5 Trends Set to Power the E-Commerce Revolution in 2024
As we begin 2024, the e-commerce landscape is on the brink of a significant transformation. Technological advancements like artificial intelligence/generative AI coupled with evolving consumer behaviors and a global shift towards sustainability are converging to redefine the way we shop online — from the way we search for products and make payments, to the authenticity of our shopping experiences, to how orders are fulfilled and more. I've identified five key trends in e-commerce that will give retailers unique opportunities to innovate and gain a competitive edge in 2024:
1. Conversational AI and Zero-Click Search Will Transform E-Commerce
The upcoming launch of Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) is set to reshape the e-commerce landscape this year. In fact, it's prompting many retailers to consider the integration of generative or conversational search tools into their e-commerce platforms.
According to a Publicis Sapient global consumer survey, there's considerable enthusiasm around generative AI and shopping — 87 percent of consumers who have used generative AI are excited about something the technology will bring to their shopping experience. Additionally, 27 percent of consumers overall are excited about generative AI’s ability to improve real-time deal comparison and overall search results, and 43 percent of those surveyed who have used a generative AI tool expect brands to use the technology to improve the overall customer experience. Retailers that are proactive in experimenting with and implementing generative AI-powered conversational search experiences in 2024 stand to gain a competitive edge. This innovative approach not only enhances the user experience, but also positions retailers at the forefront of e-commerce evolution.
2. Invisible Payments Will Shape Future Shopping
The growing trend of "buy now, pay later" (BNPL) has given rise to "invisible payments" — transactions that happen seamlessly, without any noticeable interaction between the customer and the payment system. As e-commerce becomes increasingly seamless and personalized, retailers will more rapidly adopt these frictionless payment methods. However, it's essential for retailers to responsibly offer these options, catering to regular BNPL users who prefer installment payments, while not enticing inexperienced shoppers into unmanageable debt.
3. Online Shopping Will Thrive on Authenticity
As consumers increasingly seek genuine and trustworthy interactions, retailers that can successfully incorporate user-generated content into their e-commerce platforms and social media channels are in a position to gain a significant advantage. This integration not only enhances the shopping experience but also fosters a sense of community and trust among consumers. A global Publicis Sapient survey revealed that nearly half of consumers make purchase decisions using online search (45 percent) and product reviews (41 percent). The survey also showed that 35 percent of Gen Z uses social media to discover and evaluate new brands and products. By encouraging and showcasing real reviews, photos and experiences from other customers, retailers can create a more transparent and authentic shopping environment that resonates with today's consumers. This authenticity-driven approach is set to make these retailers the preferred shopping destinations.
4. Secondhand Marketplaces Will Grow in Popularity
As the cost of living continues to rise and consumers become more conscious of sustainability, the popularity of secondhand marketplaces, rental platforms, and resale options is expected to surge in 2024. To capitalize on this trend, retailers need to devise optimal pricing strategies that balance consumer appeal and profitability. Efficient logistics are also crucial, as the success of these platforms depends on the swift and reliable transfer of goods. In addition, creating effective value chains is key. This involves sourcing and authenticating secondhand goods, refurbishing items if needed, and marketing them to the right audience. By addressing these areas, retailers can tap into the growing secondhand economy and build stronger customer relationships.
5. Smart Supply Chains Will Help Create a Sustainable Future
In the face of increasing global uncertainties, the urgency for retailers to digitize their supply chains has never been greater. By embracing solutions such as an AI-powered control tower, retailers can build more resilient supply chains that are capable of mitigating losses from unforeseen events. Additionally, these smart supply chains can serve as a dependable foundation for measuring carbon emissions. As sustainability becomes a non-negotiable aspect of business operations, having accurate and reliable data on carbon emissions is crucial.
Through digitization, retailers can gain better visibility and control over their supply chains, enabling them to optimize operations, reduce waste, and make more informed decisions. This not only contributes to environmental sustainability, but also enhances business resilience and competitiveness in the long run.
E-commerce is on the cusp of a new era, marked by increased interactivity, seamless transactions, authenticity, and sustainability. Retailers that can anticipate these shifts, adapt swiftly, and meet evolving consumer expectations will not only survive but thrive in this dynamic landscape. As we look at 2024, it's clear that the e-commerce revolution is far from over; in fact, it's just beginning.
Sudip Mazumder, is senior vice president, retail industry lead, North America at Publicis Sapient, a global digital transformation consulting company.
Sudip Mazumder is Head of Retail, North America at digital consultancy Publicis Sapient.
Sudip leads the Publicis Sapient’s Retail business in North America. He advises clients on growth and go-to-market strategies, consumer experience and commercial effectiveness programs in the digital business transformation space.
For over two decades at Publicis Sapient, Sudip has delivered multi-million-dollar digital transformation engagements for multiple Fortune 500 clients. For these clients, Sudip helped in developing and employing agility-at-scale techniques to improve productivity, quality, morale and time-to-market.
Sudip holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and an MBA in General Management from Chicago Booth.