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Digital marketing trends in retail

The world is evolving faster than ever and the way brands communicate is changing with it. We are all connected all the time. And with the ever-growing trend of online retail, researching and buying products in our online life, it is imperative for any retail brand to have a strong, reactive and engaging digital presence.

So what are these trends? We’re not talking bardot tops and slogan tees – here’s the major digital trends to be on the lookout for in retail marketing:

1. Mobile commerce

It comes as no surprise that mobile usage is on an upwards incline. We now live in world where we no longer ‘go online’; we live online. Whether we’re looking up the latest scores, watching a recipe tutorial or tracking a workout session, our eyes and fingertips quickly turn to mobile devices throughout the day.

Google hasn’t taken this trend lightly, even launching Price Extensions for mobile. This feature allows retailers to show prices before a user even clicks on an ad.

Consumers are spending so much time on mobile devices that mobile internet traffic is now greater than desktop with over half of online sales now made through mobile devices. Additionally, mobile-first social networks like Snapchat, Instagram and mobile-based searches being carried out much more frequently, will make it hard for anyone to be a winner in the ecommerce space without a huge focus on mobile.

However, the rise in mobile usage is not as simple as creating a mobile-optimised site or an app for your brand. Key areas to watch out for in mobile commerce:

2. Chatbots

Chatbots are changing the way people interact with the web. We’re not just talking about a new web design trend here; this is going to shake up search, customer service and marketing overall. This technology is coming of age in 2017 and we’re already seeing a number of innovations from chatbot developers:

  • One-on-one chats with consumers
  • Personalised marketing messages
  • Personalised shopping experiences
  • Faster product searches
  • Faster shopping and payment processes

Personalised marketing has been talked about in the industry for years now, but chatbots look like the first platform to really make it possible. Third-party providers such as Facebook, Google and Kik are making this technology accessible and affordable to retailers of all sizes.

Monthly usage of messaging apps have surpassed social networks, so you can expect more retailers will be looking to leverage chatbots on Facebook’s Messenger platform to create a better online shopping experience. Bots will revolutionise how customers shop online, offering shoppers personalised recommendations based on their size, order history or preferences. Some sites are [already] sending their order confirmations and shipping information directly through Messenger instead of email.

3. Social shopping

Consumer behaviour is already influenced by social media (anyone else bought something they didn’t need when their favourite blogger promoted it?), but this year it’s predicted to become a bigger driver of direct transactions.

Imagine browsing your social feed and buying a product that catches your eye with the swipe of your thumb. This is looking to be the reality as of this year.

Social media platforms like Pinterest, Houzz and Instagram are already breaking the browse/buy barrier with options for in-app impulse buying. Paired with streamlined pay systems like Apple Pay, this will make those purchases dangerously easy.

In the US, online sellers are already teaming up with fast-track delivery services like UberRUSH and Postmates to get the products purchased into the hands of customers on the day they buy. This all contributes to a shopping experience that is much faster and more convenient than we’ve ever experienced.

4. Augmented and virtual reality

We have heard for some time now that Virtual/Augmented Reality really is the future of marketing but we have yet to see it take off as has been predicted for many a year. However, AR & VR all seems less futuristic-y than before and a lot more plausible with interactive ads, 3D product demos and more personalised messages becoming the norm.

Yes, it’s all very exciting, of course, but it still feels a bit like an expensive gimmick at this stage of the game.

VR headsets have already hit the market and we’ll see more augmented reality games like Pokémon Go in app stores. And there are some genuine uses where you can imagine this technology proving useful too – think travel, real estate and fashion, helping consumers better visualise their purchases.

So AR & VR really is coming, and we’ll be watching what the tech firms are up to. The retail world sure is in the midst of a reinvention powered by technology and one thing is for certain – today’s retailers need to up the stakes in order to stay ahead of the competition and keep our attention.


About the author



Michelle is part of our digital marketing team, specialising in PPC. She makes sure that our clients products and services are seen by the right people.