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Ecommerce: a complete guide to selling online in 2023

Whether you're updating your existing ecommerce offering or launching a new online store, your business needs a comprehensive blueprint to follow on your path to resonating success.

Best practices: marketers and product or website owners

Last updated

23 Nov 2022

From generating demand to optimizing conversions, this guide tells you everything you need to know to start planning your ecommerce strategy for 2023. Use these tips, tricks, case studies, and lessons learned to create a plan for your ecommerce store to attract, engage, and delight more customers.

Boost ecommerce conversions with customer insights

Hotjar's product experience insights show you exactly how users experience your website, helping you make changes to improve it. 

What is ecommerce?

Ecommerce refers to all activities that involve buying or selling goods and services online. This can cover everything from products like gadgets or sports equipment to software solutions and other digital services. 

As opposed to a classic brick-and-mortar store, every ecommerce transaction and interaction happens through the internet. This has revolutionized retail by meeting the changing needs of modern-day consumers and making shopping easier.

Types of ecommerce

Business to Consumer (B2C)

Sales happen between the business and the consumer. For example, if a customer buys a laptop via Amazon, they’ve just made a B2C ecommerce purchase.

Business to Business (B2B)

Goods and services are sold from one company to another. For example, Hotjar provides a software product to companies who need to understand their users.

Consumer to Consumer (C2C)

An individual person selling a product or service to another individual through the internet. Platforms and marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, or Craigslist are examples of C2C ecommerce.

Ecommerce benefits for businesses and consumers

Retail ecommerce sales worldwide are expected to grow by 50%, reaching 7.4 trillion dollars in 2025. But if you’re still on the fence about ecommerce, there are benefits to indicate that this way of doing business isn’t just rapidly growing, it’s here to stay. 

Here are some of the most significant advantages ecommerce brings to customers:

  • A wide range of goods to choose from

  • A shopping experience with added simplicity and comfort

  • Quicker and easier transactions

  • More informed purchasing decisions

  • Easier price and product comparisons

From less financial investment to worldwide selling possibilities, ecommerce is a huge deal in the world of business. Here are the most significant benefits that online retail can bring to business owners and their companies:

  • Lower overhead costs

  • More access to customer data insights

  • The ability to sell goods worldwide and around-the-clock 

  • More control over the selling and tracking process

  • Greater visibility to potential customers via SEO

With advances in technology and changes in consumer behavior, you need to keep an eye out for industry-altering trends. Elevate your ecommerce store by taking advantage of these ecommerce trends:

1. Growth in volume and value for ecommerce shopping

Next year, consumers will really lean into online shopping. Ecommerce sales have been rising constantly, with a 12.2% growth projection year-over-year. This increase in online shopping can be attributed to many factors, including:

  • A growing volume of voice search: more and more people are relying on smart speakers and voice assistants for their purchases. As more homes adopt the technology, more consumers will utilize voice search to shop online, order food, and organize their lives, with voice commerce sales expected to exceed $30 billion by 2024. This creates an opportunity for ecommerce businesses in terms of keywords and content.

  • Mobile shopping accelerates: mobile ecommerce on websites and apps is expected to reach $728.8 billion, and account for nearly 44% of US retail ecommerce sales by 2025. These stellar figures show that improving the ecommerce experience for mobile customers can be a huge opportunity for businesses to tap into.

2. Personalization: using insights to create individualized experiences

Personalization is the future of ecommerce. Both B2C and B2B shoppers are looking for personalized, custom shopping experiences online, with 49% saying they would likely become repeat customers if a retail brand offered them a personalized experience.

Whether you use it in your marketing, or take it further and include it on your ecommerce site, personalized shopping experiences can help you generate more sales. Here are a few examples of how you can offer personalization and boost customer loyalty:

  • Use personalized customer communications for email marketing, chatbot, and other types of messaging

  • Leverage user feedback to offer customized deals based on your customers' preferences

  • Create targeted content to share with your customers via video

3. A rise in AI in online shopping

Applying artificial intelligence (AI) to an ecommerce business is becoming an essential part of effective CRO strategies. From inventory management to customer service, there are many ways in which AI can serve online stores in 2023:

  • AI helps businesses learn about consumers: by collecting data on how a user shops, when they buy, and what they're looking for in a product or service, AI and machine learning help ecommerce brands provide existing and potential customers with automated, personalized shopping experiences.

  • Chatbots provide better customer service: these virtual assistants help fill the service gap by providing 24/7 assistance to your customer base. The more you use this type of ecommerce software, the better the bot becomes at answering questions, and helping users on their way to a successful purchase.

  • Targeted marketing and advertising for the ideal customer: with the right customer data, AI can even generate tailor-made content and ads to address specific user needs and target audiences. It can also predict shopping behavior based on a user’s online activity, helping optimize future ecommerce marketing campaigns.

How to build an ecommerce business: a step-by-step guide

Choose the right ecommerce platform for your business

Compare and contrast the different ecommerce platforms available out there—Shopify, Bigcommerce, WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, and more—to make the best choice for your online store.

Coming soon! đź›  How to design a great ecommerce website

Ecommerce web design is all about delighting customers every time they interact with your website. The goal is to build a website that customers can enjoy and benefit from to reduce bounce rates and boost your brand reputation and revenue. 

Coming soon! đź›  Create the best user experience for your customers

The essential features that your ecommerce website must have. Find out the key ecommerce UX design elements, principles, and best practices that will help you create a great shopping experience for your customers.

Coming soon! đź›  Strategies for ecommerce businesses to boost conversions

A strong conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy is the best way to meet your customers’ needs, deliver a solid user experience, and boost your sales long-term.

Coming soon! 🛠 Apply the jobs-to-be-done framework to your ecommerce business 

Increase online sales by using the jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework: discover insights and spot opportunities, validate ideas and prioritize changes, get buy-in and align with your team, and spot issues and prioritize fixes.

How Hotjar can help boost your ecommerce sales

Hotjar products, tools, and features for ecommerce businesses are designed to analyze your website from the customers’ perspective. Learn how to use Hotjar to better serve your customers and exceed their expectations. 

But wait! There's more! Everything you need to know to run a successful online business

→ Whether you’re a seller, buyer, or enabler, if you’re looking to break into the digital realm of ecommerce, you should be well-versed in the ecommerce jargon that gets passed around in everyday discussions. Turn to our helpful ecommerce glossary for a collection of common industry terms, phrases, and buzzwords that will give you a solid starting point.

→ And if you're serious about scaling your business into a brand, you’ll need the right ecommerce analytics tools to assess your customers' behavior. Stay tuned for this section of the guide, which covers ecommerce metrics and tactics for driving insights at each stage of the customer journey to increase sales.

Boost ecommerce conversions with customer insights

Hotjar's product experience insights show you exactly how users experience your website, helping you make changes to improve it.