21+ Online Shopping Trends Changing Ecommerce

In the rapidly changing world of ecommerce, a static approach just won’t cut it.

Smart ecommerce companies adapt to online shopping trends to take advantage of the newest technologies and changes in consumer behavior.

These 22+ ecommerce trends tell a story behind the data: the story of a new set of best practices.

To maximize your success in the ecommerce world, check out these essential ecommerce trends and statistics:

  1. Mobile commerce
  2. Social commerce
  3. TikTok shops
  4. Augmented reality shopping
  5. Virtual reality shopping
  6. Personalization and customization
  7. Eco-friendly packaging
  8. Influencer marketing
  9. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  10. User-generated content
  11. Subscription models
  12. Ecommerce gamification
  13. Peer-to-peer selling
  14. Local ecommerce
  15. Secondhand and thrift shopping online
  16. Online groceries
  17. Ethical ecommerce
  18. Direct-to-consumer brands
  19. Virtual try-ons
  20. Buy now, pay later
  21. Global markets
  22. Visual search

1. Mobile Commerce

More consumers than ever before are making purchases from portable devices like smartphones and tablets—a phenomenon known as mobile commerce or m-commerce.

In 2022, mobile commerce spending in the United States surpassed $387 billion.

Despite being less than a trillion dollars in 2018, by 2023 the global m-commerce market had reached an astounding $2.2 trillion in value, a trend experts project will only intensify as time goes on.

Currently, Amazon’s titanic shopping app is leading the mobile shopping app with the most downloads, towering over second-place fast fashion retailer SHEIN.

2. Social Commerce Integration

Around 48% of social media users say they’ve impulsively purchased something they saw on social media, while about 30% report that social media creators influence their purchasing decisions.

However, China is leading the social commerce charge with an incredible 84% of Chinese consumers shopping on social media platforms.

According to a 2023 survey by HubSpot, 33% of social media marketers say Instagram offers the highest ROI for direct sales.

social media platforms based on highest ROI
Global HubSpot survey of 1,000+ social media marketers

3. TikTok Shops

In 2022, only 9.6% of TikTok users made a purchase directly from the platform. By 2023, that number had climbed to just over 33% and is predicted to grow to nearly 40% by 2026.

While other platforms like Instagram removed their shop from users’ home screens, TikTok is tied for second place for the highest ROI for marketers.

4. Augmented Reality (AR) Shopping

About 90% of Americans use or say they would consider using augmented reality (AR) for shopping.

percentage of Americans that would use augmented reality
A study by Google concluded that the vast majority of Americans would consider using AR if they aren’t already.

Of the Americans who have already used AR for online shopping, 98% of them found it helpful.

However, AR still has a long way to go—only 6% of American shoppers expect to use AR, and a meager 16% of retailers report using AR tools during their sales phase.

Companies like IKEA, Nike, and Sephora have incorporated AR into their ecommerce (and retail) platforms with great success.

5. Virtual Reality (VR) Shopping

While Augmented Reality overlays virtual content onto a real-world setting, virtual reality (VR) creates an immersive, completely virtual setting.

While as many as 37% of U.S. consumers report wanting VR tools in their online shopping experience, a 2020 survey suggested that 76% of tech experts anticipate that AR will surpass VR in market value.

Currently, there are over 65 million VR users in the United States, split nearly 50/50 between those who use VR headsets and non-headset users.

6. Personalization and Customization

One of the benefits of ecommerce for consumers is the ability to receive personalized service and customized products.

The consumer’s desire for personalization is nothing new—back in 2017, a Forrester study concluded that “77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.”

percentage of consumers that recommend personalization from a brand
Study by Forrester Research on impact of personalization for consumers

In the preceding years, personalization tools have grown in leaps and bounds, allowing ecommerce companies to meet that consumer need like never before.

Companies like Target and Spotify that master personalization generate 40% more revenue than their traditional counterparts.

7. Eco-Friendly Packaging

A 2023 survey of 9,000 consumers found that an incredible 82% were willing to pay more for sustainable packaging.

Another 71% of consumers report actively choosing products based on the sustainability factor of their packaging.

Eco-friendly packaging is a primary consideration for many young consumers and high earners, but 46% say that unclear labeling on the packaging is their biggest barrier to purchase.

Companies like Kellogg are pushing for sustainable packaging—not just to attract consumers, but also to protect natural resources.

8. Influencer Marketing

In 2023, the global influencer marketing market was worth an estimated $21.1 billion.

That’s higher than the GDP of around 90 countries globally, including Jamaica, Nicaragua, and The Bahamas.

When Dunkin’ Donuts launched a multi-layered collaboration with TikTok influencer Charli D’Amelio, they struck gold.

Within just five days, they had sold hundreds of thousands of orders of her new signature drink (fittingly named “The Charli”), which experienced a 20% overall sales boost the day of the launch and a 45% increase the next day.

9. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Around 64% of businesses anticipate that artificial intelligence (AI) will improve customer relationships and increase productivity, while an incredible 97% say they believe ChatGPT will help their business.

AI and machine learning (ML) fuel tools like automated customer service chatbots, personalization engines, and data analytics.

Giants like Google and Amazon are heavily invested in AI, while Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says Microsoft aims to lead AI transformation.

10. User-Generated Content

While social media platforms are fueled by user-generated content, YouTube Shorts, for example, reached two billion monthly logged-in users in July 2023—users who created the content that made YouTube Shorts so successful.

Over 40% of American consumers say they read user-generated reviews of local businesses, and only 2% say they never read online reviews.

Tripadvisor alone has accumulated over a billion reviews. In their 2023 transparency report, that number increased to 73 million more reviews in 2022.

Tripadvisor reviews and opinions
Tripadvisor received 73 million new reviews and opinions in 2022 alone

11. Subscription Models

In 2023, the number of average subscriptions per person rose by 6.5% from 2.46 to 2.62.

In the world of subscription boxes, Dollar Shave Club tops the charts with over 4 million subscribers.

However, video streaming giant Netflix overshadows those numbers with an astounding 201 million subscribers.

12. Ecommerce Gamification

Ecommerce companies that use gamified features like point systems, loyalty programs, and leaderboards report a 30% increase in user engagement and a 15-50% increase in conversion rates.

Gamification in e-commerce

Lego uses gamification to boost engagement with its new loyalty program—a form of gamification itself.

Appropriate for a company that uses the tagline “Serious Play”!

13. Peer-to-Peer Selling

The peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace exceeded $1 billion in 2021, $1.2 billion in 2022, and is projected to reach $5.1 billion by 2032.

AttributesDetails
Peer-to-Peer Marketplace Market Estimated Size (2022)US$ 1.2 Billion
Projected Market ValuationUS$ 5.1 Billion
Value-based CAGR% (2022 to 2032)15.5%
Top 5 Vendor Market ShareAround 20%

Airbnb, one of the leading P2P platforms, has nearly tripled its revenue since 2019, seeing a 77% increase in 2021, another 40% increase in 2022, and yet another 23% increase by June 2023 to a high of $9 billion for the 12 months ending June 2023.

14. Local Ecommerce

While national brands dominate the ecommerce space, more consumers than ever are turning to ecommerce channels to support local businesses.

About 70% of American consumers report shopping online at local businesses, and 57% say they shop at small businesses to invest in their local community.

15. Secondhand and Thrift Shopping Online

Around 93% of Americans shop for used items online, compared to only 16-18% that shop at brick-and-mortar thrift stores.

Globally, experts anticipate that the global secondhand clothing market will grow by another 127% by 2026.

Online consignment and thrift store thredUP’s 2023 annual resale report indicates that online resale is the fastest-growing sector in the U.S. secondhand apparel market.

secondhand apparel market
This chart from thredUP shows that secondhand purchasing is the fastest-growing segment of apparel retail.

16. Online Groceries

Experts predict that food and beverage retail ecommerce revenue will exceed $47 billion in revenue by 2025.

While companies like HelloFresh and Amazon are fully ecommerce, hybrid companies like Walmart operate physical retail stores with ecommerce delivery and shipping options.

Companies like Instacart and Shipt allow customers to shop locally while still reaping the benefits of the ecommerce user experience.

17. Ethical Ecommerce

Consumers are more concerned with marketing ethics today than ever before, with 65% reporting that they see it as crucial that brands respect their privacy in ecommerce transactions.

Consumers also care about ethically sourced products, such as cruelty-free and sustainable practices.

In a study of consumer ethics, researcher Jacob Teeny reports that “morality is a strong influence on our behavior—even stronger than some of the other elements of our attitudes that have been previously shown to influence consumer behavior.”

18. Direct-to-Consumer Brands

In recent years, the direct-to-consumer (D2C) business model has disrupted the ecommerce industry.

In 2022, approximately 64% of global consumers say they regularly make purchases directly from brands.

This is in contrast to the B2C model where consumers typically make purchases from an intermediary platform like a reseller or retailer.

In the U.S. alone, experts predict that D2C ecommerce will reach $212 billion by the end of 2024.

Today, Chewy is the highest-trafficked D2C website in the United States, capturing 607 million hits worldwide.

19. Virtual Try-Ons

Despite being relatively uncommon (virtual try-ons are popular with about 12% of U.S. online shoppers), 85% of those who have tried virtual try-ons report being happy with their experience and a further 60% say they are more likely to buy from brands that offer virtual try-ons in the future.

percentage of consumers that have used virtual try-on
While most shoppers have not tried virtual try-ons, those who have tend to be happy with their experience.

Warby Parker uses virtual try-ons to guarantee happy customers—offering virtual try-on options on both their website and mobile app.

20. Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL)

About 35% of Americans have used buy now, pay later (BNPL) to finance a purchase.

In a survey of BNPL users, 48% used the financing option to make a purchase they couldn’t otherwise afford, while 26% said they missed at least one payment.

Most ecommerce companies don’t finance BNPL programs internally or through traditional financial institutions, but partner with third-party services like Klarna and PayPal.

Related reading: 21+ Buy Now, Pay Later Statistics

21. Global Markets

Global ecommerce sales are on track to reach $6.4 trillion by 2024. Particularly for digital-first companies, geographical barriers are becoming a lower priority for online stores.

While international companies like China’s Alibaba and Spain’s Zara are popular with Americans, U.S.-based retailers like Amazon and eBay are popular with international audiences.

22. Visual Search

Powered by AI, visual search tools like Google Lens and Microsoft’s Bing Image Search allow consumers to search for products online from images with no text or brand names needed.

About 36% of consumers have used visual search when shopping online—perfect for the 74% of consumers who say traditional text-based keyword searches are inefficient.

Expert Insights on Online Shopping Trends

Speaking on the ecommerce user experience, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”

Jason Goldberg, founder and CEO of Fab.com, shared a similar sentiment about the ways ecommerce is promoting great experiences: “In the beginning, e-commerce was about getting commodity products online as cheaply as possible. Now, we’re moving into the more exciting phase of e-commerce, where it’s about emotional products – the things people really cherish.”

Conclusion

As ecommerce grows in popularity, it is also evolving in terms of offerings, consumer behavior, and customer expectations.

Personalized experiences fueled by digital tools are rocketing ecommerce from a niche subcategory of retail to the primary way tomorrow’s consumers will shop.

Donny is the founder of SMB Guide. He is a seasoned small business owner and entrepreneur, with over 17+ years of experience growing and building companies. He is a well traveled and multi-faceted individual with several successful six figure business exits.