Published 18 January 2024

18 min read

Globally, e-commerce is rising (+8.95% annually), with innovative engagement strategies set to supercharge and/or reshape digital shopping experiences. Next-gen artificial intelligence (AI) is birthing more intuitive chatbots, grocery “housekeepers” and virtual try-on tech with predictive-modelling prowess, alongside the rise of DIY digital resales, feel-good e-communities, phygital perks and audio-scaping. We unpack the seven most impactful trends.

1: Intuitive E-Comm: The AI Chatbots Upgrading Conversational Commerce

2: Your AI Housekeeper: Outsourcing the Everyday Mundane

3: Try-Before-You-Buy’s Predictive-Modelling Superpowers

4: DIY Digi-Resales: Virtual Wardrobing, Circular Commerce & Buybacks

5: Virtual Communities for Feel-Good E-Commerce

6: Phygital Perks: Transformational Experiences + Bragging Rights

7: Audio-Scaping: Taking Virtual Brand Engagement to New Heights

Despite some frustrations, AI-powered chatbots have a keen audience: 35% of global consumers prefer them to human customer support agents (see Key Stats). More intuitive approaches will keep brands competitive in 2024/25, with ultra-personalised AI customer service moving even mainstream brands into authentically helpful personal shopper territory.

Despite some frustrations, AI-powered chatbots have a keen audience: 35% of global consumers prefer them to human customer support agents (see Key Stats). More intuitive approaches will keep brands competitive in 2024/25, with ultra-personalised AI customer service moving even mainstream brands into authentically helpful personal shopper territory.

Summary

1: Intuitive E-Comm: The AI Chatbots Upgrading Conversational Commerce

Despite some frustrations, AI-powered chatbots have a keen audience: 35% of global consumers prefer them to human customer support agents (see Key Stats). More intuitive approaches will keep brands competitive in 2024/25, with ultra-personalised AI customer service moving even mainstream brands into authentically helpful personal shopper territory.

2: Your AI Housekeeper: Outsourcing the Everyday Mundane

In 2024/25, do-it-for-me delegation retail will extend to chores and saving money, including deal-finding (good news for Gen Zers’ love of “loud budgeting” as well as for families). On average, Brits spend 208 hours annually on domestic tasks like meal preparation, while 39% of those jobs are considered AI-automatable (grocery shopping tops the list – see Key Stats).

3: Try-Before-You-Buy’s Predictive-Modelling Superpowers

Virtual fit tech already boosts online fashion sales (encouraging 71% of global shoppers to buy more), yet annual e-commerce returns add up to $642bn (see Key Stats). Innovative future-gazing tech, also covering beauty and homeware, will help combat the problem in 2024/25 by not only presenting real-time options, but also showing predictive windows onto future scenarios.

4: DIY Digi-Resales: Virtual Wardrobing, Circular Commerce & Buybacks

The global second-hand apparel market is set to reach $351bn by 2027, with online resales being the fastest-growing area (see Key Stats). For 2024/25, facilitating DIY reselling will be a smart move. Key strategies include offering baked-in buyback opportunities, the value-add of “virtual wardrobing” and community-centred connoisseurship-framed trading.

5: Virtual Communities for Feel-Good E-Commerce

Regular e-commerce may not (yet) be a hang-with-friends activity, but virtual sociability is possible, either within Web3 environments (notably, 19% of global gamers feel connected to a community within gaming metaverses) or in adjacent social networking spaces used by brand fans. For Gen Zalpha, social support groups, friends’ advice and wish-list sharing will all bolster digital togetherness.

6: Phygital Perks: Transformational Experiences + Bragging Rights

The increasing interest in overlapping digital and physical identities will create more opportunities for exclusive “verch” – virtual assets, such as merchandise, linked to physical products/experiences, and vice versa. Innovation includes near-field communication (NFC) chips unlocking digital perks, like exclusive content from real-life items, and virtual beauty labs launching real-life products.

7: Audio-Scaping: Taking Virtual Brand Engagement to New Heights

With Apple’s Vision Pro mixed reality headset (launching 2024) supercharging sensory immersive experiences (key features include touch-simulating ultrasound), expect virtual spaces to hit a new level of sensory seduction, helping brands create digital environments that equal or even transcend their physical counterparts. The often-overlooked role of sound (see The Sensational Multisensory in Metaverse 360°) will be vital.

Digital Commerce: 7 Trends & Opportunities, 24/25

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Offering access to over 350 consumer and cross-industry reports annually, Stylus Membership is your window to tomorrow’s most exciting opportunities.

We already arm more than 500 of the world’s most forward-thinking brands and agencies with the creative insights they need to make transformative business decisions.

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