still demand consistent quality control and packing, while international shipping, returns, and marketing aspects will also remain challenging for sellers in most nations. This means that sellers, including many millions of new sellers, will increasingly flock to marketplaces such as Handmade.com – and marketplaces in other sectors – to be able to offer customers a seamless experience. So, specialty and consolidated marketplaces will play an increasing role, globally, for the foreseeable future.
Sustainability and Social Responsibility: Conscious consumerism will become ever more prominent in 2024 and beyond, continuing to expand marketplaces such as ours that focus on social responsibility, fair trade, and environmental accountability. We anticipate this growing movement will prompt many other online marketplaces to finally truly get onboard with prioritizing social responsibility and sustainability – another great win for all.
Generative AI broke advanced technology into mainstream headlines and propelled content generation to the next level in 2023. Generative AI allows merchants to automatically create high-quality, original content optimized for e-commerce and tailored to the specific business’s needs. This content could be applied across all online business interfaces, including storefronts, social media, search engine results, email marketing, and more. However, the AI breakthroughs we have witnessed in 2023 were just beginning.
The upcoming phase in AI is poised to be dominated by machine learning (ML), and it will significantly impact e-commerce for the better. Operating within a continuous data loop process, ML captures customer data, analyzes it, and applies insights to help merchants make store adjustments to enhance the customer experience and conversion.
In other words, it uses customer interactions to constantly evolve the shopping experience to meet shoppers’ growing expectations by providing more personalized, efficient shopping journeys. Tools that were once limited to enterprises will start to be democratized by bringing ML capabilities into the hands of any merchant selling online.
The real breakthrough for merchants will occur when ML and generative AI integrate seamlessly, unleashing real-time optimization capabilities and propelling them to new heights. This synergy will empower merchants to have their generative AI-created content continually and automatically optimized by ML based on real-world analytics in real-time to boost customer satisfaction and conversion rates.
For example, product descriptions are a vital component for successful online sales and they can be a key deciding factor for buyers. With generative AI, merchants can instantly generate high-quality product descriptions, drastically reducing time to market.
Furthermore, the democratization of ML will enable merchants to correlate product sales with the description, empowering them to constantly optimize the content to maximize sales or target specific buyers with customized product descriptions tailored to their preferences.
Businesses now have the opportunity to sell across multiple channels like Shopify, Amazon, and eBay simultaneously.
A recent report we published shows this will continue to be a key priority for small business owners in the new year, with nearly one in five (19%) ranking e-commerce as the number one factor in driving their growth. While this has potential to increase revenue streams, it can also present operational complexities as businesses try to manage inventory and sales across different platforms.
As we continue to see businesses taking this omnichannel approach to e-commerce, in 2024 I believe we’ll see an increase in business owners adopting automated inventory management solutions to help maintain accurate inventory tracking, preventing under and overstocking and ultimately benefiting the bottom line and customer satisfaction.
Rather than making a 2024 prediction, I’ll share what I believe won’t change. Online merchants will be more successful executing strategies based on what will remain consistent than trying to execute against guesses as to what will change. These enduring elements will continue to shape the way businesses operate and interact with customers online.
1. Consumers will continue to expect fast and reliable delivery. Setting and delivering on delivery expectations will continue to build brand loyalty and improve cart conversions. The trend set by giants like Amazon has established a standard that customers now expect as the norm. In 2024, quick shipping times and reliable delivery services will remain pivotal for customer satisfaction and loyalty.
2. More shopping will happen on mobile devices. Consumers have increasingly turned to their smartphones for shopping, a trend driven by convenience and improved mobile interfaces. This mobile-first approach will continue to be a critical component of e-commerce strategies in 2024. If you’re not optimized for mobile shopping, it’s past time to nail that down.
3. A seamless and engaging online shopping experience (UX) will continue to be a key differentiator for e-commerce sites. The importance of intuitive navigation, fast load times, and appealing aesthetics will remain paramount in attracting and retaining customers.
4. The impact of customer reviews and social proof on purchasing decisions will not diminish. Shoppers will continue to seek out and rely on reviews and recommendations as part of their buying process.
While new trends and technologies will continue emerging in e-commerce in 2024, these fundamental elements will continue to underpin successful online retail strategies. The focus on customer-centric approaches, from fast shipping to seamless shipping experiences, will continue to remain relevant.
While large marketplaces, especially Amazon, will continue to dominate the e-commerce space in 2024, as more people buy online and more micro-segments form in line with different needs and experiences, it presents growth opportunities for smaller but more specialized marketplaces.
Examples include Etsy focusing on handmade crafts, StockX specializing in vintage sneakers, and Rue La La for affordable luxury brands, etc. The key for smaller marketplaces is to widen their differentiation from larger competitors with a unique selection, better pricing, or a better customer experience in some part of the customer shopping journey.
China will continue to be the most important e-commerce market, both domestically and for sellers who sell globally. Outside of China, I believe India, Vietnam, Mexico are the top markets with massive e-commerce opportunities for e-commerce SMBs.
In 2024, the logistics landscape for small e-commerce businesses will undergo a significant shift, primarily fueled by the relentless rise in costs across all areas of their business. A key emerging trend will be the growing need for carrier diversification as a strategic response to escalating costs.
Diversifying carriers offers small e-commerce businesses a range of benefits, including improved cost-effectiveness, reduced dependency on a single provider, and increased adaptability to market fluctuations. By having multiple carrier partnerships instead of being beholden to a single carrier, businesses can pick and choose the best rates, exploit varying delivery networks, and optimize shipping routes. This strategy can ultimately translate into more economical and efficient shipping solutions.
Moreover, carrier diversification contributes to risk mitigation. Small businesses with a reliance on only one or two carriers are inherently more vulnerable to disruptions, such as carrier delays, strikes, or unexpected surges in demand. By spreading their shipping responsibilities across multiple carriers, businesses can minimize the impact of such disruptions, ensuring a smoother and more reliable order fulfillment process.
While this has long been the strategy for large shippers, current market conditions and thin margins that small businesses must operate in are making this a more accessible strategy. 2024 will show how small businesses see diversification of carriers as worth the investment in time to ensure more stability for their businesses, and drive down costs.
In 2024, as more people return to physical stores, small and medium-sized online shops face a new challenge: making their online experience as engaging as in-store shopping. For these businesses, success won’t just be about making quick sales. Success will hinge on creating human-like online experiences that keep consumers coming back.
To stand out, these businesses should focus on personalizing every step of the online journey. They should prioritize adding personal touches, like custom packaging, thank-you notes, and personalized names and messages in tracking updates.
They can also create a more personalized online shopping experience by adding live chat features to address customer needs personally and provide tailored assistance, using geolocation to offer specific deals, shipping information, or content based on where the customer is located, or sending follow-up messages or surveys after a purchase to gather feedback and offer related product recommendations or support.
In 2024, being memorable matters more than just being visible. The key is combining these personal touches with a great online shopping experience – fast websites, smooth deliveries, and a wide range of product choice.
While physical stores are making a comeback, online shops should gear up to offer a premium, personalized online experience. This year won’t just be about the return to in-store shopping; it’s about online shopping becoming more like a personal, enjoyable adventure.
In 2024, small and medium-sized online sellers should focus on diversifying their sales channels and venturing into new markets.
First and foremost, harnessing the recent growth of online marketplaces will be critical. Why? These platforms align perfectly with the preferences of the modern consumer – they offer convenience, a wide product selection, and enticing deals.
Our data from 2023 underscores these preferences, as U.S. shoppers overwhelmingly favored online marketplaces for their holiday shopping. And the reason is simple: when it comes to discovering new products or brands, marketplaces are unrivaled.
Shoppers inherently trust these platforms when trying something new. So, in 2024, know your customers, be where they are online, and don’t hesitate to try new ways to get noticed.
For online sellers in the U.S., there’s a big growth opportunity in international markets in 2024. But successful expansion requires careful planning. This means adapting your offerings to suit various markets, accepting different payment methods, navigating international laws and taxes, offering excellent customer support, and optimizing your shipping.
To succeed in global expansion in 2024, online sellers need top-notch service and to onboard experienced shipping partners familiar with global markets.
For solopreneurs and small business merchants in 2024, the focus will be on harnessing technology to optimize fulfillment operations, manage logistics costs and expand market reach. There are easy ways that e-commerce focused, cloud-based solutions can automate repetitive tasks that are time and again just accepted as “part of doing business,” which is likely taking a bite out of profits.
For example, automating the routine tasks associated with workflows in warehouse fulfillment and shipping – can be a game-changer, allowing businesses to not only allocate resources more effectively but also to enhance profitability.
In shipping, key areas for automation include automating package dimension settings, sending branded notification emails to customers and selecting – in real-time – the most cost-effective shipping options from a more diversified carrier mix, and not just relying on a single carrier.
Additionally, having the flexibility to balance delivery speed with cost and profitability is often overlooked, where built-in business rules in the right shipping technology can automate this type of complex decision-making. These types of automations streamline shipping processes, reduce costs, and improve customer communication.
Diversification in selling channels will also be vital. Often, sellers focus on one or two channels; however, moving beyond more established platforms to explore additional alternatives and niche marketplaces can unlock new customer segments and revenue streams. These less crowded channels offer the potential for higher margins and unique branding opportunities.
It’s critical that sellers of all sizes consider the macroeconomic environment they’re wading into in 2024, and there are three interlinked categories we must understand to do so: the consumer, the corporation and interest rates.
Some have cheered that consumer spending has held up in the face of macroeconomic challenges in 2023, recently citing that Cyber 5 (the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday) sales showed an 8% YoY increase. But consumer credit card debt has surpassed $1 trillion and credit card balances jumped by over $150 billion YoY – the largest increase since 1999.
Meanwhile, consumer sentiment as tracked by the University of Michigan, had taken a nosedive four consecutive months leading into December, which saw a slight uptick that elevated sentiment in line with that of the 2008 financial meltdown.
Similar to the consumer, businesses large and small are debt laden. 2024 and 2025 represent the highest levels of corporate debt ever seen, which, combined with slower GDP growth globally, leaves a grim outlook for businesses – this is undoubtedly a major factor in retail industry layoffs that we’re already seeing at the close of this year.
But I believe there’s reason for optimism in 2024. In the latest meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the group signaled that they expect 75 basis points of cuts from the current interest rate levels next year. That essentially means that the cost of doing business is going to come back down over the course of 2024 and set 2025 up as a year of growth.
The coming 12 months will be all about getting there – a year of survival as victory in which the decisions that sellers make in managing their inventory, exercising fiscal responsibility, and selecting long-term partners will define whether they are prepared to take advantage of an economic boom in the year that follows.
In 2023, we saw online merchants of all sizes focusing almost exclusively on cost when it came to their shipping needs, and this was driven by sluggish demand and cautious consumers who were uncertain about the global economy.
In 2024, we may see a reversal of this trend. Coming out of a strong peak holiday shopping season, and as the macroeconomic outlook improves, merchants will refocus on growth again. While cost is likely to remain a top priority, delivery experience – primarily a combination of reliability and speed will regain its importance in merchants’ minds.
With no dramatic seismic shifts expected in the e-commerce market in 2024, we will see steady e-commerce growth in line with or slightly above pre-pandemic levels.
Part of this e-commerce growth is fueled by U.S. consumers shopping outside of the country. Based on DHL eCommerce’s Global Online Shopper Survey for 2023, almost 40% of shoppers in the U.S. shop cross-border, which presents a significant opportunity for retailers hoping to tap into the U.S. market. Americans are shopping cross-border, looking for lower prices, previous good experiences, and a wider selection of products, mainly from China, the UK and Canada.
In 2024, merchants face a highly competitive market, with Ware2Go finding that 89% of consumers are comparing multiple e-commerce platforms before buying. These e-commerce marketplaces are the new marketing muscle for commerce, and cannot be ignored as part of a brand’s customer acquisition strategy next year.
However, when it comes to margin and brand-building, not all sales channels are created equal. Brands can leverage their marketplace presence to drive sales on their direct channels by offering a limited SKU catalog on marketplace listings but only if they have access to customer data for remarketing and customer engagement. That’s why Amazon’s reopening of the Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) program will play a major role in omnichannel success in the coming year.
Success will hinge on flexible resilience. Merchants must have the ability to easily move inventory between channels and connect supply chain data to marketing strategies to drive demand through geo-targeted ad campaigns to shoppers in a 2-day ground delivery footprint.
Consistency across channels, strategic partnerships, and a seamless supply chain are critical for staying ahead. The marketplace demands a holistic customer experience, emphasizing inventory management, tech integration, and meeting evolving marketplace needs. Adaptability, precision, and customer focus are the keys to thriving in the intricate and competitive marketplace of 2024.
In the last year, top-line e-commerce growth rates have slowed and costs have increased across the board, putting greater pressure on margins. Consequently, merchants of all sizes have turned their attention to profitability, and returns have become a key area of focus for these efforts. Brands have worked diligently this year to reduce return rates, and in 2024 they will continue to focus on these efforts in three key ways.
First, they’ve started charging return fees. Loop’s data shows that 60% of merchants charge some form of return fee. We’ve even seen a 6% increase in the number of merchants charging a fee for exchanges this year, which have historically been free given exchanges are more beneficial to merchants.
In order to prevent forms of return abuse, merchants are also establishing stricter return policies such as shortening their refund window and processing refunds at the time of receipt of returned merchandise. At Loop, we’ve seen a 3% decline in average refund windows and an 800bps (basis points) drop in refund processing at the time of initial scan. We expect this trend to continue heading into 2024.
Finally, brands in the new year will invest more intentionally in leveraging returns data to inform their merchandising and product development. For example, brands will seek to use returns data analytics to understand which products shoppers return the most and why, which helps them prevent unnecessary returns before they happen and better meet customers’ expectations the first time around. It also helps them identify how returns impact key customer retention behaviors, including average time to repeat purchase, average order value, and more.
The future of online marketplaces is incredibly promising. Currently, 63% of all e-commerce transactions take place through a marketplace, highlighting the significant role these platforms play in the digital economy. Importantly, these sales are not cannibalizing site sales but are additive. They provide an additional avenue for retailers to reach consumers and can significantly boost overall sales volumes.
Take, for example, a small boutique clothing store. Their website might attract a loyal customer base, but by also listing on marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy, they can reach a much larger audience without detracting from their site sales. In fact, it can often drive new customers back to their own website, increasing overall sales.
Another exciting development is the rise of cross-border selling. Marketplaces have simplified the process of reaching international customers, opening up entirely new markets for retailers. A UK-based retailer could easily sell to customers in the US, Europe, or Asia, thanks to these platforms. Localization – offering products in the local language, accepting local currencies, and understanding local customs and regulations – is key to tapping into this potential.
Let’s consider a US-based electronics company that starts selling on Alibaba. They can now effortlessly reach millions of potential customers in Asia, without the need for physical stores or local distribution networks. This opportunity for global expansion was unthinkable a few decades ago.
Online marketplaces are driving a new era of retail, one that is global, inclusive, and customer-centric. They offer unparalleled opportunities for growth, diversification, and innovation. For retailers willing to embrace these platforms, the future looks bright indeed.
As we step into 2024, the e-commerce landscape is set for significant evolution. At ZIK Analytics, we empower individuals and businesses to navigate this e-commerce journey to financial independence.
Drawing from our extensive analysis of eBay’s sales data predicts a significant shift towards practicality and value in consumer behavior. In 2024, we foresee dominance in niche categories like Cell Phone Accessories, Home & Garden, and Consumer Electronics in the US, and Health and Beauty, Cell Phones Accessories, and Clothing Shoe Accessories in the UK. These trends mirror the evolving lifestyle needs of consumers.
For example, the Cell Phone Accessories category has shown robust activity, with over 20 million active listings and nearly a million sold items from the top listings on eBay. This trend is likely to persist into 2024, reflecting the growing consumer reliance on mobile technology.
In the UK, the Health and Beauty niche is another area to watch. Our data indicates a substantial number of active listings and solid sales figures, suggesting a sustained interest in personal wellness and self-care products. These insights are invaluable for sellers targeting these markets.
ZIK Analytics stands at the forefront of this evolving landscape. By providing unlimited searches, scans, and market insights, ZIK empowers sellers with the knowledge to make informed decisions – guiding them from their first sale to achieving financial independence.
To uplevel e-commerce success in 2024, sellers must understand how their products perform online–and how to keep listings optimized. As retailers look to exert more control over their online presence, the benefits of digital shelf analytics (DSA) are increasingly clear, particularly when the technology is integrated within an advanced product information management (PIM) solution. Combining these two technologies provides real agility when delivering compelling product experiences across even the most competitive digital marketplaces.
According to Gartner, there was a 35% increase in PIM inquiries from mid-2022 to mid-2023; marketplaces like Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud and Salesforce are enabling more brands and manufacturers to kick off their PIM journeys. In 2024, these cloud marketplaces will only continue to simplify PIM procurement, creating an easier path to adoption.
Another tactic that sellers can use to scale their business in 2024 is leveraging artificial intelligence for bulk creation and enrichment of content. AI is revolutionizing product information management by making it easier to create rich, compelling, and localized product content for every channel at the touch of a button.
Finally, consumers are requesting more insight from manufacturers and the brands they buy from – there’s been an increase in requests to understand where products come from, as well as what materials were used, who made them and the journey that has led them to market. These product origin stories will be a key trend in 2024 and provide product-level traceability for brands to make the most of their green credentials, while also allowing consumers to make more informed shopping decisions.
In 2024, I believe Amazon will still hold its ranks as the leading e-commerce player. Having said that, I would expect Amazon to be forced to provide and communicate more deals and offers. This is due to pressures from competitive forces like Walmart and Target, as well as decreased loyalty for individual platforms as consumers prioritize price and convenience.
In the current environment, the challenge for marketplace sellers is to increase the ease of making repeat purchases. Maintaining available inventory for the top-performing product categories (SKUs), using high-quality product content in listings, and optimizing that content both for advertising and for providing relevant information to all audiences and decision makers will all be critical factors for attracting customers, building brand loyalty, and driving sales on marketplaces in the coming year.
Additionally, we will see significant growth in more specialized B2B marketplaces. However, significant investments will need to be made in the new year for these marketplaces to meet customer demands for transparency and convenience throughout all operations and shopping processes.
A big thanks goes out to all the industry experts who participated in this year’s 2024 predictions feature! We truly appreciate them carving out time from their jam-packed schedules, especially during such a busy time of the year. Their invaluable insights into what lies ahead for e-commerce marketplace sellers and online retailers in 2024 and beyond have been fantastic.
Now, we conclude this year’s edition with our humble perspectives for next year.
The tech industry witnessed a significant rise in the popularity of “AI” in 2023. Without a doubt, ChatGPT emerged as the noteworthy “brand name” that helped make AI more recognizable to mainstream audiences.
In turn, online marketplaces have embraced the power of artificial intelligence to begin transforming how we list, search, shop, market, and interact with this technology.
Public-facing features such as summarizing customer reviews, writing product descriptions, and making recommendations are already changing how we interact with online marketplaces.
Frankly, we are just scratching the surface today. Imagine if you, as a buyer, could provide details about what you want to buy by giving detailed product and usage information.
For example, let’s say you are going to a birthday party and need new shoes to go with your existing black skirt and white blouse.
Maybe sooner than later, you would add something like: “I need a pair of shoes in size 7 that are comfortable and fit my medium-long black skirt and white short-sleeve blouse for birthday party. We will be bar hopping, so I want something stylish, but also comfortable.”
You could add additional descriptions of your current clothes, material preferences for the shoes, brand choices, price ranges, etc., all to the search input.
Of course, with voice recognition on your mobile device, including an “AI-powered” shopping assistant that can provide feedback or offer alternative or additional styling ideas. E-commerce is about convenience, so that would be convenient, right?
None of this is utopia anymore. I believe we are very close to seeing the first signs of this type of online shopping convenience in 2024.
But what does this mean for sellers? Great images, detailed descriptions, and use cases, where appropriate, will matter. The more an online marketplace can understand the listing, the better it will be able to match that listing to a shopper’s search.
AI selling tools will help sellers improve their listings. Ultimately, attention to important details in images and descriptions will be crucial to the success of the listing, as marketplaces will increasingly use artificial intelligence to match products with shoppers.
Richard has done a fantastic job of summarizing my thoughts on the continued amalgamation of AI with e-commerce. The space is ripe for further development and as always, the businesses that can be early adopters in the emerging technologies will be the ones that see the greatest success.
Moving away from AI, I think 2024 could be a breakout year for social e-commerce / social commerce / s-commerce (delete as appropriate) in a way that we haven’t seen before. While many have tried over the years, including Facebook, Instagram and even Amazon with Spark, early signs are indicating that TikTok Shop could be the game changer.
TikTok Shop allows users to purchase products directly from videos, creating a seamless shopping experience. TikTok’s unique and often praised algorithm allows users to find products tailored to their interests, making shopping more personal and enjoyable.
As always the goal for e-commerce businesses is to get their products in front of as many eyeballs as possible and if your product appeals to the younger generations, TikTok Shop is something that you should absolutely be considering. In a recent study over 58% of TikTok users said they sought shopping inspiration from the social media platform and as the TikTok Shop continues to get a more seamless experience and users receive a more customized experience, it could finally be the platform that creates the synergy between e-commerce and social network in the west…despite it being a Chinese company.
For the right audience, I think the opportunity in 2024 for social commerce is only going to expand.
To learn more about each business, please visit the links below:
- eBay (online marketplace)
- Walmart Marketplace (online marketplace)
- Poshmark (online marketplace)
- Handmade (online marketplace)
- Wix (e-commerce platform)
- Intuit QuickBooks (small business accounting)
- Onramp Funds (e-commerce working capital loans)
- Payoneer (online payments)
- Sendle (shipping carrier)
- ShippingEasy (shipping & logistics platform)
- ShipEngine (shipping & logistics platform)
- Descartes (shipping & logistics platform)
- Shippo (shipping & logistics platform)
- DHL eCommerce (3PL / third-party fulfillment solution)
- Ware2Go (3PL / third-party fulfillment solution)
- Loop (returns management / reverse logistics platform)
- Linnworks (e-commerce integration platform)
- Zik Analytics (e-commerce sales & data analytics)
- inriver (PIM / product information management platform)
- Productsup (product content distribution platform)
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