Whether you ushered in 2016 feeling ahead of the ecommerce technology curve or still have some catching up to do, one thing is certain: e-commerce innovation is constant. If you can wait long enough, have room on your calendar and money in the marketing budget, attending top industry summit this year may be one resolution to consider to maintain your e-commerce edge. If not, getting a feel for what others are making room for in their 2016 strategies and making a plan to incorporate what works for you is a great way to start the new year. Here are just some of the things you can expect to see more companies moving towards in the year ahead:

Merging the online and in-store experience

There used to be a fairly clear line dividing demographics by those who preferred a brick-and-mortar experience to those who shopped online. Today, max imizing customer conversions has become a sophisticated strategy for bothData-driven companies will be the best at this, of course, as merging the two experiences will require some pretty heavy data lifting.

Some examples of how stores are implementing a more holistic approach to understanding and shaping the customer buying journey include:

  1. Tracking social data, like Pinterest pins, to identify trending products and promote them in-store, marked by physical product signage to social media references.
  2. In-store touchscreens encouraging social media participation suggest a more immersive experience and aid associates to promote a better customer experience across both channels.
  3. Leveraging existing digital data to deliver contextual value in-store is key. This might include something like “in-store mode” on the retailer’s mobile app that uses geofencing to offer targeted services to in-store customers

Gaining more spend from younger

Digital strategies equipped to successfully engage minors aged 12-17 will become more lucrative as innovations in mobile payment methods are circumventing this group’s previous inability to pay by personal credit card. For example, Apple Pay makes it possible for teens to confirm payment by using the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, where the money is transferred directly from his’ or hers’ parent’s mobile wallet.

Incorporating alternative shipping options

As customer expectation for expedited (often same-day) delivery increases, retailers must cater to this new normal in order to remain competitive. That said, a lot of eyes in 2016 will be on top innovators in the “freelance delivery” industry whose courier-service and crowdsourcing methods are shortening delivery times and opening up new ways for retailers to increase customer satisfaction. Big names to watch for in this space include Uber and Amazon.

As with everything e-commerce today, retailers with the most reliable digital-driven strategies will be best equipped to capitalize on these and other e-commerce innovations in the works.

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