The way people shop and engage with brands is changing. At the same time, economic growth continues to slow. Fashion retailers need to stay alert now more than ever in order to adapt to the changing wants and needs of their customers. 

So what are the fashion industry and eCommerce trends that could drive your brand forward in 2024? Below, we’ve handpicked five key trends that disruptive brands will be making the most of this year. Will you be one of them?

1. Artificial Intelligence

2023 was arguably the year of artificial intelligence (AI). No technology made quite as many strides – and waves – in the public forum as AI. In fashion, too, it has become commonplace, playing an increasingly important role in retailers’ operations. 

We even saw AI on some of the world’s biggest runways: At Paris Fashion Week, Naomi Campbell sported the Humane Ai Pin, and in New York Collina Strada reimagined its signature brand aesthetic via AI.

Of course, the applications of AI in fashion don’t end there: Whether it’s design, personalization, enhancing the customer experience, or optimizing supply chains, every part of your business could benefit from an AI injection. 

According to McKinsey, AI is expected to boost fashion industry profits by an additional 150 to 275 billion USD within the next three to five years – a projection not to be sniffed at. There’s also hope of AI tackling some of fashion’s biggest challenges, such as improving inclusivity and sustainability measures, and boosting creativity across the board.

With the rapid growth of AI, the opportunities seem boundless. But with new tech comes new challenges. Learn about the big challenges AI presents in the guide 10 Biggest Fashion Industry Challenges in 2024.

2. Social Commerce

Social commerce allows consumers to buy goods and services via their favorite social media apps. In parts of Asia, this is hardly a brand new concept. Live shopping (i.e. shopping via a social media live stream), in particular, has grown incredibly popular.

The total revenue coming from live shopping streams in China alone was projected to hit 720 billion USD in 2023. However, numbers to confirm whether this figure was reached are yet to be released. 

In the Western world, social commerce has had somewhat of a slow start. However, it has been gaining momentum in the last few years. For many millennial and Gen Z consumers who have grown up online, Instagram and TikTok have become both go-to search engines and digital shopping malls. 

On top of Instagram’s product tags, which these users already have become accustomed to, TikTok recently launched its own live shopping feature. It’s yet another opportunity for brands to sell to younger audiences. TikTok Shop is modeled on the brand’s China-based sister app Douyin, which has sold more than ten billion products. If it can replicate the same success Douyin had in Asia, there is massive potential for western brands on TikTok. 

What’s more, statistics suggest that live commerce alone could account for 10% to 20% of eCom sales by 2026, meaning there’s no time like the present to start taking it seriously.

3. Membership Programs

When it comes to creating customer loyalty, membership programs are hardly the new kid on the block. In fashion, however, they’ve only been thriving for a few years – though it’s easy to see why membership programs have started taking off.

Shoppers today want to engage with their favorite brands in a more personal way. Membership programs have the power to both create the feeling of exclusivity and build a sense of community. Consumers feel like they’re part of an exclusive club while forging a personal connection with your brand. It’s no surprise that consumers rate exclusive membership perks (32%) and personalized offers (28%) as some of the most attractive features of a membership program.

One popular example is the Kate Hudson-founded athleisure brand Fabletics. Hudson famously launched the brand pioneering a flexible VIP membership that gives customers exclusive access to drastically reduced prices across all collections.

H&M also offers an extensive membership experience. Benefits include things such as free shipping and returns, exclusive member discounts, and the ability to recycle old clothes in store in exchange for shopping vouchers. 

Whether or not you choose to charge for these brand benefits is up to you and your type of program. While Fabletics opted for a paid and flexible subscription model, other offers, like H&M’s, are free to join.

4. Next-level Gamification

Making your online experience more fun and engaging can no longer be a secondary priority. Whether it’s on your app, website, or part of your social media strategy, consumers gravitate towards brands that go the extra mile to entertain them. Chinese online retailer Temu, for example, keeps consumers glued via its hyper-personalized, scrollable feed (in addition to its extremely low-price strategy).

Moreover, gamification is about tempting online users to take an action and increase your overall brand engagement. You can do this through a content discovery feature, for example, via a hyper-personalized feed and digital advertising à la Temu, or organically by prompting your online audience to actively comment on and share your content. All of the above can boost your brand’s online reach and prompt more site actions – and sales.

5. Online and Offline with Omnichannel

When many in the industry feared the end of brick-and-mortar stores in 2020, most retailers made it their mission to amp up their online game. But if 2023 proved anything, it’s that brick-and-mortar retail is here to stay. As we spend the majority of our everyday lives glued to digital screens, shoppers have been demonstrating an increased desire to shop in physical stores. 

The draw? The opportunity to directly engage with products and store clerks – away from the digital world but not completely disengaged from it. Many consumers research products or services online before heading in store. And once they’re in there, they’re willing to spend: 31% of shoppers are ready to immediately purchase an item they discovered in store.

For brands, this makes having a coherent omnichannel experience more important than ever. It’s no longer a question of either/or, both units have to work together in order to succeed.

Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer looking to go online, or an eCom brand wanting to settle in “the real world”, creating a seamless synergy between both entities is essential for a consistent customer experience.

For many stores, tools such as Click & Reserve and Click & Collect are already standard practice. On top of that, brands can woo consumers by implementing features, such as in-store returns. And they can improve fulfillment by shipping items directly from one of their physical branches.

In light of the ongoing economic slump, the fashion industry continues to face big challenges. Make sure your brand thrives – even when others are struggling. Download our guide to learn more about the industry’s biggest challenges – and how to use them to future-proof your business in 2024.