There’s a reason consumers pay attention when they see a social media post with the hashtag “trending.”

No one wants to miss a popular video on TikTok. Everyone wants to see what others are saying about a hot topic in the news. If they’re in a shopping mood, “trending” could indicate their next must-have purchase.

Brands need to keep an eye on what’s trending too, but from a different perspective. What you’re watching for are the retail marketing trends that show how consumer expectations are evolving when they shop on eCommerce sites.

When you know the trends in eCommerce, you’re in a better position to offer the right products at the right time. You’re able to deliver a customer experience with minimal friction. Most importantly, you’re able to drive better results in terms of revenue, repeat purchases and positive word of mouth.

Key eCommerce Trends for 2024

Keeping up with eCommerce trends can feel like a full-time job in itself. To that end, we’ve compiled some of the most critical research to fine-tune your strategy over the next year and beyond:

1. AI is already transforming online shopping for the better

Whether brands use AI to recommend products or power chatbots that troubleshoot customer service issues, artificial intelligence is no longer a futuristic nice-to-have. In fact, 72% of retailers believe an AI-enhanced shopping experience is giving them a competitive advantage, and two-thirds (69%) expect it will boost customer loyalty (70%).

AI can take many forms, from generative AI to machine learning (ML). The one common denominator is that the technology needs to be trained on quality data. That means you should be looking at solutions that allow you to easily manage product catalogs and inventory data. The more accurate and up to date your keep pricing, quantities and other information, the more ROI you’ll get from tools like AI.

2. eCommerce growth opportunities abound outside the holiday season

The conventional wisdom is that retail marketing efforts should focus on peak periods such as the days leading up to U.S. Thanksgiving or Christmas. Based on market research, however, only 9% of consumers plan to spend more during the holidays. Instead, 19% have been shopping year-round, a figure that increased from 16% the year before.

This speaks to the value of taking a consistent approach to feeding product data across relevant channels at all times, and using personalization to entice shoppers. That’s a lot better than relying on only a few days on the calendar to grow your business.

3. Costs are the No. 1 cause of cart abandonment

If consumers are giving up before completing their online order, it’s difficult to get them back. Not surprisingly, nearly 20% of consumers say they abandon digital shopping carts do to shipping costs, while nearly the same percentage believe they might find a product cheaper elsewhere.

The lesson? Use product listings on search engines and other retail marketing channels to convey that you have the best price, and save consumers from looking around for a better deal. If you offer free shipping (or free shipping based on an amount spent) make that clear in your advertising too.

4. Mobile web is preferable to apps

Retailers may wonder if they should be allocating more to their own site or encourage consumers to download and install a branded app on their phone. However, 84% of consumers said they be willing to install and shop through a retailer’s mobile app if it gave them access to better sales or pricing.

Unless you want to create a unique experience through an app

Unless you want to create a unique experience through an app, investing in your web site and online marketplaces where consumers are more likely to shop is a better idea.

5. Creators become a critical retail marketing partner

Traditional online advertising and marketing isn’t going away, but brands are also recognizing there are influencers with followings far larger and more engaged than their own. That’s why 92% of Brands Report Creator Marketing Budgets will Increase in 2024. That means, beyond promoting products through campaigns on ad networks and through the social media accounts they manage, brands work with creators to develop authentic stories that reflect the interests and needs of their customers too.

Remember that no matter what kind of content they create, creators are just as reliant on providing their product data their followers can trust. Think of this as yet another component of an omnichannel marketing effort, where the right solutions will allow to distribute data in a streamlined manner.

Total sales and marketplace revenue

Despite periods of high inflation and other economic challenges, there’s ample reason to believe that capitalizing on eCommerce trends will help retail marketing efforts pay off handsomely over the next 12 months.

Globally, eCommerce revenue is forecast to grow 9% in 2024, with worldwide sales topping $5.8 trillion.

The opportunity isn’t limited to selling products through your own brand’s web site. The long-term outlook for online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Walmart is pegged to grow to $600 billion in U.S. sales alone. Capitalizing on the potential of selling through third parties depends on having the ability to manage marketplace integration with speed and agility. Make this a top priority in 2024.

Retail marketing tips to act on eCommerce trends

Trends in eCommerce only matter if you can use them to turn more browsers into buyers. Here’s how:

  • Conduct a data-driven eCommerce audit: You’re sitting on more data than you might realize. There’s never a bad time to take a step back and study which channels drove the greatest performance, which didn’t and to refocus your efforts accordingly.
  • Capture the voice of the customer: If you don’t already, look at touchpoints where you’re already engaging with customers, such as e-mail. Use surveys and polls to gather feedback about their key shopping preferences to ensure your retail marketing tactics align with them.
  • Consult with experts about building a better tech stack: When you’re heads-down in your daily work, it’s difficult to keep track of emerging technologies that could help you accomplish your goals. Set aside time for discussions with vendors you trust about the latest innovations and how you could apply them.

You don’t just learn a lot from studying eCommerce trends. You can also benefit from adopting the best practices of other retail marketing leaders. Highstreet.io is privileged to work with many of them. Connect with our team to let us share our top recommendations for retail marketing success.