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The retail industry has undergone its fair share of upheavals in the past few years, and the effects of those changes are still being felt today. From the shockwaves of the COVID-19 pandemic to the innovations introduced by new technologies, retail is poised for another year of evolution.
In the face of all this change — and with the added complications of an uncertain economy — retailers need to be aware of all the newest trends and technologies in the industry.
Many of the most prominent retail trends of 2022 have grown in importance, while others have faded in the face of new technology or industry developments that are expected to shape 2023.
Here’s an overview of some of the most important trends in retail to watch for in 2023.
Guide: The Complete Guide to Building Winning Shopping Experiences
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Technological innovations have been reshaping the retail industry at a near-constant pace for the past couple of decades, and this rate of change is only increasing.
Brands and retailers who don’t keep pace with innovation in 2023 are at risk of falling behind.
Voice search is already playing a prominent role in tech trends in retail. The total worldwide transaction value of ecommerce purchases made through voice assistants is expected to rise to $19.4 billion in 2023 — a 400% increase from 2021 ($4.6 billion), according to Statista. It’s now important that retailers index their pages for voice so they can take advantage of this growing approach to search.
Augmented reality (AR) is another relatively new technology that’s already being used to enhance the shopping experience both online and in-person.
From virtual fitting rooms to interactive in-store displays, brands and retailers are finding innovative ways to use AR to foster consumers’ enthusiasm about shopping and help them envision what it’s like to own a product.
Related to AR is virtual reality (VR), a technology that allows users to become fully immersed in a digital world. VR for retail isn’t quite ready yet, and it may not be in 2023, either. However, it will likely be part of the retail landscape sooner than expected, and forward-looking retailers and brands are already investing in the Metaverse, notes TechRepublic.
Social commerce is already one of the most significant new trends in retail, and its impact is poised to grow. According to The Future of Customer Engagement and Experience, social commerce is expected to generate $30.73 billion in 2023 and account for 20% of global e-retail sales.
Consumers’ willingness to buy directly from social media platforms jumped dramatically in 2022, according to Jungle Scout. The fastest-growing platform for social commerce is TikTok, which saw a 30% growth in social commerce in the third quarter of 2022 alone. Other leading platforms for social commerce include YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Related to social commerce is livestream shopping, which is already massively successful in East Asian markets. A 2020 Taobao stream earned $7.5 billion in just the first 30 minutes of the event, according to the South China Morning Post. Expect to see livestream shopping events pop up more often in the west as global brands recognize its potential.
The ecommerce boom initiated by the pandemic isn’t stopping any time soon. Insider Intelligence predicts that ecommerce will grow by 10.4% in 2023 and will account for 20.8% of all retail sales worldwide.
Though ecommerce is growing, growth is slowing as shoppers return to some of their pre-pandemic shopping habits. Consumers have become accustomed to the convenience of ecommerce, but, at the same time, many want the experiences provided by in-store shopping.
Successful brands and retailers cater to both of these desires.
Embracing omnichannel commerce will continue to be imperative. For example, consumers have shown a desire to be able to buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and buy online, return in store (BORIS), blurring the lines between digital and physical commerce. As noted by GlobeNewswire, the global BOPIS market is expected to reach $703.18 billion by 2027, growing by nearly 20% each year (2021 to 2027).
Consumers expect there to be no friction as they move between digital and in-person browsing, buying, and returning. Retailers and brands need to update their approaches to inventory, product presentation, and more to create a seamless omnichannel experience.
According to Forrester, “Ripple effects from the Great Resignation will force retailers and brands to invest more heavily — and more strategically — in automation in 2023."
This move toward automation will include investments in technologies that use artificial intelligence (AI) for necessary functions like customer service. It will also be seen inside brick-and-mortar stores as contactless payments and self-check-outs become increasingly common.
Autonomous shopping is a technology trend that takes in-store automation one step further by using AI to create cashier-free stores. Though it sounds futuristic, MS Dynamics World reports that industry leaders predict staff-free stores will become common within the next five years.
Automation can be a strategic approach for retailers struggling with the labor shortage or looking to give consumers the seamless convenience they expect from online shopping.
As climate change becomes more prominent in the news, sustainability will become an increasingly important factor for shoppers’ buying choices.
A Capgemini survey found that 79% of global consumers are changing their purchase preferences based on sustainability, and 66% have chosen to purchase products based on their environmental friendliness.
Environmental awareness is especially prominent among Generation Z and millennial consumers, with 72% of respondents between ages 25 to 35 saying that they feel happy when buying sustainable products (compared to 64% overall).
Brands and retailers have the potential to foster greater consumer satisfaction and loyalty over time by embracing sustainability in their packaging, supply chains, and operations — and communicating their efforts.
Innovative technologies able to meet evolving consumer demands are expected to define the retail environment of 2023.
Ecommerce will continue to grow while, at the same time, modernized in-store experiences and seamless omnichannel shopping will become key to consumer satisfaction.
The ripple effects of global events — including the labor shortage and the push for sustainability — will also impact how retailers operate over the coming year.
Ultimately, the brands and retailers that succeed in this changing world are those who can provide winning shopping experiences that evolve alongside consumers’ needs and expectations.
If you're curious about more trends in retail and other insider tips to win over consumers in 2023 and beyond, download “The Complete Guide to Building Winning Shopping Experiences.”download now
Nicole D’Angelo (she/her) is a freelance writer, editor, and content marketer with over eight years of experience creating content for a broad range of industries. Before launching her freelance business, she managed content production for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) brands, including...
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