January 5, 2023
E-Commerce growth has continuously exploded since COVID-19. It is predicted that, by the year 2026, worldwide retail e-commerce sales will reach over 8 trillion dollars. Compared to the 5.3 trillion made in 2021, it’s evident that e-commerce’s upward trend is here to stay.
In addition to overall growth, data from 2022 reveals trends we can expect to see in 2023 e-commerce. One prediction is that consumers will continue to prefer to shop on their smartphones instead of laptops. Hand-in-hand with this, influencer marketing is still very much alive, with more people trusting the opinion of an influencer over their friends and family to make e-commerce purchases.
While endless statistics exist to predict trends in the new year, it’s also important to speak to experts in the field and gauge their opinions. To help weigh in on where e-commerce will stand in 2023, we interviewed our resident e-commerce expert: Danny He, Soapbox CEO.
A: The event that stands out most to me is the cancellation of the USPS Reseller Program in October. This really disrupted entire industries, and I think the impact of this event will resonate for years to come.
The multi-billion dollar ecosystem of USPS resale is reeling, and now not only are software companies in this space scrambling to find alternative ways to provide value for their customers, but their customers - the online sellers - are looking for additional ways to save money and find value for their own businesses.
I believe without the steep shipping discounts the reseller program provided to millions of online sellers, these merchants now have to really evaluate whether free shipping is a viable sales strategy anymore.
A: Online shopping has proven to be a more resilient form of commerce than traditional retail, and I think this year especially solidified that theory.
As an example, this past holiday season, we witnessed relatively mild Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for both traditional and online retailers. However, through the remainder of the year, online and retail sales actually had significant and sustained increases, leading to record quarterly sales for many companies. We had warehouse partners that were at full operational capacity to fulfill peak-level order volumes past Christmas when holiday sales traditionally taper off. The malls were packed to pre-pandemic levels, which is a promising outlook.
So why do online sales have an edge against traditional retailers here?
As the economy continues on its bleak outlook, consumers will be more cost-conscious than ever. Buying online allows consumers to compare and shop for lower-priced products easily in a way that retailers just simply cannot replicate in their physical stores. The burden falls on companies to find ways to get their products into the hands of their customers directly and cost-effectively.
I also think that online businesses will utilize Third Party Logistics (3PL) services even more.
The cost of industrial real estate has increased dramatically in the past couple of years, so the fixed costs of running a warehouse for a single brand has become cost-prohibitive for most sellers. 3PL usage has increased significantly, and, I think, become the default option for businesses. A good 3PL partner with great software can provide lots of operational support for omnichannel sellers.
A: COVID affected the average person more than previously thought, and online shopping has become far more significant and more pervasive in our daily lives.
What the pandemic really did is pull 2025 projections for e-commerce into 2022. Online shopping is now tied in with being a part of an online community, and that community influences behavior in terms of what sells.
I think one thing that many e-commerce sellers have struggled with is the ability to be reliable for their customers and to provide reliable products and services, and I think the supply chain issues are one of the root causes of this.
Truly ground-breaking solutions for the operations processes, from managing your products to getting those products to your customers, in general, have really lagged behind other elements of e-commerce, such as customer acquisition, increased cart sizes, and conversion rates.
At the same time, sellers quickly realized that many of their most frustrating challenges stem from a lack of transparency in logistics and infrastructure. I think those frustrations experienced in the last few years will motivate sellers to find better solutions in their supply chain and fulfillment workflows. This is where Soapbox can really help to provide a uniform operational experience and fulfillment transparency where there are currently disparate data and processes.
A: Outside of the cost of goods, most people really focus on the shipping costs. But fulfillment is so much more than shipping, and we always urge people to look at the total cost of shipment instead. We know businesses that have lost much more in sales and customer goodwill because of poor inventory management than poor shipping costs. Evaluate your product and order management processes and make sure you have as much visibility and transparency as possible.
Companies, especially more established brands, should be less conservative when it comes to improving their operational capacity and capabilities. It’s difficult to use old tools to solve new problems, and the businesses that thrive most in the e-commerce world are the ones that embrace new tech.
A: Soapbox! Seriously.
2022 was a system shock to a lot of operators for both brands and 3PLs, and so many of these issues can be traced back to a lack of transparency and disparate data and processes. We don’t know what we can’t see in business, but having tools can help uncover blind spots and find opportunities for growth. Anything that can provide ease of use, lower costs, and increased transparency with your fulfillment and your business is going to be useful.
A: Soapbox is becoming a full-fledged Warehouse Management System (WMS) and 3PL management solution.
We’re focused on helping to provide even greater transparency between brand owners and 3PL operators. We want to be able to provide full coverage of visibility within that entire ecosystem in a similar way that Amazon Logistics provides for their operational team.
Our 3PL WMS helps facilitate that, and our network of warehouses that are horizontally integrated into our solution is going to continue to grow. Rather than having to build out software and a solution that will provide your company with transparency and visibility, businesses can use our ready-made software at Soapbox to achieve the same goals.
To learn more about how Soapbox software can simplify your fulfillment, create a free account or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.