Each year, the experts at Novatize present the eCommerce trends to watch. Following on from the 2023 trends, most of which are still evolving, Novatize presents an overview of the 10 eCommerce trends to watch out for in 2024. Online shopping shows no signs of slowing down. In Canada, 22% of people expect to make more purchases via eCommerce platforms, and 63% expect to make the same number of purchases (1).
Canadians’ eCommerce consumption behaviors have greatly evolved in recent years. Discover the study produced by Novatize in collaboration with Leger on consumer behavior trends in Canada.
1. Unified Commerce
Unified commerce is an approach that aims to seamlessly and consistently integrate all a company’s sales channels, whether online, in-store, on marketplaces, mobile apps or other. The aim of unified commerce is to create a seamless shopping experience for customers, where they can interact with the brand in a seamless way, whether online or offline, and have access to the same range of products, the same promotions, and consistent customer service, whatever channel they use. Find out more about the definition of unified commerce and how it differs from omnichannel commerce.
1.1 CDP (Customer Data Platform)
Customer Data Platforms (CDP) will be crucial to unified commerce. They enable centralized management of customer information, leading to more personalized interactions and greater loyalty. eCommerce leaders such as Klaviyo, SAP and Salesforces have launched or enhanced their Customer Data Platforms in recent months.
1.2 Loyalty and reward programs
Merging loyalty and rewards programs will deliver a seamless customer experience. It is now essential for customers to accumulate rewards in a unified way, regardless of the purchase channel. In fact, 26% of Canadians say they want better loyalty programs (2). Customers want to be able to access their privileges, whether they buy online, in-store, via an app or otherwise.
1.3 Hybrid consumption patterns
Hybrid consumer trends are gaining in popularity. The relationship between the physical and online shopping baskets is becoming increasingly fluid. The “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) option is a good example. It offers customers the convenience of picking up their orders in person, strengthening the link between online and physical commerce. In fact, 64% of Canadians still want to try out their products in person (3). There are therefore challenges and changes to be made in terms of inventory management and shipping for merchants.
1.4 In-store unified commerce experience
For example, “Scan & Go” technology is revolutionizing the in-store experience. Customers scan their items as they buy them. This allows them to avoid queuing at the checkout or to reserve an item they absolutely must pick up. 20% of Canadians are interested in using “Scan & Go” technologies, but it’s more popular worldwide (34%) (4).
There are also emerging trends such as dynamic in-store displays, where the price tag on the tablet, for example, lights up to help shoppers find a product they have previously searched for online. Consumers can also consult the retailer’s website or mobile application while in the store. 34% of Canadians are interested in using the retailer’s site or application to help them find a product while shopping in-store (5).
2. Composable Commerce
Composable commerce, also known as modular commerce, is an approach that involves building an eCommerce infrastructure from modular components, enabling companies to customize their system to their specific needs. Find out more about the principles of composable commerce, headless and MACH architecture in eCommerce.
2.1 More efficient and flexible eCommerce ecosystems
Composable commerce offers companies greater freedom, as they can choose the specific technological components that match their needs. This translates into optimized performance and increased adaptability. Flexibility is at the heart of composable commerce. Companies can add, remove or replace components as their needs evolve, making them agile in the face of market changes.
2.2 Headless accessibility
Headless architectures (decoupling the front-end and back-end layers) are gaining in accessibility, enabling richer, faster user experiences even for SMEs.
2.3 MACH Architecture
In the past, companies favored monolithic architectures. Today, eCommerce leaders are turning to MACH architectures. Composable commerce often relies on a MACH architecture, which consists of Microservices (M), APIs (A), Cloud (C) and Headless (H). This architecture favors modularity and scalability, enabling companies to create tailor-made eCommerce solutions with more efficient internationalization.
3. Privacy and Security
Privacy is at the heart of consumer and business concerns in 2024. As laws tighten and awareness of data protection grows, it is imperative for merchants to strengthen their commitment to privacy, but also brings marketing challenges as tracking parameters are increasingly regulated. 19% of Canadian consumers will limit their purchases from a company if they are not confident that their personal information is protected (6).
3.1 Data protection legislation
The arrival of Bill 25 in Canada imposes strict obligations regarding the collection, storage and processing of personal customer data. Companies must now comply with these regulations and guarantee transparency in their use of data.
3.2 Limitation in tracking options
With security and privacy in mind, the majority of technology giants such as Apple, Google and Meta are making major changes to the way they process and track customer data. For example, the launch of IOS 17 is having a significant impact on the performance metrics of eCommerce merchants. Marketers need to adapt their strategies accordingly, and focus on first and zero party data.
3.3 Fraud prevention and biometric verification
Fraud prevention and biometric verification play a crucial role in privacy protection. Companies need to invest in advanced fraud detection technologies to identify and block fraudulent transactions, while using biometric verification, which relies on unique features such as fingerprints or facial recognition, to enhance transaction security and prevent unauthorized access to accounts.
4. Taking the User Experience to Another Level
Consumers are increasingly diverse when it comes to online shopping. They are also increasingly demanding when it comes to personalizing their experience.
4.1 Augmented reality (AR)
Augmented reality will transform the way customers interact with products online, offering immersive experiences. Customers can make more informed choices by seeing the product from all angles and testing it in their own space. Find out more about the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality, and see examples of eCommerce applications [French only].
4.2 Voice V-Commerce
Voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Google Home are becoming essential sales methods. Companies need to optimize their voice content and focus on voice SEO to offer a personalized experience and adapt to this new consumer trend. To discover the adoption of V-Commerce in Canada, download the results of the study produced by Novatize in collaboration with Leger.
4.3 Interactive experiences and self-service
Users want to be increasingly autonomous in their purchasing process. We can offer onsite tools that allow users to build and visualize their personalized product, calculators, comparators and much more.
4.4 Live shopping
Live broadcasts for online shopping will grow in popularity, allowing customers to see products in action on Instagram, YouTube, Twitch or elsewhere. To discover the adoption of Live Shopping in Canada, download the results of the study produced by Novatize in collaboration with Leger.
4.5 One-click Checkout
The One-Click Checkout reduces online payment steps to a single click, improving efficiency and sales conversion. In 2024, this fast payment method remains a major asset for companies seeking to build customer loyalty and simplify the shopping experience. The challenge is to offer all payment options, but keep checkout as simple as possible.
4.6 Product offers enhanced with services
Customers are looking for a shopping experience that is consistent with their values and those of the brand. Merchants will now be offering complementary services, such as training content offered with an LMS (Learning Management System), events where a community of customers can get together, advice and support services, and so on. All these new features can create complex technological specificities to be implemented via the eCommerce platform.
5. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
In 2023, advances in Artificial Intelligence have had an impact on working practices across all industries. eCommerce merchants have been using tools powered by AI for several years, and here are the ones that will stand out the most in 2024.
Chatbots and virtual assistants are positioning themselves as valuable allies in online customer service. They answer customer questions, facilitate the purchasing process, and provide instant support. These conversational tools improve operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. With advances in natural language processing, conversational tools are becoming increasingly relevant and enjoyable to use.
5.2 eMerchandising and product recommendations
Machine learning propels recommendation systems to new heights, offering more precise and relevant shopping suggestions. Algorithms better understand customer preferences, anticipate their needs and create hyper-personalized shopping experiences.
5.3 Search tools
Intelligent search engines on eCommerce sites use AI algorithms to improve the relevance of results. Users can more easily find products that match their needs, boosting satisfaction and conversion rates.
5.4 Inventory management and sales prediction
AI is used to optimize inventory management and predict purchasing trends. In this way, companies can better anticipate demand, reduce overstocking and guarantee the availability of the most popular products at different times of the year.
5.5 Image and text generation and SEO optimization
Artificial intelligence is also revolutionizing content creation by automating image and text generation. What’s more, it optimizes search engine optimization (SEO) by identifying the most relevant keywords and improving visibility on search engines. These advances enable companies to become more efficient and competitive.
Consumers, increasingly sensitive to environmental and social issues, are looking for brands and products aligned with their values. eCommerce companies are adapting accordingly to meet this growing demand.
6.1 Greener eCommerce practices
Green eCommerce aims to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint. Companies are adopting more environmentally-friendly practices, such as using sustainable materials, reducing carbon emissions and managing waste responsibly. Some practices, however, are less visible. Find out more about the invisible impact of eCommerce on the environment. Consumers are increasingly inclined to support companies committed to environmental sustainability. In fact, 64% of Canadians are prepared to pay more for products made from recycled, sustainable or ecological materials (7), and 45% are prepared to opt for the most environmentally-friendly delivery method available, and to encourage sustainable return practices (8). Discover 10 tips to limit the environmental impact of your eCommerce delivery process.
To see all Novatize’s tips on this subject, consult the sustainable development guide: how to green your eCommerce.
6.2 Ethical eCommerce
Ethical trade means guaranteeing fair working conditions throughout the supply chain. Companies strive to work with socially responsible suppliers and partners, ensuring that workers are treated fairly and remunerated appropriately. Transparency is essential, and consumers are increasingly demanding and attaching greater importance to it. In fact, 63% of Canadians are prepared to pay more for products sold by a company with a reputation for ethics (9). The demonstration of ethics is also reflected in the user experience, where we are striving for an increasingly inclusive experience and accessible experience.
6.3 Social purpose brands
Beyond limiting impact and sustainable eCommerce practices, some companies are making it their mission to do so. Brands with social missions are gaining in popularity. These companies are committed to solving social and environmental problems, and donate a portion of their profits to causes close to their hearts. Consumers appreciate these committed brands, as they enable them to contribute to a real positive impact.
7. Optimizing eCommerce Logistics
Companies have learned a lot about logistics since the pandemic of 2020. Logistics optimization is a key element in driving efficiency and competitiveness in eCommerce in 2024. 27% of Canadians want cheaper deliveries, 16% want faster deliveries and 11% want better tracking of their deliveries (10).
7.1 Reducing reverse logistics costs
Managing returns, or reverse logistics, is a challenge facing eCommerce companies. In 2024, the focus is on reducing the costs associated with this process. Companies are investing in solutions to facilitate returns and minimize losses, while improving the customer’s experience when he or she wishes to return a product. Many companies are even limiting returns and accepting fewer and fewer free returns. On the other hand, 24% of Canadians say they are irritated when there are fees for online returns.
7.2 Same Day Delivery
Speed of delivery is a major differentiating factor for eCommerce companies. Amazon is greatly raising standards and expectations in this area. By 2023, 20% of companies want to accelerate their delivery times (11). Same Day Delivery has gained in popularity, especially for fast-moving consumer goods and food. Merchants are rethinking their logistics to offer ever shorter delivery times in urban areas, meeting the expectations of customers demanding speed and convenience.
7.3 Optimizing logistics to meet new unified business models
Unified commerce, a major trend for 2024, requires specific logistics optimizations. Companies need to integrate their online and offline sales channels seamlessly, which means rethinking inventory management, distribution and logistics to ensure a seamless customer experience. Discover tools like Shopify POS for an even more powerful omnichannel commerce experience.
8. B2B eCommerce Transformation
The B2B eCommerce transformation of 2024 is a significant evolution in the way companies interact and transact. In general, B2B companies are less mature than B2C companies in terms of eCommerce maturity. They also have very different motivations. Find out more about B2B eCommerce implementation: 6 key challenges for an optimized launch.
8.1 B2B portals
B2B purchasing portals are becoming a must for companies wishing to simplify their wholesale purchasing. These platforms offer a user-friendly, personalized online purchasing experience, enabling B2B buyers to place orders, manage procurement and track deliveries efficiently. Leading CMS such as Shopify and Adobe Commerce (Magento) offer B2B eCommerce solutions that are gaining in popularity.
8.2 eCommerce to boost B2B operational efficiency
eCommerce is increasingly being used to boost operational efficiency in the B2B sector. Companies are deploying digital solutions to streamline processes, optimize inventory management and improve collaboration with trading partners. The aim is to increase productivity and reduce costs, while maintaining solid business relationships.
9. Niche and B2B Marketplaces
Niche and B2B marketplaces represent a growing trend in the eCommerce landscape in 2024. These specialized platforms target specific audiences and provide diversification. They enable brands to sell into new markets more easily and quickly.
9.1 Specialized marketplaces
Specialized marketplaces focus on specific product categories or industries. They offer an in-depth, targeted shopping experience for consumers with special interests. Whether for luxury goods, beauty products, outdoor equipment or other niches, specialized marketplaces meet the needs of demanding buyers. Solutions like Mirakl connect enable integration with multiple marketplaces.
More and more traditional retailers are creating their own marketplaces to broaden their offer and provide a unique platform for their customers. These marketplaces enable brands to collaborate with third parties, expand their product assortment and compete with major eCommerce players.
9.2 Re-Commerce marketplaces
Second-hand marketplaces, or re-Commerce, are gaining in popularity at a time when sustainability and reuse are at the heart of consumer concerns. These platforms make it possible to buy, sell and trade second-hand items ranging from clothing to electronics. Re-Commerce marketplaces support the reduction of waste and encourage customers to adopt a more responsible approach.
10. Socio-Economic Factors
It is impossible to present the 2024 trends without taking into account the economic and social situation, which has a significant impact on eCommerce in all industries. Companies are facing major challenges.
10.1 Recession, inflation, rising cost of living
Economic fluctuations, inflation and the rising cost of living influence the purchasing behavior of Canadian consumers. In fact, almost half (47%) say they are very or extremely worried about their personal finances (12). In times of possible recession, they may be more cautious in their spending, looking for deals and promotions. 68% of Canadians say they want to buy more essentials on sale, and 66% intend to shop more for sales and bargains (13). Shoppers are turning to platforms that generally offer the best prices, such as Amazon or Walmart. Customers will also tend to use payment methods tailored to their needs, such as BNPLs (Buy Now, Pay Later) like Sezzle.
Businesses need to be flexible and reactive to adapt to these economic changes by proposing adapted pricing strategies and offering exceptional value to their customers. Find out more about the essential KPIs for eCommerce businesses to monitor during an economic downturn.
10.2 The labor shortage
Labor shortages are a major challenge for many eCommerce businesses. The booming sector requires skilled talent to manage operations, logistics, customer service and much more. Companies are encouraged to use technology to limit the impact of this shortage. These include warehouse robotization, customer service automation and much more. There’s also a trend in eCommerce project methodology, with some companies involving more departments in platform management. As a result, all employees need to be equipped and autonomous to perform day-to-day management actions on the eCommerce platform.
Unfortunately, the labor shortage situation is unlikely to improve quickly. 46% of CEOs in the consumer goods sector expect an increase in resignations and retirements in 2023 (14).
2024 promises to be a challenging year for eCommerce businesses. By drawing inspiration from the trends best suited to your situation and needs, you’ll be able to make the most of 2024. To plan your annual eCommerce strategy or learn more about the trends to watch, contact an expert at Novatize.
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(1) Perspectives de la vente en ligne au Canada 2023, Postes Canada