In the field of e-commerce and digital marketplaces, constant evolution is the name of the game. 

As we face the challenges of 2024, online retailers find themselves in a landscape where trends are not only emerging but shaping the very future of the industry.

While in-person shopping has made a robust comeback, the thriving momentum of e-commerce persists.

Projections indicate a significant surge in worldwide retail e-commerce sales, poised to elevate from approximately 6 trillion US dollars to just over 8 trillion dollars by 2026.

Yet, with this impressive growth comes intensified competition, demanding that online retailers distinguish themselves by delivering unparalleled and personalised customer experiences. 

To achieve this, a comprehensive understanding of the prevailing industry trends and consumer behaviours influencing e-commerce becomes important.

Let us dive into the e-commerce landscape of 2024 as we discuss the top 5 trends that are set to redefine the online shopping experience

5 Trends That are Shaping E-Commerce in 2024

1. Seamless omnichannel experience

As we step into 2024, the success of online retailers hinges on the ability to deliver seamless omnichannel experiences.

In 2023, the resurgence of in-person shopping did not signal a decline in e-commerce; instead, consumers embraced a multi-faceted approach, exploring various channels and touchpoints throughout their purchasing journey.

Whether navigating through online stores, third-party marketplaces, social media apps, or brick-and-mortar establishments, consumers engage in researching, comparing, shopping, and seeking support across diverse platforms. The expectation is clear—effortless navigation with minimal disruptions.

Statistics reveal that a substantial 73% of retail consumers traverse multiple channels. Notably, retailers utilising three or more channels experience a remarkable 251% increase in customer engagement compared to their single-channel counterparts.

For a consistent brand experience, retailers must maintain a robust presence on all online platforms, encompassing their official website, social media platforms, and third-party marketplace shops like Amazon.

Furthermore, optimising the omnichannel customer experience requires seamless integration on the back end, ensuring that customers can seamlessly resume their buying journey regardless of where they left off.

The e-commerce trends of 2024, deeply intertwined with omnichannel experiences, include:

  • Enable flexible fulfilment, empowering customers to choose between online or in-store purchases, services, or returns.
  • Embrace social commerce decisively to avoid alienating millennial and Gen Z audiences.
  • Provide personalised customer service that empowers customers, putting them in control and at ease.

As we delve further into these trends, it becomes evident that brands capable of unifying their omnichannel strategy and offering seamless, personalised experiences are poised for success in 2024. 

2. Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionising e-commerce

Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionising e-commerce

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a game-changer in e-commerce, hitting the mainstream in 2023 with generative AI showcasing its power.

Ranked as the #2 trend for 2024, AI is a potent tool for online retailers, enabling personalised customer experiences, optimising logistics, and fine-tuning digital marketing.

With 97.2% of businesses investing in AI, and 91% maintaining ongoing commitments, retailers not embracing AI risk falling behind.

Online retailers stand to gain significantly from the strategic incorporation of AI, as it proves to be a formidable ally in several key areas:

  1. Personalising customer experiences and recommendations
  2. Optimising supply chain logistics and inventory management
  3. Fine-tuning digital marketing strategies to reach target audiences more effectively

The key is thoughtful integration, understanding risks, promoting transparency, and proactively addressing challenges in the 2024 e-commerce landscape.

3. Social Commerce Takes Center Stage

Younger millennials and Gen Z consumers dominate the market in social media.

83% of Gen Z consumers, their shopping journey begins on social media platforms.

Brands are capitalising on this trend by making it easy for users to discover and purchase directly through their favourite social apps, primarily Instagram and TikTok and to some extent in Facebook. This not only earns them social currency but also raises consumer expectations across the entire spectrum.

Projections indicate that social commerce is on track to reach an impressive $2.9 trillion by 2026. The message for retailers is clear—now is the time to embrace social commerce.

Projecting 2024 e-commerce trends, social commerce takes a front seat, emphasising the following key aspects:

  • Delivering seamless omnichannel commerce, empowering consumers to shape their buying journey.
  • Embracing authenticity in interactions with audiences.
  • Adopting a mobile-first approach to UX design is a topic we'll delve into further later.

4. Mobile-first's Importance in UX design

A striking 91% of consumers now make online purchases through their smartphones, and the dominance of mobile commerce is set to reach new heights.

Projections for 2024 anticipate that m-commerce will constitute a substantial 40.4% of all e-commerce sales.

Looking ahead to 2025, mobile commerce is expected to contribute $710 billion, accounting for 10.4% of all retail transactions

About 12 years ago, desktop websites were retrofitted to adapt to mobile devices.

The dynamics have evolved, and today, instead of retrofitting desktop sites for mobile, brands are strategically crafting experiences with a mobile-first approach.

Designing websites now prioritises mobile device then finish it off to be also desktop friendly.

Consumer preferences underscore the importance of mobile shopping experiences, prompting digital retailers to create purpose-built mobile-centric interfaces.

Key strategies include:

  • Implementing fingerprint and facial recognition technology to simplify tasks from logging in to checkout.
  • Developing dedicated mobile apps with e-commerce features optimised for smaller screens.
  • Providing mobile-friendly payment options, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, to streamline the checkout process.

5. Inflation is Affecting Buyer’s Behaviour

Inflation loomed large in 2023, and as we enter 2024, it remains a significant concern shaping consumer behaviour.

With tightening budgets, individuals are expected to exercise caution in their online spending, introducing barriers to impulsive purchases.

However, it's crucial to note that consumers are not eliminating discretionary spending altogether.

Instead, they are approaching their purchases with a heightened sense of thoughtfulness and intentionality, carefully evaluating where, how, and on what they allocate their hard-earned dollars.

The quest for value takes centre stage, and consumers are redefining what constitutes value for them.

Mintel's 2024 Global Consumer Trends report highlights this shift, noting that diverse ideas about 'quality' in a product or service are emerging.

As budget constraints prompt tighter trade-offs, consumers are striking a balance between the quality received and the cost incurred.

Retailers can navigate this by looking at proven methods to alleviate shopper anxieties, including:

  • Offering easy returns and budget-friendly options: 67% of shoppers check the return policy before making online purchases, and a seamless return process influences 92% of them to buy from the brand again.
  • Providing "basic" packages and budget-conscious alternatives that cater to cost-conscious consumers.

Beyond these fundamentals, retailers can elevate their focus on delivering value beyond mere cost savings. This includes:

  • Embracing ethical, sustainable, and socially conscious business practices, appealing to consumers who prioritise responsible spending even in tight financial circumstances.
  • Offering reliable, predictable, top-tier service to prevent customer dissatisfaction, as any hint of hassle may lead them to abandon a purchase.
  • Rewarding loyalty with meaningful perks and bonuses that resonate with consumers' preferences.

As we wrap up the discussion, allow me to emphasise something that stands out from the rest.

Whether it's the surge in AI importance, the emphasis on mobile-first, inflation or the focus on unified omnichannel commerce, the defining trends shaping e-commerce in 2024 share a common thread:

They all prioritise putting the customer experience at the forefront. The MOST important one!

Reiterating a fundamental principle.

In moments of uncertainty, the guiding question should always be, "What would my customer want?"

With this customer-centric approach as your guiding compass, staying on course becomes assured.


Note: As we journey into 2024, we might be updating this article to include more trends including those whose importance is rapidly increasing in this equally fast-changing field of e-commerce