Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

2024 Prediction: Ecommerce and retail trends

Amal Ahmed, director, Financial Services and EMEA Marketing at Signifyd

“Merchant innovation is at the heart of shaping the future of commerce; that’s nothing new. But in a rapidly evolving landscape where consumer expectations are higher than ever, staying ahead of the curve is not just an option—it’s a necessity.

Signifyd’s State of Commerce report has revealed that 37% of UK consumers said two or fewer bad online checkout experiences would cost a merchant their business for good. The importance of CX in driving loyalty has undeniable impacts on a retailer’s bottom line, and ultimately, this experience – if good – turns into revenue both immediately and in the future.

Heading into 2024, consumers are continuing to feel the financial pinch, which is compelling them on making a conscious effort to spend wisely. Every retailer now needs to offer more than just a technological facelift; it requires a profound shift in how they cater to the modern shopper’s demands. However, amidst this digital evolution, a twist emerges: the era of future-focused ecommerce, marked by instant approvals, also widens the door for potential fraudsters seeking to exploit rapid transactions.

For businesses, the sweet spot lies in harmonising three key elements: CX, fraud protection, and reducing friction in payments. Merchants must be more savvy about the evolving fraud landscape, particularly in Europe, where issues like friendly fraud and returns abuse compound challenges in an era of squeezed margins. A holistic, tailored strategy is crucial. Businesses need to determine their specific profile—whether UK-focused, UK/EU, or operating on a broader international scale. This awareness is integral to navigating the challenges and achieving success in 2024 and beyond. Striking this balance necessitates partnerships among merchants, payment service providers, and payment-focused tech companies, fostering innovative payment solutions.

So, as we delve into 2024, let’s not forget: the real trick is not just in the show but in keeping fraudsters off the stage entirely.”

Scott Lundstrom, Senior Industry Strategist for Retail, OpenText

“Retail is struggling against a dramatic increase in malware and ransomware attacks.  Data indicates March 2023 surpassed prior ransomware attack records for the most incidents in one month, with nearly 460 attacks, a 91% increase month-over-month and 62% year-over-year. Exploited vulnerabilities (36%) were the most common root cause of ransomware attacks, followed by compromised credentials (29%). Zero trust is a holistic security approach that provides the strongest possible defense, while ensuring that all identities can access the information needed, when it’s needed.  A zero-trust framework ensures that identities are validated, and that access is managed dynamically. It centralizes policy management and automates enforcement, closing security gaps and making compliance and auditing much easier.  Expect retail organizations to continue to accelerate their deployment of zero trust architectures to defend against increased attacks.”

Paul Maguire, Head of Retail Delivery, Endava

“In 2024, social commerce will continue to change the dynamics of demand and fulfilment in retail. This is because more and more social media users will prefer to discover new products via influencers and a growing number of in-app ‘swipe to shop’ purchase options. As a result, retailers will need to be better equipped for unified commerce across all channels. Products will spring into unprecedented demand, meaning retailers must have the right infrastructure to fulfil these orders – and fast. The appropriate infrastructure will limit order fulfilment inefficiencies, from websites crashing to manufacturing issues and shipping delays. It is more critical than ever for retailers to build agility into their organisation’s digital infrastructure to prevent bottlenecks in deliveries and allows for retailers to deliver the latest trends.” 

Stuart Carrison, Senior Sales Engineer, LogicMonitor

“For years, the retail sector has been talking about establishing a 360° view of the customer. A lot of progress towards a modernised CX approach has recently been made as businesses reposition themselves in a transformed market. In particular, the desire to get customers back into stores and enable cross and up selling requires a level of clienteling that previously meant a ‘black book’ approach. 360° knowledge of every consumer that has ever done business with you, whether they are on your ecommerce site or have walked through the door of your store on the other side of the world, is pushing retailers to act fast to draw and retain every customer they can.

The period of rapid technological adoption that we are now emerging from has, however, also necessitated a lot of bootstrapping and experimentation. Good-enough-for-now, tactical decisions are inevitable when you’re testing options and discovering what works best for your situation.

In the coming year, I expect to see a greater focus on consolidating recent progress into a more cohesive, holistic, and robust technology stance. Retailers will recognise that a 360° view of the customer is only fully effective when you have a 360° view of the infrastructure, particularly that infrastructure enabling the personal clienteling experience across physical and online. Knowing exactly what to recommend, and when, only converts to revenue when you have accurate, relevant client data and a purchase flow (again, across the physical/online boundary) that smoothly and reliably enables customers to act on those recommendations.

This will be particularly important as retailers arrive at a level of feature parity: when equivalent options are abundant, a pleasurable shopping experience which doesn’t create small frustrations will win out. That will make AIOps a secret weapon for tomorrow’s retailers, as a way of identifying trends and anomalies before customers do and correcting for them.”

Joakim Gavelin, VP Digital Shelf Services, inriver

“Over the last few years, marketplaces have emerged at the top of consumers’ preferred ways of shopping. Our research found that when shoppers search for a product online, 41% of them start in marketplaces, and data also shows that marketplaces could account for up to 59% of all e-commerce sales by 2027.  

The main reason behind the marketplace popularity amongst consumers is the ease of use and flexibility to explore all products within a specific category. If the economic situation remains similar to 2023, we can anticipate that consumers will continue looking for the best deals and marketplaces will play a key role in helping them do that.  

While marketplaces allow brands and third-party vendors to highlight their entire assortment of products instead of the limited amounts that sit on costly store shelves, they also bring more competition and complexity. Brands have to manage more and audit a larger landscape when it comes to making sure that everything online about their product is correct and up to date.  

In 2024, having an accurate representation of products within a marketplace community will be critical to ensure that brands can maximise conversions and avoid lost revenue opportunities caused by common product content issues like invisible listings, content lacking compliance, stockouts, and more. Brands will need to treat marketplaces like any other sales channel and ensure a uniform experience across the board.”  

John Pillips, General Manager, EMEA at Zuora

“Another challenging economic period lies ahead for the retail sector, with many consumers continuing to tighten their budgets. However, contrary to some perceptions that subscriptions can contribute to unexpected additional spending, recent research actually reveals that 84% of consumers believe that subscriptions enable them to worry less about their finances. In 2024, retailers are likely to turn to such business models to weather the storm.  

Through recurring revenue models, retailers can use data to give their customers personalised offerings, making sure they are getting what they want, when they want. By creating tailored, flexible shopping experiences and helping customers to manage their finances in tricky times – through providing the ability to pause or opt out of services, for example – retailers can set themselves ahead of the competition.  

There’s no sugar-coating that we’re not out of the woods just yet; however, when used correctly, subscription models can provide reprieve for retailers during these concerning times. Next year, those who continue to focus on their customers will be able to not only survive but thrive.”

Ed Hill, SVP, EMEA, Bazaarvoice

“AI has the potential to be a game changer for UK brands and retailers, earning the trust of a solid 53% of consumers. In the coming year, it’s set to make waves in British retail, opening doors to streamline operations, jazz up content creation, and amp up the overall customer experience. Yet, finding that sweet spot between human creativity and AI efficiency is key. It’s not just about incorporating AI; it’s about doing it responsibly and ethically, ensuring it complements rather than replaces human input and creativity. This intentional strategy keeps things in line with brand values but also builds consumer trust while helping to dodge any unintended ethical issues.

However, a looming challenge in UK retail is the surge in AI-generated fake ratings and reviews, bringing the risk of everything from misinformation to downright deception. Keeping user-generated content (UGC) genuine and authentic is a must not only in the year ahead but also indefinitely. Brands need to get that the true value of UGC isn’t just about quantity but its authenticity, putting the spotlight on genuine customer experiences to solidify trust. Navigating the evolving AI landscape in UK retail demands a smart, forward-thinking approach—responsible AI practices, transparency, and an unwavering commitment to authentic customer connections are the recipe for success.”