The holiday season of 2023 is shaping up to be an exciting one. If we take into account the ongoing market trends, it is safe to say that modern shopping will look quite different from what it was 15 years ago. But, if retailers wish to engage modern customers, it is vital that they are aware of these trends. So, let's take an in-depth look into what holiday shopping will look like for 2023.
Holiday shopping 2023
The main shopping trend of 2023 is eCommerce. For those who are familiar with shipping evolved, this won't come as much of a surprise. Both brands and customers alike have benefited and will continue to benefit from online shopping. Smaller brands have an easier market entry, as they don't have to spend money on a physical store. And, they can easily create an engaging online store. Larger brands have the ability to weave their marketing with their eCommerce, thus providing a smooth shopping experience. From the customer's perspective, online shopping is the most comfortable way to shop by far. After all, the ability to research, compare, and purchase products with only a few clicks is hard to compete with.
So, if we are talking about holiday shopping in 2023, we ought to give most of our attention to online shopping. Now, there are three key technologies that shape modern eCommerce. These are mobile phones, AI, and social media. Going in-depth into all of them would be too much for a single article. Therefore, in order to understand holiday eCommerce, we will focus on specific aspects that impact it most. As you'll soon see, all three technologies profoundly shape all of these aspects, and will likely determine how we use online shopping in the foreseeable future.
Social commerce refers to the use of social media platforms and networks to enable online shopping and e-commerce transactions. It essentially blends elements of social media and e-commerce. Doing so allows consumers to discover, share, purchase, and review products or services directly within their social media experiences. Seeing how many people use social media on a daily basis, and how much time they tend to spend on it, it is safe to assume that social media will be a big shopping trend for the foreseeable future.
From the buyer's perspective, the benefits of using social media for shopping are manyfold. Firstly, buyers can discover new products or services through social media posts, ads, recommendations, and reviews. This is often facilitated by user-generated content and influencer marketing. Secondly, they can share their experiences with products, offer reviews, and make recommendations within social commerce platforms. Most purchasing decisions are based on customer reviews, which is a key reason why social media is the go-to place for product research.
From the store's perspective, social commerce provides new options for both marketing and customer management. Where this shines most is through personalization where brands can provide personalized product recommendations to users based on their interests and previous behavior. If the users feel comfortable and satisfied with the brand, they will likely easily share their purchases or wishlists with their social network. Doing so will generate organic promotion for products. Lastly, social media is the go-to option for live-streaming events. If you have a professional host that will showcase and discuss products, answer questions in real time, and encourage immediate purchases, there is no better place than social media.
Since we've mentioned personalization, let's outline why it is another defining shopping trend for years to come. Simply put, personalization is using customer data to determine the most effective way to engage a customer. If brands wish to gain the customer's attention, they will have to rely on personalization in some shape or form. Retailers may invest in more personalized shopping experiences, using AI and data analytics to recommend products tailored to individual preferences and past purchase history. The marketing manager will have to monitor which target demographics react best to different content and thus alter their marketing strategy. All in all, while personalization has been a gimmick in the past, it is slowly becoming a necessity. This is why we believe that it will not only have a profound impact on the 2023 holiday season but for the years to come.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
One of the shopping trends that often flies under the radar is AR and VR shopping. While AR and VR technologies are not as accessible as social media, they are accessible enough to have a decent market share for 2023. VR and AR technologies allow customers to virtually try on clothing, view products in their homes, or experience products in interactive ways. When made properly, such experiences can be quite immersive and can give stores a unique way to present their products. Unfortunately, properly showcasing products in VR and AR will require some investment. But, seeing how immersive these experiences are, we can easily see larger brands opting for VR and AR shopping. After all, what better way to make your brand stand out than to provide a virtual 3D store?
Subscription services in online shopping can be especially appealing during the holiday season for both consumers and businesses. When you take a closer look, it is easy to see that subscriptions can make excellent holiday gifts. A customer can purchase subscriptions for their loved ones, offering a thoughtful and ongoing present that can last well beyond the holiday season. Subscription boxes, in particular, are often curated around themes that are perfect for gifting.
Also keep in mind that the holiday season is usually hectic, with many people searching for gifts and dealing with busy schedules. In contrast, subscription services are a convenient option for gift-giving. After all, it is quite easy to order once and have gifts automatically sent to recipients throughout the year.
Keep in mind that subscription services don't have to be generic. Many subscription services offer unique and personalized products that can cater to various interests and hobbies. This makes them an attractive option for those looking to give a meaningful and tailored gift. And seeing that there's a wide range of subscription services available, covering diverse niches, from beauty and fashion to food and fitness, it is safe to assume that more people than ever will opt for it during the holiday seasons of 2023.
Easier checkout processes
Now, with all these options for online shopping in 2023, it is only natural to wonder how will retailers compete. Well, one of the ways to stand out is to offer as much comfort as possible. What we expect is that retailers will continue to streamline the online shopping experience with faster and more secure checkout processes. Onboarding is a big subject in eCommerce, where stores look for new ways to drive interested customers to their purchases as quickly and smoothly as possible. This includes options like one-click purchasing and digital wallets, where purchases are near instant. All in all, we wouldn't be surprised if new technologies make online shopping far more streamlined and intuitive than it ever was before.
Another way for retailers to stand out is to practice sustainable shopping. This is a continuation of a general trend towards sustainable and more eco-friendly business practices. In the case of online shopping, this can range from sustainable sourcing and production where you make sure to use eco-friendly and sustainable materials in product manufacturing. To product design and packaging where you minimize packaging waste by using eco-friendly materials and reducing excess packaging. In our view, more and more retailers will turn to sustainable shopping practices, as it allows them to be a part of the solution, and not the problem.
But, a word of warning for retailers that are considering this option to boost their holiday sales. If you wish to promote yourself as an eco-friendly online store, it is important that you do so honestly. While eco-conscious customers will opt to do business with you, they will ruin your reputation if they find out that you are dishonest. So, if you wish to adopt green business practices, do so because you believe in them, and not simply as a way to market your brand.
If there is one staple of holiday shopping that persists throughout the years it's last-minute shopping. Namely, what people tend to do is to put away their shopping until the last possible day. While retailers are aware of this, handling last-minute shopping during the holiday season can be a significant challenge for online stores. After all, customers expect their orders to be delivered on time for the holidays. And, without prior preparation, this isn't always possible.
One way in which online stores handle the holiday season is by extending shipping deadlines. Online stores can extend their shipping deadlines for holiday delivery and clearly communicate these dates to customers. This gives shoppers more time to place their orders. While this is a solution, it is not the best solution as it will leave a large number of customers disgruntled. Better-prepared shops tend to offer expedited shipping options, including same-day or next-day delivery, which is ideal for last-minute shoppers. The way in which they balance this extra shipping option is that they require extra payments for faster service.
Now, it is important to mention that no shipping solution can help you if your inventory is low or mismanaged. This is why retailers tend to implement real-time inventory tracking to prevent customers from placing orders for out-of-stock items. Accurate inventory management helps avoid disappointment and delays. They also increase customer support resources, including live chat, email, and phone support, to assist customers with questions, issues, or order inquiries promptly. It is best to set aside a portion of inventory specifically for last-minute shoppers to ensure that there are still products available, even as the holiday season progresses.
What about in-store shopping?
What we've outlined so far may give you the impression that holiday shopping in 2023 will be all about online shopping. And, while a large number of people will choose to shop online, an equally large number will opt for the old-fashioned way of shopping. After all, no online store can mimic the feel and the joy of traditional holiday shopping.
It is important to note that modern in-store shopping during the holiday season continues to evolve with the integration of technology and changing consumer expectations. Retailers employ various strategies to enhance the holiday shopping experience and strive to make it more convenient, efficient, and overall enjoyable for customers.
While some people like in-store shopping, nobody likes crowds. So, to manage the long lines during peak shopping times, some stores implement virtual queuing systems that allow customers to join a queue remotely and receive alerts when it's their turn to shop. Doing so adds a bit of comfort and relaxation to the whole ordeal.
Augmented Reality (AR)
As an extension to what we've outlined, retailers may incorporate AR experiences to enhance the in-store shopping process. This could include virtual try-ons, interactive displays, or gamified shopping experiences. Customers can use AR software on their phones to get information about products. Even QR codes can be a useful marketing tool, in this regard. Doing so is a great way to reaffirm your eco-friendly practices and convince your customers to use your app.
If possible, you should also provide interactive displays for interested customers. In a similar fashion, these can provide additional product information, and reviews, and allow customers to explore product details and features. Furthermore, through them, you can have better control of your app and your AR software.
Special holiday events
Holidays are the best season to offer something new and exciting in your store. This is why retailers often host special holiday events, such as product launches, customer appreciation days, or holiday-themed, limited-time offers to create a festive atmosphere and encourage more in-store traffic. A well-timed event can introduce a crowd to a new store, and help an old store refresh its look.
Extended store hours
Another common trope during holidays is for stores to extend their operating hours. Doing so helps accommodate the increased demand and provides more flexibility to shoppers. As you can imagine, this is immensely helpful for last-minute shoppers.
Gift Wrapping Services
A great way to motivate people to shop and your store is to offer free gift wrapping services. Doing so saves customers time and effort during the holiday rush. And provides a clear reason why the customers should pick that store over the competition.
Lastly, it is important to note that a well-trained, attentive staff is a must. Store workers must help customers with product selection, answer questions, and address any concerns that they might have. They should also look to extend the holiday spirit with their behavior and help everyone feel happy and jolly.
Final thoughts on what will holiday shopping look like for 2023
If you plan on organizing your store for the upcoming holidays, we suggest that you do so promptly. Ideally, you will give your shoppers a clear incentive why they should shop with you. A unique idea, or a unique selling point, can be all you need to kick off your marketing and experience market success during the season. But, before you do, try to take careful account of what modern eCommerce is like, and what your audience will value most.