2023: The year of refining

While 2022 was the year of innovating, 2023 will be a year for refining and perfecting. Brands and marketers will better hone their channel strategies and create the right experiences to retain people's attention. While the dust has begun to settle on shifting consumer behaviors, inflation may cause more stirs. Marketers need to lean in on learnings from 2022 and previous times of economic uncertainty to ensure a successful new year. 

This upcoming year is forecasted to have $1.177 trillion in eRetail sales, 12.1% year over year growth and 218.8 million digital buyers—is your brand prepared? Publicis Commerce and Epsilon looked at trends for the next year that marketers need to know. 

Channel strategy

In 2023, connecting with consumers at the right touchpoints will become more defined and accurate, and creating 1:1 relationships using data becomes even more vital. It's no surprise brands will need to continue leveraging data to better tailor online experiences—but it's important to develop a tactile strategy rather than trying to reach your customers on every channel (social, dot com, retail, marketplaces, OTT and more). A brand’s owned site should be the hub of their online experiences and act as an anchor for consumers as well as a reliable point of purchase. 

Emily Staples, Senior Associate of Commerce Strategy at Publicis Commerce, emphasizes that consumer journeys continue to be less linear. As a result, "it’s important to understand CRM and how it interacts with commerce. This helps you create personalization, seamless experiences, and build consumer loyalty."

Vice President of Product Management at Epsilon Lori Kimpton echoes these sentiments. “While brands may often focus solely on either a lower or upper funnel strategy, it's important to think about bringing these two together to create a more unified customer experience. Journey unification is going to be key - so while many brands may have historically thought about customer touchpoints in siloes and talk to their customers in disjointed ways, the focus should now be on developing holistic customer strategies and personalization."

According to Tyler McDaniel, Vice President of Product Management at Epsilon, opportunities in journey orchestration are a key strategy for brands to look to in 2023 as well. "[These] come in two facets" he says, "improving channel coordination with the integration of first-party data and applying journey orchestration across all channels." 

Digital experience

As the attention economy becomes more competitive and consumers are surfing multiple channels at once, the online experiences brands provide become more important. ​

Live commerce, the combination of streaming video and e-commerce is becoming more popular as photos are no longer enough to convince shoppers to convert. The next digital experience voyage is within voice capabilities—this includes voice search on websites, voice reviews, and voice devices becoming more adapted in consumers shopping experiences. ​

But live commerce strategies aren't necessarily a one-size-fits-all for every market. For instance, what works in parts of Asia or Europe might not be a fit for those in North America. "Publicis Commerce has been working with a number of partners and platforms to bring live commerce experiences to life in ways that make sense for consumers in the western market," Staples says.  

The creator economy continues to play a huge rule in influencing consumers' purchasing habits. As the area becomes more saturated, it's now not only important to partner with the right influencers but also encourage everyday consumers to produce advocating content on your brands behalf. Use user generated content in your marketing for more authentic messaging. ​

Consumer journey

As shifting behaviors become clearer, the consumer journey is redefined with new priorities.

Gen Z have become more prominent purchasers in 2022 and they aren’t turning to search when it comes to discovering products. Discovery now begins at social. According to Staples, "Gen Z are another year older and are more of a force than ever. Their drive of #tiktokmademebuyit has taught marketers new strategies that are being applied to other social platforms, media, and shopper marketing, which will only grow stronger in 2023." Brands need to start refining their social content to help with the discovery process and build out their social storefronts to collapse the funnel. 

As inflation becomes an increasing barrier for sales, consumers are spending more time researching before they buy. This includes wanting more proactive customer service, leaving and reading more extensive online reviews, and interacting with brands through chatbots. Be prepared to monitor more channels for consumer feedback and requests.

This means brands need to engage in more meaningful ways with customers they already have, according to Kimpton. "Engaging in deeper conversations is key," she says. Also, with customers potentially spending less, brands will need to invest in finding more customers, which is where the use of data assets becomes a valuable lifeline. Solutions such as clean rooms and digital CDPs can be used to acquire and communicate with customers that look like your brands best customers.

Data and tech

New technology and data access allow for more efficient ways to manage commerce and reach consumers.

Many developers will opt to go "headless" in 2023. This means your frontend and backend are decoupled. This architecture comes with a plethora of benefits including more flexibility, channel connectivity and deeper personalization for an enriched customer experience.

With the loss of cookies, more brands have turned online touchpoints into battle grounds for consumer data. This includes using quizzes, polls and surveys to collect information. Brands also need to consider heightened consumer desires around data protection. So, collect that data and hold it tight. ​

As McDaniel points out, "Don't take your foot off the gas for first-party data strategies even if it's hard or messy because it's a foundational step. Once this is established, brands can start to apply AI and machine learning to acquire customers and create look alike analyses and align new customers to a consumer journey. With brands sitting on more valuable data, it's also important to take a look at monetization strategies on that data, obviously with consent and privacy remaining top of mind." 

The sophistication of AI has reached a point where it can help brands in several ways. Aside from machine learning models, other applications include forms of inventory management, various roles in customer service with chatbots and personalization of product recommendations. "Automate with intelligence," McDaniel says, which rests on a foundation of identity solutions. "We've seen consumers make a hard right on 'opt out' as they are bombarded with irrelevant messaging, but the customers benefit when the degree of relevance is greater." 

Whether your brand is looking to create seamless offline and online experiences, increase brand loyalty through commerce experiences or cement an identity resolution, Epsilon can help your brand turn New Year’s resolutions into tangible results.