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E-commerce Trends Ahead of the Holidays

Hotwire Global

by Abby Schoffman

On the heels of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season, data shows record e-commerce spending across Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. According to Adobe Analytics, consumers have already spent $8.3 billion online this holiday season. But what does it take to capture the consumer’s dollar in a year that’s fraught with economic uncertainty and inflation concerns? Here are a few trends online retailers should be thinking about as we continue to inch toward the holidays.

Consumers want options
While Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) has been around since the ‘80s, it’s only in recent years that we’ve seen it adopted so readily in the world of e-commerce with the likes of Affirm, Afterpay and Klarna giving retailers ways to increase conversions and drive sales during peak times like the holidays. And consumers seem to like having flexibility when it comes to how and when they spend their money – BNPL usage set a new record on Cyber Monday, up over 42% compared to last year. Online retailers who offer BNPL as an option stand to bump conversion rates anywhere from 20-30%, so it’s a smart place to start when planning for the holiday shopping rush.

The Omnichannel experience continues to be more important than ever
Consumers don’t just want options and flexibility when shopping online – they’re looking to bridge those to IRL as well. Today’s consumer may pop into a brick-and-mortar store to browse for a high ticket holiday gift, but often times they prefer to price hunt and pull the trigger online. Retailers who excel at integrating their online and offline channels through the likes of in-store pickup and online return options can help meet the modern shopper’s hybrid preferences.  

Seamless logistics and delivery are a must
Thanks to top e-commerce companies like Amazon, consumers have grown to enjoy fast, free delivery on a wide variety of products. Of course, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure they’re able to deliver on those promises, especially at peak times. Amazon recently talked about how the company invests in machine learning and generative AI in a very purpose-driven way to help make a real impact on the consumer experience. From making sure their warehouses are properly stocked and robots are able to direct goods to the right stations within the facilities for packing and sorting, to simplifying matching and geolocating customer addresses when they’re input during the checkout process to help smooth out delivery instructions for drivers – Amazon goes beyond just making it easy for consumers to shop. They’re committed to using the latest technologies to build a fast, reliable logistics and delivery network that sets the bar high for other online retailers.

Sustainability matters
Today’s consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever before, with many putting more thought into how they can reduce their individual carbon footprint. This trickles down to how they shop around the holidays as well. Excessive consumerism, unnecessary packaging, fast fashions and waste all have a direct environmental impact and consumers are looking at a number of solutions to combat this –  whether shopping at thrift shops, cutting back on buying goods entirely or leaning toward gifting experiences vs. items. International Secondhand Sunday, launched last year by Poshmark, is one initiative that gained some momentum this year. Of course, not all e-commerce businesses offer secondhand goods depending on their business model, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get on board with thoughtful and transparent sustainability practices. Consumers are demanding to hear more about this – and if they can’t easily find out what your stance is when it comes to the environment, they may just shop somewhere else.

Consumers are embracing tech
While our smartphones continue to be a top channel for shopping (more than 50% of online sales were made through a smartphone on Cyber week), we’re starting to see consumers embrace other technologies that make shopping fast and easy. Whether that’s shopping hands-free through the voice assistant on your smart device or tapping into AR or VR technology for a fully immersive buying experience, retailers should be thinking beyond mobile and looking to optimize their websites for emerging shopping technologies. 

These are just a few of the key trends we’re seeing during the 2023 holiday shopping rush. As we head into the final days, be sure to check your list twice and see where you stand when it comes to embracing the e-commerce trends the modern consumer demands. Not sure where to start? Hotwire works with a number of industry leaders in the e-commerce and retail space, so feel free to reach out for a chat.

Happy Holidays from Hotwire!