The pandemic’s impact on the rise of ecommerce and the resulting shift in consumer behaviour is now well known. As people sheltered at home and businesses shut down, ecommerce became a lifeline for people to buy the items they needed. And ecommerce buying trends became more complex and nuanced.
As a result, ecommerce became one of the biggest success stories of the 2000s. Ecommerce sales grew 50% during the pandemic to become an $870 billion business, and that success shows no sign of slowing down. Ecommerce sales are projected to reach $5 trillion in 2022 and $6 trillion by 2024. Even as brick-and-mortar stores stage a comeback, online shopping with ecommerce brands is here to stay.
The pandemic not only changed how consumers shopped but also what they shopped for. Spending on food and alcohol greatly increased, as did sales of home electronics, streaming services, disinfectant wipes, furnishings and pet-related products. The online grocery ordering and delivery industry exploded. As people rediscovered the joys of cooking, reading and gardening, the sales of items related to those activities also skyrocketed.
Social Media’s Influence on Ecommerce Buying Trends
As the pandemic dragged on, social media influencers educated consumers on the trendy online items people just had to have. Social media became online boutiques for hot items in beauty and personal care products, fashion, and fitness. Social influencers would not only tell people the best products to buy but also demonstrate how to use them. The result was wave after wave of product trends, some that stuck and others that quickly faded away.
As the pandemic wanes, many popular trending items that made a splash in 2020 and 2021 have flamed out. Peloton is perhaps the biggest example of this. Sales of two of the pandemic’s hottest trends, home appliances and electronics, have also dropped considerably. How many air fryers and computer monitors do people need?
Even now, as customer demands continue to shift, new ecommerce buying trends seem to emerge and disappear every week. The reality is that, whether because of a global pandemic or social media influence, consumer behaviour is constantly changing. Moreover, the trending products that defined one year will not necessarily define the next.
Some Ecommerce Buying Trends Continue to Be Popular
So, what are consumers buying now? Surprisingly, many of today’s hottest product trends started during the pandemic and have shown amazing staying power. According to statistics gleaned from Google Trends, here are some of the pandemic trends that continue to be popular.
Women’s and Men’s Dressy Apparel
As people return to the office and attend social activities, the sale of women’s and men’s apparel is skyrocketing. According to research, dress sales grew by 42% during the first half of 2022, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 14%. Since no dress is complete without matching accessories, footwear and evening bags are also trending.
Not to be outdone, men’s apparel is also on a healthy rebound. The sales of men’s hybrid-style sports coats used for many occasions grew 32% from 2021. Sneaker bottom-style shoes now capture one-third of the men’s footwear market. Both figures surpass 2019 sales.
All Things Pets
Isolation and seclusion were common during the pandemic, so it is no surprise that people turned to animal companionship to cope. Over 23 million Americans bought or adopted a pet during the pandemic, and pet supplies continue to make a splash.
Trending pet products for 2022 include dog donut beds, pet carriers, bathing tools, grooming and hygiene products, leashes and dewormers. Dog poop bags are also a popular trending item, especially eco-friendly compostable and “earth-rated” bags.
Health products and supplements like pet vitamins, fish oil for cats, dog probiotics and pet toothpaste are also incredibly popular. CBD products designed specifically for dogs are the fastest-growing pet supplement due to claimed health benefits and lack of side effects. Research shows that CBD oil can help treat canine osteoarthritis, which affects 20% of dogs.
The athleisure wear trend that kicked off during the pandemic remains among the top ecommerce buying trends. In fact, Forbes recently declared athleisure to be the “defining fashion trend of the 21st century.” As the name suggests, athleisure is a fusion of athletic and leisure fashions known for its comfort, style and appealing designs. It includes everything from yoga pants and leggings to sweatpants, shorts, hoodies, sneakers and even dresses. This trend shows no sign of cooling down, as predictions indicate the global athleisure market to reach $549.41 billion by 2028. In-demand brands include Buffbunny, Athleta, Beyond Yoga, Melt Fit, Old Navy and the ubiquitous Lululemon.
Smartphones are not trending due to market oversaturation, but their accessories are. Phone cases, tripods, straps, car holders, wireless earbuds and headphones and portable chargers are hot items for people on the go. Phone lenses with multiple settings are especially popular this year as people start to travel again. As more people experiment with mobile photography, attachable phone lenses with multiple settings will remain popular for the foreseeable future. Industry experts predict the global smartphone accessories market will reach $111 billion by 2025.
Luxury Resale Items
During the lockdown, people had plenty of time to declutter by clearing out their closets. This and a renewed focus on sustainability and affordability helped drive another ecommerce buying trend: luxury item resales. Customers can buy pre-owned Prada, Gucci, Armani and Givenchy at affordable prices from online resellers like The Real Real and Fashionphile. The resale of secondhand fashions is particularly popular with millennial and Gen Z shoppers, who buy pre-owned luxury clothing 2.5 times faster than other age groups. The luxury resale market topped $37 billion in 2021, and industry experts predict sales could reach $51 billion by 2023. In fact, the luxury secondhand market is growing four times faster than the primary luxury market.
Backyard and Gardening Products
Gardening gained renewed interest during pandemic lockdowns as backyards became tranquil outdoor oases for people cooped up inside. Gardening became an ideal way to spend time outside and escape the stress and worry of the pandemic. People have stuck with the gardening trend, and gardening supplies are still on consumers’ radars. Gardening tools, patio furniture, vegetable plants, seeds, fertiliser, starter kits and garden boxes are still hot selling items. The global gardening market is estimated to be worth $104 million in 2022 and will likely grow to $130 million by 2028.
Why Ecommerce Buying Trends Matter to Brands
Ecommerce businesses must keep up with the latest consumer and ecommerce buying trends because consumer behaviour constantly evolves. Knowing what consumers want and understanding the latest trends helps brands stay ahead of the competition. Consumer trend resources like Google Trends, Insider Intelligence, Semrush and Meet Glimpse can give brands valuable insight into trending products.
Smart ecommerce brands will find clever ways to integrate the trends that work best for them and their business model. The challenge is embracing the consumer trends that align with brand values and purpose. Finding a balance between staying relevant while maintaining brand authenticity is also essential. After all, what works for one brand might not work for another. Ecommerce brands need to assess how a trend will work with their target audience before going all in.
Want to learn how ESW can help your ecommerce business stay competitive in a trend-heavy retail environment? Talk to one of our ecommerce experts or schedule a demo today.