The e-commerce trends set to accelerate this year

(Source: Commonwealth Bank)

The Australian e-commerce market is set for a dynamic evolution this year. Consumers will be even more selective, payment flexibility and innovation will be vital, and new tools to boost online security will gain momentum.

Last year was another turning point for digital commerce. Following an earlier pandemic-induced surge, total online spending had climbed 5 per cent year-on-year to September. In November and December alone, 7.5 million Australians shopped online, marking a new record. 

Looking more closely, the drivers of digital activity reflect the circumstances and preferences of Australian consumers. For one, most Australians changed their spending habits amid cost of living pressures. Most adopted deal-seeking behaviours, helping explain why cyber sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday set new records. 

However, spending is only part of the picture. Last year, consumer expectations of their digital customer experience also reached new heights. The CommBank Consumer Insights Report (September 2023) showed that 85 per cent expect technology to enhance purchasing processes and personalisation, with 64 per cent indicating that data security and control are a must-have to purchase.

The momentum behind online spending, value and convenience-driven shopping choices, and demand for seamless and secure purchasing isn’t slowing down. In fact, these are helping set the stage for the next wave of e-commerce innovation.

As we enter 2024, we anticipate an acceleration of existing consumer and e-commerce trends and the emergence of new ones. We’ve outlined just some of those that businesses can watch out for. 

Consumers will keep exchanging loyalty for value 

The trend towards Australians being more selective in where and how they shop is expected to remain firmly in place. In the CommBank Consumer Insights Report (September 2023), almost one in two consumers said that as cost of living pressures rose, they only shopped with known and trusted brands. 

Most said that would continue once living costs normalise. Using promotional codes, cashback offers and rewards and spending more time researching before buying were similarly set to remain persistent trends.

For e-commerce businesses, this puts a spotlight not only on the discovery and buying stages of the customer journey but other aspects of the experience too. From budget-friendly options and making returns easy to rewards programs and payment options, every interaction can offer a reason to remain loyal.

Demand for digital payment options will continue to expand

The latest figures from the Reserve Bank of Australia show that by mid-last year, the use of digital wallets in Australia had reached 35 per cent of card payments, up from 10 per cent in early 2020. While more Australians used mobile wallets for payments, adoption was fastest among younger generations.

The use of Buy Now Pay Later services among consumers grew 13 per cent in the year to June 2023, with 7 million Australians holding active accounts. Real-time account-to-account transfers on PayID enabled by the New Payments Platform (NPP) also increased.

Alongside usage growth, new digital payment options and market entrants continue to emerge. This includes the use of PayTo, the NPP-enabled alternative to direct debits, that’s set to make it easier and more secure for businesses to transact with customers.

As businesses strive to keep up with new payment options and innovations, the growth in digital payments is expected to heighten. That’s good news for the 84 per cent of consumers who indicated that a broad range of payment options for a faster checkout is either a must-have or nice to have when purchasing8.

From payments optimisation to orchestration

It’s not just the growth in payments that will be important in the year ahead, but the move towards better integrating and managing all aspects of the payment process. If the recent pace of new payment service launches and regulatory changes are anything to go by, merchants will continue to seek simpler ways to keep pace.

There is already a movement towards payments-related IT architecture that helps businesses offer new payment methods and adapt to new technologies. Known as payments orchestration, it’s a technical layer that streamlines the setup and maintenance of multiple payment providers.

Still, on the architecture front, the momentum behind a ‘composable’ commerce approach is expected to continue. That is, using a modular, microservice approach to e-commerce architecture where businesses can select vendors based on their strengths.

These trends are part of the same pursuit of ensuring agility and adaptability are built into the e-commerce infrastructure. That may prove to be even more critical this year to meet ever-changing consumer preferences.

Taking personalisation into hyperdrive

Attaining a single view of a customer across increasingly fragmented online journeys and channels remains a challenge for many businesses. Turning data into meaningful insights that, in turn, drive a more personalised and valuable customer interaction will ensure that boosting analytics capabilities is a common goal among merchants in the year ahead.

Having access to the right real-time data sources from across the e-commerce ecosystem is already foundational. Using that to create contextual interactions with customers based on user behaviours and preferences is a capability many are building. This year, the adoption of more advanced technologies that can help predict and create personalised customer experiences may usher in the next wave.

New frontiers in security and privacy

As data-driven tools, including those used for personalising customer experiences, continue to proliferate, data and privacy controls become even more important. The CommBank Consumer Insights Report (September 2023) confirmed that these safeguards were already non-negotiable for most consumers last year.

Amid rising incidences of fraud and chargebacks, payments will likely remain a cybersecurity focus this year. What will change is the technologies and emerging innovations used to combat the threat and keep customers safe. This includes using encryption, tokenisation, and the application of AI for fraud detection. 

The maturing technologies associated with AI and machine learning are enabling businesses to detect and prevent malicious activity more quickly and efficiently. The latest evolution in this area, generative AI, can help automate proactive measures. 

Amid rapid changes in the operating environment, consumer expectations and technology landscape, it’s clear the e-commerce market will not remain static this year. While the trends explored here are not exhaustive, they do have a common thread. There are compelling opportunities for businesses to adapt to change and meet customers’ needs, and accessible digital tools can help capture the commercial upside.

  • Speak to your relationship manager today about how CommBank can help your business with payment gateway solutions and e-commerce tools or visit commbank.com.au/ecommerce 

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