Is Ecommerce Expanding in 2024? Retail Trends, Sustainable Supply Chain, and Expanded Shipping Options

Category:News

After a very successful and mostly smooth Q4, I feel confident that we are past most ripples that the pandemic created. While there’s no doubt ecommerce hit some stumbling blocks this past year, it’s still growing exponentially as a retail sector. 

  • Consumers spent $222.1 billion online from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 of last year, up 4.9% year-over-year and setting a new record for ecommerce according to Adobe Analytics.  
  • The US Commerce Department reported total retail sales were up 0.3% in November, stronger than the 0.2% decline in October and better than originally predicted. 
  • Unemployment claims totaled 202,000 in early December, as reported by the US Labor Department, which was significantly less than the previous month, and lower than the projected 220,000. 

The economic projections for 2023 were weak at best, with many predicting a recession, yet at DCL the brands we work with showed significant growth. This fact makes it clear to me that we support trendsetting products, some of the best in the world, with distinct offerings in their respective verticals. DCL is successful when our customers see success, and I’m proud to see a year that started soft, ended strong. 

The one constant is that consumer demands are always evolving, resulting in major customer and industry changes. DCL’s decades of experience means we are versatile enough to give our customers a competitive edge even with shifting trends. I’m proud of our track record, because when an emerging customer asks us to support something we’ve never done before, I know we can execute and it’s exciting to see what we can accomplish together.   

As we head into 2024, I’m eager to continue to work alongside my DCL team who inspire me with a strong sense of curiosity and resourcefulness. I look forward to our team collaborating with our stellar line-up of brands. They keep us on our toes in the best way!  

Here are a few trends that I think are important in 2024.   

Green is Queen 

More and more consumers are shopping based on a brand’s commitment to sustainability. Businesses are going far beyond recyclable packaging and product materials. Green practices are now imperative for all businesses to implement—within their own operations and across their supply chain—to stay competitive in the market. 

Manufacturers, fulfillment providers, transportation providers and warehouses who have green practices throughout their facilities offer brands a more thorough eco-friendly stamp of approval.  

Retail is Back  

Omnichannel sales are now back after a big retail hiatus during the pandemic. For three years consumers were primarily buying online, but now that in-person shopping is back in full force, brands have a renewed sense of focus to get into more brick-and-mortar businesses. Additionally, brands are looking at traditional brick-and-mortar as ecommerce marketplaces opportunities, so the channels to ship via ecommerce have expanded greatly. 

At DCL we saw our customers lean hard on retail sales this year and I expect that to continue to expand. DCL shipped to 112 retailers in 2023, at least ones that required routing guides. That’s up 30% from 2022. 

A Swell of Sales Channels 

Have you made a purchase on TikTok yet? In 2022 only 9.6% of TikTok users made purchases through TikTok, but in 2023 that number went up to 33%. That’s just one of the many new sales channels that now exist for brands. I predict this explosion of new places to sell will only continue to rise in 2024.  

Expanded Shipping Carrier Options  

With the explosion of ecommerce, major shipping carriers have been under a lot of pressure. As the carrier landscape matures, emerging carriers are quickly rising to meet the reliability and cost effectiveness of the big players (UPS, FedEx, etc.) by focusing on very specific geographic regions as well as by leveraging the USPS postal network more heavily.  

Many ecommerce brands are moving away from using the major, conventional shipping companies only. In 2024 and beyond, I believe brands will be less tied to one single carrier and more focused on cost rather than speed.  

International Gaining Importance  

It’s no surprise that as ecommerce sales channels multiply, so does the international reach of direct-to-consumer shipping. People all over the globe are buying from US brands. International shipping is a complex endeavor, but one that can yield big returns if demand is there. Much like domestic expansion, there are more alternative international carriers than ever before trying to solve the complexities and hurdles that international shipping presents.  

DCL has seen a lot more interest in shipping to Canada and the EU, but other parts of the world aren’t far behind. Brands expecting to be successful when expanding their geographical reach need to work with reliable, reputable partners to ensure they meet the many detailed requirements of international shipping, customs clearance, and cross-border returns.  

Bottom Line  

It’s hard to say where the economy is headed this year. After a tumultuous few years, everyone in the shipping, logistics, and ecommerce industries has learned how to be more flexible. Projections look positive for the year ahead and I expect to see good things from the brands that DCL supports. It takes true dedication to run a successful ecommerce business. I’m eager to see the ways our industry continues to expand and grow.