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Looking backwards to go forwards

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As 2017 comes to a close, it is time to pause – albeit briefly – and assess what we have learned and what this means for the year ahead. In mobile commerce, it’s been an interesting year, with mobile becoming the cornerstone of Black Friday and the run up to Christmas, with consumers not only opting to shop more online this holiday season, but embracing the convenience of the mobile with alacrity.

Mobile has been a driving force of online all year, racking up an astounding £18bn in sales through the channel across the whole of 2017, according to eMarketer. Meanwhile, a Christmas and Boxing Day couch shopping frenzy will see not only the first ‘Billion Pound Boxing Day’ from an ecommerce perspective, but one again driven by the convenience of mobile.

What this has shown across the run-up to Christmas has been that shoppers are increasingly shopping online and when doing so reaching for mobile phones and tablets to do it. And this has had a huge impact on the High Street. While poor weather has slowed in-store sales, the ease and trust in mobile retail has dealt a near fatal blow to many shops. Many are hoping that this Saturday will see that trend reversed, but overall mobile is driving the massive growth of online shopping.

Clearly there is much that can be learned from this and it will see the high street make a much needed leap into the future come 2018. It is now imperative that shoppers are drawn into stores using technology to make the high street a viable channel.

And it can all start in January, when the sales kick off and when the returns flood in. Oh the joy of January, when stock floods back into stores and money whooshes out the tils back into consumer’s bank accounts.

But with most shoppers preferring to return goods to a store, retailers need to look at how to capitalise on their presence, if not their presents. Mobile can be used to help the returns process but more than that it can be used to keep people in the store when they arrive to return. And used cleverly, in-store mobile marketing here can actually lead to some of that returns money flying back out of their wallets and into your tills.

This is the immediate future. Across the rest of 2018, there are many lessons to be learned from how things have gone, latterly, in 2017.

As we predict, AI, AR and other tech will lead to what is being knows as A-commerce, which uses artificial overlays and brains to deliver the personalised-at-scale experience that so many shoppers now demand. This will drive pretty much all the developments we are likely to see across 2018: personalised services, better data management, increased traffic, and better in-store experience.

It will also play a role in 2018’s other hot ticket: conversational commerce. Voice-activated devices are going to be one of the must have gadgets for Christmas 2017 and this will see to rapid growth in people using Alexa and Home et al to shop. This is going to be a massive challenge in 2018 for retailers – how do you actually tap into this and make it happen? It is a huge shift in how e-commerce works and one which I fear many aren’t remotely prepared for yet.

But that is all for next year. For now it is time to take the foot of the gas and look at having a couple of days off, fretting not so much about conversion, but about mince pies. Have a lovely Christmas and see you in the New Year for more exciting developments and shenanigans in 2018!


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