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Revisiting Our Past Ecommerce Predictions


If there is one thing that is constant in ecommerce, it’s change. It is always evolving and never looks the same from year to year. The highs and lows of the past few years have shaped how customers shop and in return, have changed how ecommerce brands are presented to customers.

Despite the economic challenges we all currently face, ecommerce hit a milestone moment in 2022, with sales exceeding $1 trillion in 2022, according to Retail Dive. The report states that the top-grossing ecommerce industries in 2022 were food, pet, and baby goods which accounted for $219 billion. Followed by the apparel and accessories industry with growth in every major industry every quarter.

Back in 2016, Smile.io released a version of 20 experts giving their predictions on what the future of ecommerce would look like. None of the past 20 experts could have predicted the collective shock of 2020, the growth of 2021, and the rolling changes of 2022 leading into 2023.

Let’s see how a few of those past predictions fared compared to where ecommerce is now.

Customer Behaviors

Past Prediction: The biggest trends in ecommerce will center around reducing user effort and improving the online customer experience. Any tools that can reduce online friction and simplify the user’s input will be huge.

Verdict: Correct – Customer experience is the big factor in whether someone will spend their money with you and return for a repeat purchase.


Past Prediction: John Surdakowski is the CEO and founder of Avex Design, and predicted content was only going to get bigger. “Ecommerce marketing will consist of aggressive content marketing campaigns. Providing engaging content on brands’ websites, as well as on social media, will be a dominant force behind marketing. This is especially true of video marketing as it surges in popularity.”

Verdict: Correct – Video is only getting bigger for ecommerce brands. According to insights, 59% of SMBs grew revenue with help from TikTok.

11 Ways to Use TikTok To Acquire New Customers

TikTok marketing is an effective way to acquire new customers organically. Learn 11 different TikTok strategies you can use, and see examples of brands excelling on small business TikTok.

The Smile.io BlogGabrielle Policella

Past Prediction: Virtual reality and augmented reality applications will make a huge impact as commerce continues to move in this direction. Early players are trying to understand the landscape, and early experiments will provide invaluable information about what works and what doesn’t.

Verdict: Wrong – We are not quite there yet with virtual reality being used by every ecommerce brand, nor has it become a top priority in most industries.

Tools and Strategies

Past Prediction: Less touchpoints for customers. The days of browsing on a phone and then switching to a computer to purchase will decline as more retailers adopt new payments, reducing friction in the mobile checkout process.

Verdict: Wrong – Omnichannel is as ever-present as ever. Having a successful omnichannel strategy doesn't mean you have to be absolutely in every single channel, but where your customers are.

According to industry data, 73% of shoppers across markets made a purchase in-store after finding or discovering the item on social media.

What is Omnichannel Commerce (with Examples)

Omnichannel commerce is the approach of an integrated strategy for a business that unites multichannel methods of retail into one channel.

The Smile.io BlogJonathan Roque

Past Prediction: Tabitha Jean Naylor is the founder of a full-service agency, helping ecommerce brands. Tabitha predicted the expectations customers have on shipping deadlines. “I think consumers who live in the digital age of short attention spans will want their products delivered at lightning speed. Overnight delivery is sometimes not enough to satisfy them, so one, two, and three-hour windows of delivery are going to become more commonplace.”

“Free shipping continues to have a significant influence on purchasing for 75% of global shoppers, with 58% of people expecting free next-day delivery,” states the report.

From one day 💭…

…to your first day 👩🏼‍💻

Never give up on your small business dreams.

— Google Small Business (@GoogleSmallBiz) January 30, 2023

Ecommerce is changing

Whether you’re a small business just getting into the game, or an established brand looking to take your customer experience further than you ever have before, the only way to truly win in ecommerce is to jump in, offer a winning product that solves a problem, and build your brand community.

Curious to hear what the ecommerce experts are predicting in 2023? Well you'll just have to stay tuned…

This originally appeared on Smile.io and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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