According to Statista, the fashion ecommerce industry composed about 21% of the overall ecommerce industry in 2023. This has been spurred by several trends, like growing globalization, rapidly evolving innovation, and changes in consumer spending habits driven by factors like COVID-19 (among many others).
So what can ecommerce fashion retailers expect? And for those looking to break into the space: what considerations should you keep in mind as you develop your product line, business model, and marketing plan?
Let’s take a look at some of the top trends we predict for the fashion ecommerce industry in 2024.
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1. More eyes are on sustainability
In recent years, there’s been a steady shift toward more sustainable practices and mindsets among both consumers and the fashion industry. This trend isn’t going anywhere.
Research shows that this trend is especially strong in younger consumers: millennials and Gen Z. Here are a few stats from thredUP’s annual research:
- 58% of millennials and Gen Z say that the items they wear contribute to climate change, as opposed to 43% overall.
- 63% of them holds the belief that they can help reduce their carbon footprint, as opposed to 55% overall.
- 61% of them would call themselves sustainably focused or eco-conscious, as opposed to 51% overall.
So if your target market includes younger age groups, you may benefit from implementing more environmentally friendly practices into your product sourcing or business model. This may be a critical tool in helping you carve out a lasting piece of the market.
2. Growth of online resale
Another contribution to the sustainability mindset is the growing preference to buy secondhand clothing as opposed to new items. This has a twofold benefit: it helps to reduce waste while also reducing the need to manufacture new items, which often negatively contributes to climate change and other potential social issues.
According to a recent report, the online clothing resale market is projected to hit $38 billion by 2027, nearly doubling from 2023. This projection means that the online resale market will grow at nearly double the speed of its parent market of secondhand clothing. (The secondhand market includes four channels: online and offline resale, as well as online and offline thrift and donation.)
Many members of Gen Z will search for an item secondhand before buying it new. But the concept of resale doesn’t apply only to buying: research shows that Gen Z shoppers are actually starting to consider the resale value of clothing they purchase—and are less likely to make a purchase if the resale value seems low. This shows that they’re active participants in a secondhand life cycle that includes both buying and selling.
3. AI to power personalization
We all know that personalization creates better shopping experiences. We also know that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are changing the game for virtually every industry.
So it’s only natural to see these two concepts marry.
Ecommerce fashion trends show that AI is helping brands find the proverbial sweet spot of personalization: too much can creep out online shoppers and cause them to leave, while a lack of personalization can lead to inefficient and frustrating experiences.
AI helps to find a balance, using a virtually infinite set of data points to analyze the best moves at the best time. From product recommendations to dynamic pricing to customized marketing to targeted customer service, AI is making the fashion retail market smoother and easier to jump into.
4. Fashion brands getting social
We spend about 2.5 hours per day on social media—a figure that’s been steadily climbing year after year. So it’s no wonder that savvy ecommerce fashion brands (and brands in every other industry, for that matter) are using this as an opportunity to sell more products.
According to Statista, the US social commerce market hit about $992 billion in 2022, and is projected to reach a whopping $2.9 trillion by 2026.
Online retailers are using several strategies to tap into this market. These include:
- Product videos that showcase and highlight certain products, which can then be purchased in-app or through a direct link
- Influencer marketing partnerships with familiar faces, who promote items and encourage sales (often as a part of an affiliate marketing plan)
- Multichannel and omnichannel ecommerce strategies that integrate offline buying paths with social media
- Leveraging native selling tools within social media platforms, like Facebook Shops, Pinterest buyable pins, and Shopping on Instagram
5. Brick-and-mortar plays better with online
Now that the days of quarantines and social distancing have lessened, brick-and-mortar stores are getting their groove back. This presents a world of opportunities, but also some potential challenges for online retailers with physical stores: how can we optimize the omnichannel landscape, with seamless integration of web, app, and in-store experiences?
Fashion ecommerce retailers are getting more and more creative with how they work to answer these questions.
Take natural shoe brand Allbirds for example. It started exclusively online, eventually having so much success it opened select brick-and-mortar stores. At first, when a customer wanted an item that wasn’t in store, associates needed to email them a link so they could finish the purchase at home. But now, they use a “buy in-store, ship to consumer” model.
“[Buy in-store, ship to consumer] allows for a much higher conversion than if we tell them to go back to their home and order it when they get back.”
—Travis Boyce, Head of Global Retail Operations, Allbirds
6. More retailers exploring the metaverse
The metaverse is really shaking things up in fashion. For those unaware, it’s a virtual landscape where augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies combine to create immersive experiences. This new environment is changing the way we shop and interact with clothing and accessories.
Fashion brands realize the potential of this new environment and are quickly adapting. For instance, Forever 21 partnered with virtual game creator Roblox to create Forever 21 Shop City, an unique virtual world in the metaverse.
In the Forever 21 Shop, customers can manage their own fashion stores and style avatars with Forever 21’s latest collections. The goal, according to chief merchandising officer Katrina Glusac, is to expand how the brand engages with customers, extending its presence and product in new ways
Overall, the fashion metaverse trend is revolutionizing the online shopping experience, turning it from a simple transaction into a fully interactive and engaging activity.
7. Buy now, pay later’s popularity soars
Installment payments are making a big splash in fashion ecommerce. Shoppers, eager to stay stylish without breaking the bank are finding a friend in buy now, pay later (BNPL) options. This approach lets them shop the latest trends today and pay over time—a real blessing for budget-conscious fashionistas.
Fashion ecommerce brands are quickly jumping on the BNPL bandwagon. They’re partnering with popular BNPL providers like Klarna, Affirm, and Afterpay. These services split up the total cost into smaller bites, making that must-have jacket or pair of shoes more wallet-friendly. It’s shopping made easy, without the full-price sting at checkout.
The surge in BNPL’s popularity is backed by impressive numbers. In the US, BNPL lending in fashion is forecasted to reach more than $90 billion by 2023, and it’s not slowing down—experts predict it will cross $100 billion by 2024. This trend shows that shoppers love the pay-later perk.
In essence, BNPL is turning “window shopping” into “winning shopping.” It’s helping people stay in vogue without the upfront financial load. As we head into 2024, BNPL looks set to be a staple in the online fashion world, keeping both style and savings in vogue.
Stay on top of the ecommerce fashion market
As you’ve probably seen firsthand, the trends of today might be ancient relics by tomorrow. If you want to last in the ecommerce fashion industry, it’s important to stay on top of evolving trends.
Keep these tips in mind, and remember that they’re just the tip of the iceberg. The most strategic fashion and apparel retailers will be the ones who come out on top for years to come.
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