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Better delivery & distribution

Katie Smith, retail analysis & insights director, Edited:

As demand dwindles for in-store retail staff, the demand is shifting from the shop floor to delivery. Consumers will expect quicker (even same day) delivery, the convenience of scheduling a time, and easy return policies, which retailers will need to support without sacrificing margins.

Graham Charlton, editor in chief, SaleCycle:

I think consumer’s expectations around service will continue to grow. They want fast and convenient delivery options and service, and they want it free, or at least very cheap. The challenge for retailers is to meet these expectations without harming their margins.

Reliance on smart tech

James Gurd, owner, Digital Juggler:

I don’t think ecommerce customer experience will change necessarily, but I do think it will continue to evolve with more people adopting emerging tech like voice search, chatbots for customer service and personal assistants.

There is clearly a move towards doing less ourselves and relying on machines more, for example using smart tech like Hive to control home heating, lighting etc. As devices become more connected through IoT, marketers will need to stay on top of how customers find information and products, because the skills required to capture their interest need to evolve.

Graham Charlton:

If I was doing some future-gazing, I’d say something like voice purchases, given the spread of devices like the Echo and mobile voice assistants.

I do think this personalisation in its various forms will be a major focus for forward-thinking retailers. With a wealth of data on customer behaviour, producing more relevant and targeted marketing emails and online ‘experiences’ is the way to differentiate in a competitive market.

Investment in smarter exit intent

James Gurd:

I’m pretty sure we’ll see more investment in smart exit intent. By this I mean an evolution away from poorly executed campaigns that don’t align with user journeys or customer mental models, to targeting based on user needs and buying cycles.

A good example of the current bad implementation is a generic exit intent pop-up that displays if criteria X is met, regardless of the user. For example, one retailer showed me a newsletter sign-up pop-up when I tried to exit the site, straight after I’d unsubscribed from their newsletter! 

Smart exit intent aligns with customer lifecycles and product buying cycles. For example, if you know that product X typically gets 3-4 visits before being added to basket, then don’t show a pop-up with an offer on the first visit. Learn when a customer is most likely to abandon you during the buying cycle for another website, and build a messaging strategy around that journey.

Bigger mobile spend

Paul Rouke, founder & CEO, PRWD:

Consumers will continue expecting better and more intuitive experiences when shopping online – yet poor usability, which quite frankly still exists amongst many of the leading retailers in my experience, will continue frustrating consumers, particularly within the checkout.

With a continued increase in mobile browsing and shopping, consumers will be increasingly more comfortable making larger value purchases on their mobile devices.

Luxury retail will continue to gain ground

Katie Smith:

From the growing middle class in China to Millennials spending their disposable income on experiences, the average cost of luxury items is up 15.4% compared to three years ago and this growth rate will continue in 2018. And with Gen Z having a broader number of diverse backgrounds and preferences than any other generation, the luxury retail market continues to grow more than any other category.

All-round user experience

Paul Rouke:

In my opinion, the ecommerce industry doesn’t need any new trends – if I had one wish for 2018, it will be for retailers to focus on getting the basics of delivering a fantastic user experience right – through listening to customers, being experimental, and planning for long-term sustainable success. In summary, retailers should strive to think like Amazon.