When it comes to commerce trends there’s only one constant: change. If you looked back at five commerce trends articles from the past five years, the content of each would be almost entirely different. Sure there’d be some consistencies and overlaps, but generally commerce trends come and go almost overnight.
For example, spending habits have completely changed in the last 12 months, with 77% of consumers now saying they’re reducing spend on any non-essential items (more on that later).
That’s why e-commerce and brand managers need to keep their ears to the ground and stay abreast of any changes.
And that’s exactly why Bazaarvoice recently hosted INSPIRE — a global, in-person roadshow looking into the latest commerce trends, using lessons from industry pioneers and insights into innovative approaches to using authentic shopper content.
Commerce trends for 2024
Based on our latest consumer research and insights from global marketing leaders, here’s the biggest commerce trends we learned to guide your brand through 2024 and beyond.
1. Voice of the customer is your best sales tool
It’s no longer a secret that today’s shoppers want to hear about your products from their fellow shoppers, not from your brand. Ratings and reviews, social posts, Q&As, and other forms of user-generated content are all the physical form of the voice of your customer — and it’s what shoppers want to see.
- 55% of shoppers say they’re unlikely to buy a product that doesn’t feature any type of customer opinion-sharing content (like UGC)
- 78% of shoppers feel more confident in their purchase when they view shopper content
- 74% of consumers trust shopper content more than branded content on product pages
That’s because this content is perceived as more authentic and trustworthy. Putting this modern form of word-of-mouth marketing in front of consumers across every touchpoint in the buying journey (online and offline) is what’s going to inspire purchases.
But three quarters of brands say they still spend the majority of their budget on branded content. The takeaway? Balance your marketing channel mix with a more even mix of shopper- and branded-content and watch your sales soar.
Lifestyle brand Villeroy & Boch realized this and turned to the voice of the customer for their product pages. “User-generated content is one of the most trustworthy types of content a brand could show to their customers,” said Sabine Kaufmann, Head of e-commerce Operations Dining & Lifestyle.
It worked, too. The brand has since seen a 275% increase in conversion rate and a 29% increase in average order value.
2. Social is the new search
An exciting new commerce trend is one that is growing rapidly — social media is the new search engine. Shoppers, especially tech-savvy Gen Z, are increasingly turning to social media platforms for product discovery. Rather than typing “low rise jeans” into Google, they’re typing it into apps like Instagram and TikTok to see how products look on real customers in real life situations (there’s that voice of the customer again!)
According to our Shopper Experience Index, 58% of shoppers say they’ve discovered a product or service through social media (as opposed to 49% through search engines), but it’s not just for product discovery, either. Social shopping is now a full funnel experience.
The takeaway for your brand? You need to work on a social media SEO strategy to ensure you find your shoppers where they are.
3. The rise of value-seeking shoppers
Globally, 73% of consumers claim to have changed their spending habits. And before you get excited, they’re not spending more. Unsurprisingly given the cost of living crisis, there’s been a huge reduction in spending on practical and delayable items.
Even those consumers who are still spending, 62% of them say they seek out value-for-money information from shopper content. And that’s where the good news comes in: almost three quarters of shoppers are willing to try a different brand from one they normally buy.
Brand loyalty is being questioned as shoppers seek out more value which is a golden chance for you to win over a wave of new shoppers.
4. AI and machine learning is here to stay
It’s arguable that AI isn’t a commerce trend because there’s probably no bigger buzzword in the world currently than generative AI. It’s everywhere, and feels a bit like the wild west with AI seemingly popping up on every piece of marketing legislature.
But if you cut through some of the noise, those brands doing AI right are the ones who are future-proofing their business. According to our research, almost three quarters of shoppers have avoided leaving a review on at least one occasion because they didn’t know what to say. But imagine if you had the tools to assist them in their content creation? How much UGC could you collect, and at scale?
67% of shoppers think it would be helpful if e-commerce sites provided AI-powered coaching to help them leave a review. Your shoppers are willing, they just need the AI tools to give them the kick they need.
Generative AI does more than assist shoppers with content creation. Tools like Instagram photo captions powered by Generative AI can write Instagram captions for you, giving you back 80% more time to focus on more important things, like building out your social strategy.
5. The creator economy continues to grow
There’s a big debate between influencers vs. creators (spoiler alert: they’re the same thing) but however you refer to them, one thing rings true. The market of creators is valued at $250 billion, which is hardly a sum to scoff at. And that number is predicted to rise to $480 billion by 2027.
Almost every large brand we heard from at INSPIRE — Adidas, Michael Kors, Bazaarvoice — spoke to the value of creator marketing, because of the trusted voice it brings to brands.
These influencers are reliable, authentic content creators with followings ranging from nano (<10,000) up to mega (over one million), with varying engagement rates and prices. But it goes even further. Now 53% of shoppers identify themselves as UGC creators. The main challenge for brands though is finding that creator who perfectly encapsulates their ideal audience.
A pain point that Bazaarvoice identified with our recent acquisition of the affable.ai platform, the leading AI-driven influencer marketing solution. Bazaarvoice affable.ai enables you to easily identify the perfect creator for your brand, then connect, manage, and measure your collaboration.
Shopper Experience Index: Find even more commerce trends
Many of the takeaways and statistics from INSPIRE were based on volume 17 of our Shopper Experience Index — a report of 7,000 consumer respondents in seven different markets, and 465 global brands and retailers, looking into consumer behavior and expectations.
For further insights and commerce trends to guide your brand strategy, you can find the full report here.