Ecommerce technology is constantly evolving, and online retailers managed to take advantage of that evolution in 2023.
Below, we recap some of Digital Commerce 360’s most insightful articles about online retailers from 2023 regarding 10 key coverage areas:
- Industry news and trends (including the Bed Bath & Beyond saga)
- Artificial intelligence
- Digital marketing
- Exploring new technology
- Fulfillment and delivery
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Online marketplaces
- Payments and fraud
These stories highlight meaningful changes to online retailers’ ecommerce operations in 2023. Most notably, they include new and improved technologies and strategies that online retailers have implemented. We published roundups specifically for some of these coverage areas over the first couple weeks of 2024, and we link to them below. Those topic roundups — about artificial intelligence, fulfillment and delivery, and payments and fraud — include subtopics.
1) Industry news and trends
Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse hit the ecommerce world. See a list of impacted companies.
The bank had a history of investing in ecommerce startups, and Etsy, Shopify, and others had accounts with Silicon Valley Bank.
Gathering data in the age of privacy
Learning how to collect and use first-party data is key if retailers are to navigate a world without third-party cookies.
Data shows online retailers with the highest carbon footprints
Websites emit carbon dioxide emissions (CO2). Recent data shows which retailers top the list of offenders versus those who don’t.
Retail profitability rebounds but remains pressured by online costs
Retailers’ profits declined from 2012-2019, in part due to the costs associated with online and omnichannel sales, but bounced back during the pandemic, Deloitte says. Cutting costs, including by limiting free shipping and handling returns more efficiently, will be essential to maintaining profit margins.
What ecommerce retailers can learn from HomeGoods exit
Despite giving ecommerce a go, HomeGoods found out that off-price retailing is not well suited for its online sales.
1.5) The Bed Bath & Beyond saga
Amid all this ecommerce news and the largest online retail trends of 2023, one story remained at the forefront for months. Bed Bath & Beyond’s downfall had — and continues to have — a meaningful impact on the retail industry.
Bed Bath & Beyond says it’s not beyond help, but reports further losses
Coming just days after the retailer said it might seek bankruptcy protection, the poor earnings report paints a dismal picture for the beleaguered retailer.
Which retailers will benefit from Bed Bath & Beyond’s demise?
Bed Bath & Beyond’s bankruptcy presents an opportunity for retailers to cash in on the shopping experience both in store and online.
Overstock CEO says brand name is a “boat anchor” ahead of Bed Bath & Beyond relaunch
Revenue and other key metrics were down for Overstock, but CEO Jonathan Johnson says the Bed Bath & Beyond relaunch will be a “new phase.”
Goodbye, hello: Buy Buy Baby preps to be born again
Under new ownership, Bed Bath & Beyond’s former baby-products retailing unit plans an ecommerce and brick-and-mortar revival.
2) Artificial intelligence
Perhaps the most-talked-about subject for months, if not the entire year, artificial intelligence had a resurgence in 2023. Many retailers were already using it — and machine-learning technology — to guide operating processes. But then, generative AI entered the arena at the end of 2022, and it drew global attention to its capabilities. Here’s how some online retailers are leading AI integration into ecommerce.
3) Digital marketing
How are digital marketers using AI to boost conversion?
Artificial intelligence allows digital marketers to quickly test how consumers respond to ads, images and emails. Over time, the algorithm learns, and its predictions become more accurate. Learn how three retailers increased their online sales after investing in AI.
Online flower retailer UrbanStems increases conversion 12% during Valentine’s Day season
Conversion through paid social channels drove that overall increase, growing 83% year over year.
Why wacky ads work on TikTok, while sober is better for Facebook
Four online marketers share ways they curate their brands’ social media content to cater to their target audience on each platform, and explain when it’s OK to repurpose content.
80% of Chico’s customers sign up for its loyalty program in the first nine months
Chico’s updated its loyalty program for the first time in 30 years, and after one year, more than 80% of customers are members.
Lights, camera, conversion: How some retailers use videos to entice shoppers to buy
Online retailers use video to provide shoppers with a rich customer experience that informs, engages and converts.
4) Exploring new technology
Generative AI wasn’t the only new technology to hit retailers’ tech stacks in 2023. Companies dived into the metaverse and other virtual realities. They also took advantage of atypical payment methods and found ways to change business models entirely.
American Girl invests in its virtual museum
The retailer’s digital museum provides content so girls can play, learn more about the brand’s doll characters and create product wish lists.
Crurated’s wine platform uses NFTs and memberships to find a younger market
70% of Crurated’s members using the blockchain wine service are under 45 years old.
Forever 21 caters to Gen Z shoppers with fast checkout, metaverse products
Despite an initially turbulent relationship, apparel brand Forever 21 and payment provider Bolt Financial are now touting positive results from the integration of the streamlined checkout button.
What online retailers can learn from Evite’s business model pivot
Evite’s customer experience suffered because of the company’s reliance on advertising revenue, CEO David Yeom tells Digital Commerce 360. Evite took the lull in parties during the pandemic to overhaul its revenue streams.
UK crafts retailer uses data to guide website replatforming process
Hobbycraft had to learn what parts of its website did and didn’t make sense for its shoppers, what bugs to work out, and what changes its website wasn’t capable of. And after about 12 years with its previous website, it replatformed in March 2022.
5) Fulfillment and delivery
Online retailers continued learning how to cut and manage shipping costs in 2023. Some major retailers optimized fulfillment and delivery by using stores to fulfill orders, whether via delivering from them or urging customers to use in-store and curbside pickup options. These stories highlight meaningful fulfillment trends among online retailers in 2023.
Natori invests in livestreaming to appeal to new generation of customers
Luxury apparel brand The Natori Co. believes livestreaming will enable the brand to appeal to new customers.
Orchard Mile takes control by livestreaming its own shopping events
Luxury online marketplace Orchard Mile hosts livestreaming shopping events through its own website rather than other channels.
Newegg livestreams more than 24 hours a day
Newegg livestreams 30 hours of content on weekdays, which includes livestreams across its six handles and in China.
Women’s apparel retailer ‘Evereve TV’ attracts shoppers, increases conversion
Evereve staff model clothing and share their styling tips through video on the retailer’s Evereve TV — and it’s boosting sales.
7) Mergers and acquisitions
Although there were many more mergers and acquisitions in 2023, these are some of the most notable ones impacting the industry.
Walmart sells outdoor retailer Moosejaw to Dick’s Sporting Goods
It’s the latest example of Walmart selling off online-focused brands it acquired as it bulked up its ecommerce business several years ago. Moosejaw will be part of the Public Lands outdoor business unit that Dick’s launched in 2021.
Unilever is selling Dollar Shave Club after seven years
Private equity firm Nexus Capital Management will acquire a 65% stake in Dollar Shave Club, with Unilever retaining 35%. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
UPS to acquire Happy Returns
Happy Returns’ service for online orders will soon be available at more than 12,000 U.S. locations, the CEO of UPS says.
What Sycamore gets for $1 billion to buy Chico’s
Private equity firm Sycamore Partners unsuccessfully tried to buy Chico’s FAS in 2019. Why is Chico’s worth $1 billion?
Why a serial ecommerce entrepreneur bought Blue Apron
Blue Apron is being sold to Wonder Group, an online food-to-home delivery company, founded by serial ecommerce entrepreneur Marc Lore.
8) Online marketplaces
Michael’s is the latest retailer to add a third-party marketplace
The digital marketplace will quadruple the number of products for sale, with the majority from third-party sellers.
Walmart and Amazon are growing their online marketplaces. Here’s how they compare.
They are both growing the number of third-party sellers on their online marketplaces, but Amazon has a significant lead.
Selling on Amazon is key for SMBs, but it might not make money
Small and medium-sized retailers say selling on Amazon is a necessary part of customer acquisition, despite added costs.
Amazon fee change ‘completely out of the blue’ for some Amazon sellers
Amazon announced it will end its Small and Light Program and introduce Low-Price FBA rates for all items priced below $10 (previously $12).
Prime Day’s mixed message: some merchants boost prices during the event
Last year, retailers raised prices on 13% of top-selling items during the Prime Day promotion, according to new research. And this year, Amazon rolled out invitation-only deals that limit price drops to select shoppers.
Amazon announces updates to Buy with Prime to stay competitive
Updating Buy with Prime is a way for Amazon to collect data and keep its market share while competing with Shopify.
What were the biggest ecommerce takeaways from Amazon’s Q2 earnings call?
CEO Andy Jassy said Amazon is developing more AI technology, making its fulfillment more efficient and improving its B2B division for business buyers.
EBay rolls out its generative AI listing tool to all marketplace sellers in app
The generative AI tool writes product descriptions for eBay’s app marketplace sellers based on their listing’s metadata.
Michaels launches MakerPlace online marketplace
Michaels MakerPlace does not charge sellers a listing fee and allows them to sell access to virtual classes and how-to guides.
9) Payments and fraud
Buy now, pay later was already on the rise going into 2023, when its popularity continued to grow. And as retailers considered implementing BNPL, even if late in the game, they also looked into other ways to make the payments process smoother for their consumers. These stories highlight meaningful payments and fraud trends from last year, showing how online retailers are staying focused on their bottom lines.
Grove Collaborative CEO talks sustainable shipping
With a goal to be plastic-free by 2025, personal care and home products brand Grove details ways it makes direct-to-consumer shipping more sustainable.
The secondhand retail industry grew 28% in 2022, according to ThredUp’s latest report
The report shows Gen Z and millennials are growing more open to buying and selling used clothing online.
How an apparel brand eliminates polybags
Toad and Co. commits to less packaging by sending orders in reusable bags and switching to paper-based polybags that can be regularly recycled.
Bedding brand aims for luxury unboxing without extra tissue paper
Beflax, a small online business, ships its $300 linen bedsheets in reusable packages. The brand wants its customers to have a premium package without extra waste.
Jewelry retailer strives for sustainability on different levels
J’evar uses an in-house generative AI tool to boost its sustainability efforts, which also include using a solar farm to grow its own diamonds.
Archive helps retailers resell their own products
Hanna Andersson customers take advantage of store credit options as they list items on the retailer’s Hanna-Me-Downs resale site.
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