With recent data showing that consumers are still willing to spend on apparel and accessories, online retailers can foster holiday season fashion apparel sales with AI, user-generated content, and sustainability, writes Meghan Stabler, senior vice president of marketing at ecommerce technology provider BigCommerce.

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Meghan Stabler

The fashion and retail ecommerce sector is experiencing continued growth, fueled by dynamic trends and consumer preferences against an ever-changing online landscape.

McKinsey analysts expected the fashion industry, excluding the luxury sector, would struggle to deliver significant growth in 2023. But so far, fashion is on track to surpass $200 billion in ecommerce revenue in 2023, with estimates soaring beyond $300 billion by 2027, while accounting for 23% of total online retail sales, according to Statista.

The latest customer data from BigCommerce’s 2023 Global Ecommerce Fashion & Apparel report prove shoppers are still willing to spend on apparel and accessories. Gross merchandise value (GMV) grew 7.3% in the first half of 2023 compared to that six-month stretch in 2022, with average order value (AOV) having increased by 8.3% globally.

What’s driving this strong growth? Here are three trends shaping the landscape of fashion ecommerce and setting the stage for an anticipated boom this holiday season:


1. Generative AI Transforms the Customer Journey

With the help of Gen AI, the entire industry is transforming. Whether it’s generating product descriptions, driving product categorization or creating a virtual fitting room, Gen AI already has a sizable footprint in the digital fashion world, and the impact is massive. In fact, McKinsey predicts that Gen AI could add $150 billion to $275 billion in the fashion, apparel and luxury sectors in the next few years.

Gen AI has also proven critical to developing a robust omnichannel strategy. Take product categorization as an example. Traditionally, retailers manually entered product descriptions across all sales channels. Now, with the power of Gen AI, product feed management companies, such as Feedonomics, can significantly reduce manual effort and save valuable time by optimizing data across hundreds of advertising and marketplace channels with the click of a button. This results in increased accuracy, enhanced overall performance and, ultimately, a greater return on ad spend.

2. UGC’s Purchasing Influence is Strong

User-Generated Content (UGC) has emerged as a potent form of social proof, guiding fashion enthusiasts in their purchasing decisions. In an era inundated with marketing messages, consumers crave authenticity and experiences. UGC stands as the antidote, offering unfiltered insights from real people. These narratives not only create trust and relatability but also foster a sense of community among potential buyers, providing them with a credible perspective in their shopping journey.

Studies underscore its impact, revealing that 65% of consumers have made fashion purchases based on UGC, with 54% deeming it the most influential content in their fashion-related decisions. UGC will play a pivotal role in guiding holiday purchases, offering consumers the confidence to make informed decisions. By creating a sense of belonging and empowerment, UGC not only enhances the consumer experience but also pinpoints the critical role of genuine customer interactions in the realm of ecommerce platforms.


3.  Sustainable Fashion: More Than a Buzzword

The sustainable fashion industry is witnessing significant growth, underscoring the importance of eco-conscious choices. With the market value estimated to increase by over three billion from 2021 to 2025, sustainable fashion has become a pivotal consideration for consumers. Data surveyed from First Insight and the Baker Retailing Center at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania shows that 62% of Gen Z shoppers prefer sustainable brands, with 73% willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. This trend reflects a shift in consumer mindset, emphasizing the longevity and impact of sustainable fashion and apparel products.

As the world’s focus on sustainability intensifies, the fashion industry is taking center stage. The momentum driving eco-conscious choices are poised to drive a notable upswing in online sales this shopping season.

The rise of generative AI, user-generated content and sustainable initiatives is signaling an imminent influx of growth in the fashion sector. As these trends transform the ecommerce landscape, consider optimizing sales channel strategies with AI integration, personalizing customer experiences with UGC facets and leaning into more eco-friendly methods to bolster your brand during the peak holiday shopping season.

Meghan Stabler is senior vice president of marketing at BigCommerce, a provider of ecommerce technology for B2B and retail companies.