Subscriptions, supply chain and strategy – the eCommerce trends shaping online retail in 2024

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In December 2023, the UK retail industry faced a 32% decline in sales. As a result, the competition for retailers has become fierce, and they need to work hard to get noticed in this new landscape.

While many online retailers opt for off-the-shelf platforms like Shopify or Squarespace for rapid and low-cost eCommerce storefront development, these platforms may limit improving the user experience for both customers and staff due to restrictions on additional functionality and features.

However, in the dynamic landscape of eCommerce, businesses may find it challenging to decide which digital platforms, technologies and trends are most suitable for them. This leads to the crucial question: What should eCommerce managers prioritise to stay ahead in the market this year?

The experts at Enigma Interactive, a leading UK digital design agency have revealed the areas where retailers should focus over the next twelve months to tackle everything from improving customer engagement to boosting sales.

1.     Subscription-based models

Subscription services have become increasingly popular for a variety of products – ranging from the likes of dog food to contact lenses. These services provide customers with greater convenience and often come with incentives to encourage repeat subscriptions rather than a one-off purchase.

From a retailer’s perspective, subscriptions offer valuable insights into the preferences of their customers, as well as automating repeat purchases. By analysing customer data, retailers can gain a better understanding of how their customers’ buying habits may change over time, and can then offer personalised products and promotions tailored to their specific needs.

2.     Direct-to-consumer (DTC) selling

An emerging trend gaining momentum is direct-to-consumer (DTC) selling, exemplified by industry giant Dyson, who emphasises "buy direct from the people who made it" in their marketing messages.

DTC provides increased control over how a retailer's brand is portrayed and received by consumers. This control extends throughout the entire user experience, encompassing online transactions through to product delivery.

Smaller retailers can capitalise on this trend by investing in purpose-built platforms. This allows them to offer their products as a holistic experience, maintaining control over the perception of their brand. The investment in such a platform enables these retailers to shape a consistent brand image and elevate the overall customer journey.

3.     Community and brand engagement

The average person encounters between 6,000 to 10,000 advertisements on digital platforms every day. These ads are displayed on search engines, social media platforms, and other mediums to attract consumers and encourage them to buy products from retailers. If you have a limited marketing budget, it can be challenging to reach out to your target audience and compete with bigger brands.

People value loyalty, and that’s where smart and strategic tech solutions come in. The likes of automation, gamification, push notifications and loyalty schemes can transform your eCommerce store from a transaction to a captivating experience. In 2024, it’s not just about selling, it’s about creating meaningful relationships and experiences that make customers want to come back to your online store.

4.     A focus on UX

In 2024, only online retailers with the best user experience will be able to survive in the highly competitive market. If customers face any barriers to finding what they need quickly, they have more power than ever to switch to another retailer offering the same or similar product.

To ensure long-term success, brands should focus on providing seamless navigation between products, along with accurate search results and advanced filtering options. Learn more about the power of UX and content design for eCommerce here.

5.     Supply chain transparency

In 2023, online marketplaces like Temu and SHEIN experienced a surge in popularity, driven by their attractive pricing and clever marketing efforts. However, this success was accompanied by controversy.

Despite their appealing prices and persuasive marketing tactics, these platforms faced criticism for unethical production practices and extended shipping durations, sparking concerns about their environmental footprint.

Statista reports that two-thirds of Gen-Z shoppers prioritise brands with robust ethical and sustainable practices. To stay pertinent in 2024, eCommerce businesses must prioritise supply chain transparency and make substantial commitments to sustainability on their platforms.

6.     Blending offline and online shopping experiences

Not all eCommerce retailers operate exclusively online, presenting a genuine opportunity to leverage technology and seamlessly combine the advantages of online shopping with the in-store experience. While the trend in recent years has been to make in-person shopping more of an experience, the reality is that shoppers are primarily there to make purchases. Therefore, technology should focus on making the buying process easy and enjoyable.

Simplifying solutions is key, and it doesn’t have to be overly complex. Traditional retail often falls short with its restricted product range and the possibility of not having specific sizes, cutes, or colours in stock. To address this, integrating in-store technology allows customers to easily explore and buy from an extended product catalogue while in the physical store. Additionally, the option to have purchases shipped directly to their home provides a seamless omni-channel experience throughout the customer journey.

7.     Bringing it back to the strategy

Retailers often attempt to profit from the latest trends to quickly increase their revenue. However, it is crucial to consider how these trends align with the overall business strategy. Retailers should think about their long-term vision and identify any gaps that are preventing them from achieving it before exploring any trends or technologies.

If you're planning to upgrade your eCommerce store in 2024 and would like to speak to the team at Enigma Interactive, visit www.enigma-interactive.co.uk


 

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