Online Retail Trends to Expect in 2018

Jan 16, 2018

Both online and in-store technology have a significant impact on the retail and e-commerce trends taking hold in 2018. In 2017, trends surrounding subscription and box services, enhanced mobile retailer apps, and same-day or expedited shipping reigned supreme over the online retail space. While those trends will continue with the ever-increasing consumer demand for them, retailers can expect a few more trends to hit the market in 2018.

Omnichannel Retail

Omnichannel shopping refers to consumers who are browsing and purchasing products in-store and online. However, with the rise of online retail, this expands past just brick and mortar and e-commerce channels. Today, omnichannel shopping can refer to a variety of digital channels like direct to consumer sites, social media, B2B retailer sites, and marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist. This trend is taking hold in a variety of ways:

  • Webrooming and showrooming: Webrooming is when consumers search for products online before purchasing them in-store. Showrooming, on the other hand, is when consumers look at products in-store, but purchase them online.
  • Click and collect: Similar to webrooming, click and collect entails a consumer ordering a product online but picking up in-store (often to avoid shipping costs or a wait time).
  • Social media in-app purchasing: Retailers have been advertising on social media outlets for some time; however, more are now utilizing the ability to allow consumers to browse and order a product through social links without ever having to leave the application. This can also be integrated with mobile payment solutions through previously stored credit information—making it easier for consumers to quickly buy products rather than abandon their purchase.
  • Mobile purchasing: There is a continued increase among consumers to use their mobile phones for browsing and buying products. As a result, many retailers have already adopted an app or mobile-friendly solution when it comes to their customer experience. Integrating this tactic with social media and the in-store experience is what in turn leads to an omnichannel strategy.

The many channels a consumer uses to interact with a brand have a large influence on how retailers conduct business and execute their marketing strategy. Those retailers that continue to adopt an omnichannel retail strategy, particularly among digital channels, will be more successful in 2018. Further, those retailers that understand an omnichannel market strategy entails looking at not only their consumers but competitor or substitute products will understand how to more effectively target and gain market share. While more seamless omnichannel strategies are usually evidence of more seasoned retail businesses, it doesn’t mean other brands can’t adopt similar tactics.

Start incorporating more market research in your digital strategy to help understand what channels your consumers are using to both browse and purchase products. Then, incorporate audience-specific message testing to understand how to create cross-channel personalization of communications. This will help to establish an omnichannel strategy that includes personalization and hyper-targeting, ultimately increasing top-of-mind awareness among only the most valuable consumers.

Automated and Streamlined Purchasing

Similar to the growth in browsing and purchasing products on mobile phones, more retailers are finally getting on board with faster checkouts. One such retailer that led the initiative is Amazon. Back in the late 1990’s, Amazon trademarked and patented their 1-Click method which allows consumers to automatically purchase a product with one click online based on prior storage of their billing and shipping information. While other retailers like Apple have been licensing this method, the patent is now up and we can expect many more online retailers to adopt a similar tactic for quicker checkouts. Why? Any form of an automated purchasing method online is likely to result in several key benefits:

  • Reduction of the cart abandonment rate (sometimes by up to 70 percent)
  • Increased customer retention, loyalty, and repeat business
  • More in-app and mobile purchases (as it is more difficult to enter customer information on mobile devices)

Incorporating a market research strategy that assesses the impact of more streamlined purchasing methods across channels helps understand consumer perceptions and the customer journey online. 

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