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    7 Surprising Online Shopping Trends Brands Should Lean Into

    8 minute read
    7 Surprising Online Shopping Trends Brands Should Lean Into

    Birthdays, holidays, “just because” — who doesn’t like a nice surprise once in a while?

    For ecommerce teams, discovering “the unexpected” in online shopping trends can often bring its own rewards: identifying opportunities to streamline touch points, delight customers, and outshine the competition.

    Brands on the lookout for these surprises can not only leverage them to their advantage but also avert potential pitfalls as they carve out a competitive edge in the digital marketplace.

    7 Surprising Online Shopping Trends

    Take a closer look at the attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions informing the online shopper in the Salsify “2024 Consumer Research” report. The report breaks down insights from 2,700 respondents in the U.S. and U.K. to get a broad view of emerging online shopping trends at each stage of the customer journey.

    Explore some of the most surprising — and actionable — insights identified by respondents.

    1. Influencing Along the Generational Divide

    You may not be surprised to learn that the effectiveness of influencer marketing heavily skews toward the younger generations.

    What may surprise you, however, is just how much: While only 16% of millennials report that they’ve made a purchase after consulting an influencer, this figure doubles to 32% among Gen Zers.

    Another big surprise? Twenty-five percent of Gen Xers report doing the same thing — meaning they do so at a rate more than 50% higher than millennials. Boomers are the least interested in this form of engagement, with only 9% reportedly “influenced.”

    What Brands Should Do: Segmentation

    Beyond keeping these online shopping trends in mind when determining whether to employ influencers in your own campaign(s), the findings also underscore another important best practice: ensuring you provide personalized, segmented, and relevant touch points for your customers, keeping them on a swift progression across your customer journey. 

    2. Limits of Influence

    With all that being said, Salsify’s research also uncovered some apparent limitations with influencer marketing.

    Across all generations, influencers seem to have nearly zero effect on whether or not a shopper will trust a brand (1%) or choose the more expensive item between two similar products (2%).

    What Brands Should Do: Trust Customer Voices

    If your campaign(s) aim to build trust with your customers or convey perceived value, you might want to consider another angle outside of influencers — perhaps investing in further incentives to capture customer reviews. 

    3. How Low Will They Go?

    Everybody has their limit. But just how deep into the search results are customers willing to go to find the right product?

    To find out, Salsify asked respondents how many pages of search results they typically read before clicking on a product page. The most, at 45%, said the number is usually three. Twenty-five percent said five pages and 14% said only one — about the same amount (15%) who reported they’d go to the tenth page or beyond.

    In other words: If your product doesn’t appear on the first three pages of search results, you’re losing more than half of your potential audience right out of the gate. If it’s not on the first five, that figure balloons to a staggering 84% of shoppers(!).

    What Brands Should Do: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    These serious numbers drive home the importance of maintaining an aggressive SEO strategy, including extensive product descriptions and rich multimedia content. Those efforts will not only boost your visibility on search engines but also help customers make an informed decision about your products. 

    4. Emerging Popularity of ‘Delivery on Demand’

    While physical retail stores (60%) and online marketplaces (65%) remain the top “primary channels” for shoppers, it appears that “delivery on demand” services like Instacart and Drizzly are also becoming a notable new contender in the battle for consumer attention.

    It’s well-known that these services exploded in popularity during the pandemic; however, it’s particularly interesting that 6% of respondents identified these sorts of apps as their “primary” shopping channel.

    Expect this upward trend to continue in coming years as the technology — and the customer preference for convenience — continue to shift throughout the digital marketplace.

    What Brands Should Do: Expand to New Channels

    If you see any alignment between your brand and these kinds of services, it’s time to start strategizing how to effectively integrate them into your campaigns — especially if you’d like to maximally leverage your presence in this space. 

    5. Showing as Much — If Not More — Than You Tell

    This post has already touched on the value of including extensive — if not exhaustive — information on each product description page. But there’s another crucial element your customers will expect: high-quality product images.

    Salsify’s research found that 76% of shoppers identified high-quality product images as a main factor in their decision to engage with a product page — strikingly tied for first place with “pricing and discounts.”

    What Brands Should Do: Optimize Product Images

    Shopper attitudes toward great product images suggest brands can attract discount-level attention without having to cut into their product margins. Not bad!

    The takeaway? Make sure you don’t overlook optimizing your images as a relatively easy and cost-effective way to stand out in search results. 

    6. Buying Online Is More Mainstream Than Ever

    Online shopping, once an infrequent luxury for consumers, has now become an increasingly integral part of their daily or weekly routines — and doesn’t show any signs of stopping.

    A solid majority (58%) of shoppers now browse and purchase items online at least once a week, with 10% reporting they do so daily. Also of note? Only 1% of consumers reported making zero online purchases in the past year.

    What Brands Should Do: Reward Loyalty

    Considering the now near-universal engagement with online shopping, segmenting frequent customers can empower brands to explore the factors driving that loyalty. Implementing targeted ads and personalized experiences — such as tailored recommendations or loyalty rewards — couldn’t hurt either. 

    7. The High Cost of Low-Quality Info

    While focused mainly on the online shopping trends that drive customer awareness, consideration, and purchase, Salsify’s survey also took a look at the factors that compel customers to abandon a potential online sale.

    The number one response — a “high price,” at 58% — is probably not a huge surprise. However, the next four highest factors — no or low customer ratings or negative reviews (56%), no or low-quality product images or videos (45%), incomplete or poorly written product titles or descriptions (42%), and inconsistent production information cross websites (41%) — all fall into the broader category of bad, misleading, or incomplete product information.

    You probably know where this is going: The findings illustrate just how important it is to ensure the accuracy and completeness of your brand’s product information, from touch point to touch point, throughout your customer’s journey.

    What Brands Should Do: Identify Shortfalls

    Implementing regular audits and updates of product listings, engaging in proactive customer feedback collection, and ensuring consistent information across channels are all great ways to protect your brand from gratuitous cart abandonment. 

    What Other Surprising Online Shopping Trends Await Brands?

    While the future remains bright for ecommerce, accurately predicting whatever specific twists and turns might lay along the way remains a daunting challenge for online brands.

    For all the fancy bells and whistles ecommerce brings to the marketplace, one tried-and-true principle remains consistent: The best way to adapt to this ever-changing landscape is to listen to your customers and employ those insights to make some smart, data-driven decisions that delight them.

    Written by: Chris Caesar

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