4 Retail Trends Changing the Way People Shop Online

by Dawn Allcot
November 23, 2020

With online shopping sales predicted to reach $6.54 trillion by 2022, an increase from $3.53 trillion in 2019, e-commerce brands must keep their finger on the pulse of what's next. It’s not enough to update 

your website and wait for the sales to roll in. Ecommerce isn’t as simple as “build it, and they will come.” So, what are the retail trends your brand should know to take your digital experience to the next level? 

1. Customer Personalization Gets a Makeover 

The trailblazing “You May Also Like …” algorithm, introduced in 1998 as a result of machine learning and artificial intelligence, marked the first foray into customer personalization. Fast forward to today, and research has shown that brands have seen up to a 25% revenue increase by personalizing their website and marketing. The e-commerce retailer that can accurately predict what specific shoppers want — perhaps even before they know themselves — will win both sales and loyalty. 

However, when it comes to personalization for fashion and apparel brands, we’ve historically leaned on broad segments and product catalogs labeled with minimal attributes to drive machine learning about customers. It’s not enough. There’s so much more to learn about what drives purchase behavior. Lily AI’s groundbreaking ability to assign 20 to 30 attributes per product from more than 15,000 possible tags, and then combine that data with customer behavioral data, allows retailers to make more relevant recommendations. This leads to personalization on an entirely new level

Our sophisticated algorithm can tap into historical and real-time customer data to determine the emotional context behind a customer’s clothing purchases. What is a shopper’s style personality? What is their body type, and how do they feel about its specific features? What clothing attributes do they prefer (or avoid), and why? We create a psychographic profile that fills in the blanks. 

2. Chatbots Improve More Than Just Customer Service 

Chatbots are one of the more popular retail industry trends helping e-tailers connect with their customers and provide the kind of support customers are used to at a brick-and-mortar. One study found that 60% of shoppers prefer self-serve tools like chatbots because of the fast response time. Chatbots can help discern a site visitor’s intention, troubleshoot problems and offer quality customer service by asking a few targeted questions. And they can do so much faster than the time it takes a customer to pick up the phone and dial a customer service number. 

But there’s more. Chatbots can be stylists, too. Armed with an individual customer’s psychographic profile, chatbots can help them discover new outfit ideas for special occasions or make hyper-personalized suggestions based on certain parameters and preferences. If Lily AI’s algorithm has learned that a customer likes to enhance their hips or lengthen their torso based on real-time and historical data, it can empower chatbots to recommend items that make the shopper feel confident in a purchase, even though they aren’t able to try it on. 

3. Social Shopping Meets Customers Where They’re At Online

Sixty percent of people say they discover new products on Instagram, so naturally, the platform is continuing to empower brands to sell and make it easier for users to purchase. It uses artificial intelligence and data to predict what individual users like, creating curated collections for them to shop. Additionally, users can shop creator collections and looks, making influencers an even more impactful tool for selling and promoting new launches than they already are. 

And because social shopping capabilities eliminate the extra steps shoppers would need to take to find a product they saw someone wearing on Instagram on a brand’s website, it’s boosting revenue and traffic.

Some brands have seen more than 1,000% increase in traffic and upwards of 20% more revenue by leveraging shoppable posts and shoppable tags on Instagram. 

That’s a lot of new customers, each with their specific preferences, insecurities and affinities for certain styles and attributes. If those customers purchase one product via an influencer’s post or one of your posts directly, and they love it, they may also begin to engage with your brand’s website. As engagement and traffic increase, you’ll want to make sure your product catalog is optimized with in-depth data, and that you’re set up to learn more about their individual preferences so you can re-target them effectively. 

4. Branded Shopping Apps Take Mobile Shopping to New Heights

While mobile shopping may be leading the pack over desktop, on track to make up over 73% of online purchases by next year, it’s not enough just to have a mobile-friendly e-commerce website. One study found that 85% of shoppers prefer a mobile app to a website optimized for mobile, and mobile apps have a higher conversion rate by 157%. If you don’t have a branded e-commerce app yet, it might be time to jump on the bandwagon. 

Meanwhile, a sophisticated AI platform like Lily AI can gather data from a single user across all of these channels, generating psychographic profiles that allow you to provide hyper-personalized experiences across various digital touchpoints. 

If you’re interested in learning how Lily AI can help you tap into this data, get in touch with us to learn more about how our technology works. 


1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/379046/worldwide-retail-e-commerce-sales/

2. https://www.bcg.com/publications/2019/next-level-personalization-retail

3. https://kinsta.com/blog/ecommerce-statistics/ 

4. https://business.instagram.com/getting-started/#why-instagram

5. https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/instagram-shopping/#instagram-shoppable-posts-increas ed-traffic-1416 

6. https://www.statista.com/statistics/806336/mobile-retail-commerce-share-worldwide/

7. https://buildfire.com/mobile-commerce-trends/