Mobile goes brick-and-mortar

Mobile drives massive retail engagement and ecommerce sales. In August, online retail purchases made from smartphones and tablets topped 13%, five percentage points higher than the year before.

While mobile has long been seen as a threat to the traditional shopping experience, in 2014 the two will likely start looking less ‘foe’ and more ‘friend’.

One company leading the charge is Hointer, which connects QR codes to apparel hangtags. Consumers scan tags and add items to an in-app shopping cart and, when they’re ready to hit the fitting room, those items will be waiting for them in a pre-determined stall.

Estimote is also making waves, with its soon-to-be-released line of beacons that deliver contextually relevant information based on proximity to products, departments, etc.

Think special offers on dairy as you’re strolling through the milk aisle, or a how-to video on the cordless drill you’re eyeing, delivered in real time.

Get in the game

It’s the buzzword of buzzwords this year and, in 2014, gamification will explode. This relatively new tactic has been touted as the “it” way to increase activity and drive massive engagement, all through competition, rewards and narratives.

Plain and simple, gaming is more popular than ever, crossing every demographic line and social platform, and brands that tap into it are reporting engagement pickups of 100-150 percent across uniques, page views, activities and time spent.

In 2014, gamification will move from the nice-to-have to need-to-have bucket. It’s expected that 70% of the world’s 2,000 largest companies will be tapping into gamified experiences by end-of-year.

But the challenge for marketers will be that these experiential extensions will need to pay off, the same goes for the host of apps and social experiences that emerged in 2013. All will need to monetize come next year, and move from experimental to revenue-driving buckets.

Getting to know you

Automation and personalization are on the rise and, paired with the now-ubiquitous nature of testing, 2014 will no doubt be the year of the consumer. A host of new tools are making testing and optimization easier and more results-driven than ever, and are eliminating the need for complicated code or custom builds.

Virtually anyone can run A/B and multivariate tests, determine best offers and create custom visitor segments.

Next year, though, best-in-class systems will make it possible to use automated behavioral targeting and personalized product recommendations to engage consumers and take advantage of cross-sell opportunities even more.

Think automating content to specific shoppers, connecting relevant information and products to consumers based on historical and affinity data and offer delivery that is virtually guaranteed to convert.

If you wear it…

Tomorrow’s connectivity will literally be an arm (or eyelash) distance away. From Google Glass to a breed of ‘smartwatches,’ true integration with wearable technologies will begin to emerge in 2014, taking connectivity to the next level.

You’ll speak to send a message, pontificate and actually get a response and capture moments from the glasses resting directly on your face. You’ll view text messages, social media alerts, monitor calls and control smartphone music directly from your wrist.

And with increasingly lower buy-in points (Pebble—the $10.2 million Kickstarter darling—is just $150), it’s only a matter of time before this technology takes off.

The New Year is near and, with it, comes tremendous opportunities for growth, success and game-changing techniques for all areas of industry. Cheers to a great year that was and a great and consumer-focused year ahead.