6 Digital Retail Trends to Watch in 2017

Blog / Sean Hardies

2016 was a wild year. Bonfire moved into a brand new space, finished a bunch of exciting projects, and cooked up some of the best chili this side of the Mason Dixon line. To celebrate the arrival of spring - we’re going to throw out some predictions for what the digital landscape is going to look like for retailers for the rest of 2017.

1. Mobile Commerce

This one’s a bit of an obvious one; mobile traffic globally has already overtaken desktop and other platforms — but that’s just the beginning. By the end of 2017, it’s estimated that 4.77 billion people will be using smartphones. Granted, most of this growth will be coming from the Asia-Pacific region and Africa, but mobile sales are also booming in the United States.

Take last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday, for example; American shoppers alone purchased $2.4 billion worth of goods via mobile phone or tablet in just those two days. Mobile payment platforms like Paypal are helping to speed this adoption along — it alone processed over $14 billion on mobile in 2016.

With such a gargantuan shift towards mobile, retailers must focus on building an online presence that works seamlessly on all screens. Mobile-friendly or ‘mobile-only’ sites won’t be sufficient anymore for the kind of multi-device behavior that’s becoming the norm.   

Paypal Payment

2. For New Retail Entrants? E-Commerce will be King:

Want to get into retail? Get your act together online first.

Web and mobile presence was the #1 strategic investment for retailers in 2016, alongside social media and digital marketing. Especially if you happen to be a startup, these are now the primary points where your brand will be discovered. This doesn’t mean that the retail experience is entirely supplanted by E-comm. However, having an ‘always-on’ platform for selling merchandise is a must - which is why a website should always be your first draw.

3. Social Shopping

Instagram recently rolled out a feature that enables brands to tag products that are featured in the images they post (much like someone would tag friends in a photo). By tapping on those product descriptions, users are able to go to the brand’s website to learn more and make a purchase.

Facebook too, has been pushing a new platform called Canvas Ads. These newsfeed ads were designed strictly for mobile and are intended to offer a deeper and more engaging experience for those browsing on smartphones.

With product recommendation engines and user reviews becoming a key part of the e-comm ecosystem, we’re going to start seeing more and more transactions that are happening on social media.

Canvas Ads

4. Interactive Experiences

As we’ve seen — print as an advertising/publishing medium hasn’t gone away, in much the same way that brick & mortar retail isn’t 'dead.' They're both simply reinventing themselves. Companies are still printing catalogs, but these days they’re starting to complement them with assets like digital lookbooks and interactive catalogs. Printed catalogs just don’t have the shelf life that they used to — and consumers need more touch-points than they have in the past. The solution? Retailers are turning to digital assets to help them get more in sales for the life for their dollar.

Don't get us wrong, we still love great paper stock that's hot off the press with killer photography & design to bring it all together - but these days every book/magazine needs a digital sidekick.


5. Content Personalization & Retargeting

Personalization has been an idea that’s been floating around for some time, but it's becoming more than just a buzzword. It is a marketer's dream to get this right. Content personalization requires an enormous amount of data and infrastructure to handle its implementation. Few companies have been able to achieve it successfully at-scale (Amazon, naturally, being one of them) but third-party ad companies like Criteo, Monetate, and Dynamic Yield are getting very close.

Our bet is that more retailers will be turning to personalization to give them an edge — despite the hefty price tag involved.

6. Live Streaming

Facebook & Twitter recently rolled out their own platforms for streaming live video. It’s still early, but it opens up a ton of content opportunities for brands looking to attract attention and grow their following via social media.

Product demonstrations, interviews, production tours - you name it, it’s all on the table. Whatever your thoughts may be on live content, it certainly opens up the market to certain smaller brands that would not traditionally have access to mediums like television.

Facebook Live

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Looking to add something from this list to your marketing mix? Get in touch! We'd love to hear from you.