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10 Ecommerce Consumer Behavior Trends to Watch in 2024

By: Ted Rogers
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In 2024, businesses that prioritize their customers’ needs and adapt to emerging trends will be the ones that thrive. This guide explores 10 key trends shaping the landscape and offers actionable advice to help you stay ahead of the curve.

From data security and Augmented Reality to sustainability and mobile-first UX, if you’re looking to take your ecommerce site to the next level this year, make sure you’re in the loop with what consumers expect.

1. There’s No Stopping the Popularity of Subscriptions

Subscription-based ecommerce is set to continue its growth into 2024, with benefits for both businesses and customers.

Many ecommerce businesses will be familiar with the concept of “surprise and delight” which has become a staple of conversations around solutions like loyalty schemes and subscription service offerings. Being able to deliver this feeling to a customer requires a balance between the slick, convenient application of automation with – in the case of physical products – the tactile joy of having a package delivered.

The appeal for retailers and service providers is clear as, when done correctly, you’re ensured predictable, consistent revenue.

Whether you’re delivering products or offering a digital service, you can set a subscription service apart by ensuring personalized touches like:

  • Competitive, budget-friendly pricing structures (i.e., tiering)
  • Personalized offerings based on consumer preferences
  • A range of delivery and fulfillment options to meet customer needs

One thing to bear in mind is that, while of course you want your subscribers to stick with you, there must be an easy way for them to both manage and cancel if that’s their decision. Making customers jump through hoops to leave will immediately negate any advocacy built up through the subscription’s benefits.

2. The Rise of Social Commerce and Channel Choice

A growing number of brands are providing frictionless opportunities for consumers to find and buy straight from their social apps of choice (with TikTok and Instagram leading the way). Businesses capitalizing on this are meeting the rising bar for customer expectations that will ensure a strong return on their investment in social commerce.

83% of Gen Z consumers claim to start their shopping journey on social media.  [1]

With 97M (expected to rise to 114M in 2024) people in the US shopping directly on social media [2], how can you make sure you aren’t left behind?

  • Create a seamless experience over multiple channels: Consumers are increasingly looking to craft their own unique buying journey. Companies that leverage multiple channels to provide this freedom will see the benefits.
  • Prioritizing mobile-first user experience: Make sure there’s a seamless transition from your social to your online storefront – both in terms of messaging and usability.

Social is Only One Strand of an Omnichannel Experience

Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy in shopping around, comparing, and communicating with brands. They expect this experience to be as frictionless as possible.

This is also increasingly true of B2B customers who are becoming more comfortable with ecommerce if there is flexibility of payment methods and delivery options.

Two-thirds of consumers shop across multiple channels. Retailers that use of three or more channels have shown engagement 251% up compared to those sticking to a single channel. [3]

It’s crucial that your channels communicate seamlessly. Wherever a customer chooses to drop and pick up their purchasing journey – they should be able to continue from where they left off – that’s where personalization comes in.

3. Personalized Journeys and Customer Service are Essential

It’s clear that a broad approach with a one-size-fits-all experience will struggle to meet evolving consumer standards. Customers are looking for personalization throughout their journey and communications with brands.

When a customer provides consent for you to use their data, there’s an expectation of some form of curated, personalized experience:

  • Being guided to products and services that are relevant to them based on what they’ve bought, browsing behavior, and how they’ve engaged with the brand cross-channel.
  • Feeling valued through rewards and the option to join loyalty programs for perks.
  • Receiving communications via their preferred channel with messaging that reflects personalized criteria.

Personalizing Your Customer Service

Personalization should now be seen as an extension of customer service. Past interactions with your store, their transactional history, and any shared personal preferences should be used to tailor their experience.

At the point of interaction (i.e., a product query, delivery enquiry, or concern being raised) the service you offer reflects on your brand. Everywhere you engage with customers – whether it be by live chat, email, or even via social channels – will have a huge impact on the perception of your business.

The ability to demonstrate to a customer that they are recognized and valued can be the difference between advocacy and bad word of mouth.

4. Data Privacy and Transparency is Critical for Consumers

While there’s an increasing push toward multi-channel, personalized experiences, this hasn’t lessened the expectation that companies guarantee privacy and are transparent with their use of customer information.

This is a line in the sand when it comes to customer trust. Any breaches or misuse of personal data will likely end that person’s relationship with the business as well as open it up to negative reviews or even bad press depending on the scale.

By the end of 2024, it’s projected that 75% of the global population will have personal data covered by privacy legislation.  [4]

Aside from the reputational consequences of bad data management, ecommerce businesses have found that breaching compliance can incur large fines and legal repercussions. With all this in mind, a key pillar of any customer experience strategy must be data privacy and transparency. Especially as AI hyper-personalization becomes more prevalent.

Find out how Digital River can mitigate ecommerce risk in our role as a Merchant of Record.

5. The AI Ecommerce Revolution is Here

It may have become something of a catch-all buzzword, but, having hit the mainstream in 2023 with multiple generative options, both businesses and consumers are becoming more aware of the potential uses of AI.

While many ecommerce brands have this on their radar, for those that don’t it’s crucial to understand its potential to help with the following:

  • Personalizing recommendations and experiences for consumers.
  • Optimizing marketing strategy to ensure the right people are served the right message at the right time.
  • Streamlining admin tasks (i.e., inventory and logistics).

If you’re not considering it, you’re in the minority – with 97.2% of companies now putting money into big data and AI solutions. [5]

Learn more about the potential of machine learning and AI in e-commerce.

6. Ecommerce Sites Require a Truly Mobile-First Approach

It may seem as though it’s been part of the digital conversation forever, but now mobile-first is moving from being something to keep in mind for your UX, to something that needs to be at the forefront of it. Mobile-centric ecommerce (or mcommerce ) has exploded in popularity over the past decade with 91% of consumers saying they purchase online via their phone. [6]

This shift necessitates a change of attitude from optimizing desktop to mobile, to designing truly mobile-first customer experiences.

In 2024, 44.6% of all US ecommerce sales are projected to be made via a mobile device.

How can ecommerce sites adapt to customer expectations?

  • Being able to use mobile payment services (i.e. Apple Pay, Google Pay) will streamline the checkout experience for many customers.
  • Creating an app that is optimized for smaller screens and with ecommerce features is a great way to cater to the ever-increasing amounts of mcommerce converts.
  • Leverage the convenience of fingerprint scanning and facial recognition to simplify the UX from login to check-out.

7. Demand for Voice Search Options Growing Louder

Smart speakers now being ubiquitous in consumers’ homes, coupled with the fact that they’re getting smarter all the time, means they’re being used increasingly to engage with brands and services.

We’ve covered mcommerce but it’s time to add another to the list with voice commerce. With circa 40% of American internet users interacting with some sort of voice assistant at least monthly as of 2022 – not to mention the 200M smart speakers in the US as of 2023 [8] – there’s a clear need to optimize your ecommerce offering with voice search options.

There are already examples of large retailers (i.e., Walmart) giving their customers the ability to order from them straight through their smart speaker – with more soon to follow.

Something that should be on your mind moving further into 2024 is how you can use this option to engage customers and give them even more opportunities to interact and convert with your business. Brands should also factor in how your customers are likely to ask for things naturally – how do humans, not machines, talk about and request what you offer.

8. More Immersive Ecommerce Experiences Wanted: VR & AR

A barrier that’s long been faced by online shoppers is the ability to ‘try’ before they buy – how clothes will look on them or how a piece of furniture will fit into their home. Virtual and augmented reality (VR & AR) ecommerce experiences have begun to break this down.

Consumers can now visualize and ‘interact’ with your products before making the decision to purchase.

Examples of how this can be implemented include:

  • Customers ‘trying on’ clothing and cosmetics via smartphone functionality.
  • AR is a great way to see appliances and furniture in the context of their own space – IKEA being a leading proponent.
  • VR shop floors give consumers the opportunity to interact and configure products (i.e., a virtual car showroom).

What’s the benefit to investing in these services? They decrease anxiety around online purchases and provide experience-driven shopping. In fact, a survey on these technologies showed that 80% of users felt more confident in their buying decision, with 66% of AR shoppers less likely to return what they’ve bought. [9]

9. Sustainability is More Important than Ever

Sustainable shopping options are a deal breaker for many consumers – especially the younger, more environmentally conscious generations that make up a huge proportion of ecommerce activity. It’s certainly not a trend that’s going away any time soon.

Whether it’s eco-conscious product offerings or a guarantee that the business itself operates with sustainable practices, being able to demonstrate this is a fantastic trust marker. There are benefits from the business’ point of view too, with customers often willing to pay more for sustainable products or to support eco-friendly operations.

That said, it’s important to heed the transparency advice from earlier in our trends list. While there’s growing support for sustainability, there’s also growing skepticism of “greenwashing” – companies that shout about green credentials without backing any of it up.

If you’re able to make authentic claims in this area, you’ll see the benefits in the form of customer advocacy and aligned values that build long-lasting buyer relationships.

10. Rapid Delivery Options are Now Expected as Standard

Consumer patience when it comes to delivery time continues to remain low. Meeting customers’ increasing demands for convenient, speedy options will require ecommerce businesses to review how they’re fulfilling orders.

The promise of same-day delivery has been game-changing, and it isn’t something that will change through 2024. Popular food ordering and delivery platforms have even made people expect deliveries within hours. Those who can rise to the challenge will undoubtedly gain an edge.

While it may not be possible for everyone to deliver same-day, to stay competitive, ecommerce companies need to adapt to rapid delivery as the new norm.

Implementing this level of fulfillment efficiency requires comprehensive planning:

  • Research reliable couriers that specialize in efficient, rapid deliveries.
  • Depending on your product mix, having more than one courier option may provide the service flexibility you need.
  • Review internal processes to optimize integration with external partners.

As previously mentioned, this also needs to go hand in hand with sustainability where possible. If it’s viable to investigate carbon-neutral couriers, it will go a long way for your green credentials.

Customer-Centric Experiences Dominate 2024 Commerce Trends

Whether it’s personalization, subscriptions, or a dovetailed omnichannel approach to ecommerce, 2024’s trends are all about putting the consumer’s experience front and center. So, when in doubt, simply ask yourself what your customer would want. With that as your compass, you’re sure to stay on the right track.

Contact us today to learn more about how Digital River can support your ecommerce business and visit our Resources page to access insights into more trends, advice, and industry news.