Expect A Fast And Furious Year

Retail TouchPoints – 2017 has certainly been an eventful year for retail. With store closings up 218% and the competitive pressure Amazon is placing on retailers through the Whole Foods acquisition and other investments, it is clear that changes are occurring quickly and will likely continue to accelerate.

We expect 2018 will be a year of even greater flux in the industry. Specifically, there are three major trends that will greatly affect e-Commerce over the next year:

  1. Mobile and voice-assisted e-Commerce shopping eclipses traditional browser shopping

‘Big browsers’ will no longer be relevant as mobile usage continues to increase. According to IBM Watson Trend, mobile traffic accounted for almost half of the online traffic and 27.6% of online sales during Cyber Monday 2016, an increase of more than 25% over 2015. While consumers tend to still make big-ticket purchases on desktops, this gap is also closing. And this doesn’t take into account voice-enabled or digital assistants. It is estimated that 55 million individuals in the US will use a voice-enabled digital assistant at least monthly this year, while Amazon Echo is estimated to have an install base of more than 128 million by 2020. Voice assistants will be the new normal before we know it.

  1. Amazon becomes a major fashion retail force

Amazon already plays in the fashion space but the footprint continues to expand. It has ramped up its investment in fashion by launching a private-label clothing brand, and the company’s clothing and accessory sales are expected to grow nearly 30% next year, to $28 billion, according to analysts.

Amazon continues to expand into other areas of fashion. It recently introduced Prime Wardrobe, a curated assortment offering to compete with StitchFix. It has also enticed national brands to sell through the Amazon platform — the latest is Nike.

With Prime Wardrobe and additional investments in capabilities such as Echo Look’s ability to take a ‘selfie’ of an out t to make style suggestions, it is clear that Amazon takes this space seriously. We expect that it is only a matter of time before Amazon acquires the fashion retailer equivalent of a Whole Foods.

  1. The introduction of credible, autonomous vehicle delivery service pilots

Autonomous vehicles are getting better every day with millions of miles already tested both physically and virtually. Trucking and ocean transportation companies are already putting plans into place with YARA Birkeland — the first autonomous container ship — scheduled next year to sail fertilizer from a production facility to port. Using a combination of GPS, radar, cameras and sensors, the electric ship can navigate itself around other boat traffic and dock on its own.

Food delivery services are also in pilot. San Francisco-based DoorDash recently partnered with robotics startup Marble for a test to deliver orders via an unmanned machine. Ford and Domino’s are now working on autonomous pizza delivery. And of course, the epic battle of the Amazon vs. Walmart drone delivery patents continues. Nothing fuels innovation and progress more than competition.

As an industry, we need to challenge ourselves to focus on the customer experience and pursue innovation as the retail environment continues to change. And maybe buckle up, it is likely to be a bumpy ride!

Read to full special report: 2018 E-Commerce Outlook Guide

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