2018 Global retail predictions

We used Adyen data and market research to get a glimpse into the future of retail technology in our global retail predictions for 2018.

The retail world always takes leaps, but as 2018 approaches, we have some early clues as to where it might land.

Savvy retailers constantly look for innovations that make shopping faster, simpler, and more intuitive. Last year we predicted that mobile payments, data-driven risk management, and the rise of subscription businesses would make 2017 the year of ultra-convenience.

This year, quite different themes have emerged. The first: efficiency. Millennial and Gen Z shoppers want an experience that offers the best of the online and brick-and-mortar worlds and doesn’t waste their time in either place. And as people tune in to mobile phones and devices around the clock, shoppers of all ages are embracing innovations in voice technology and augmented reality, as well as personalized shopping experiences that incorporate big data and AI.

The 10 predictions below are based on Adyen data, market research, and anecdotes from Adyen merchants around the globe.

Retail predictions for 2018

An illustration shows retail predictions ahead for 2018.

1: Unified commerce becomes the norm 

Tomorrow’s consumers will insist on efficiency, whether shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store. This means queue-busting, more ways to pay, and seamless omnichannel experiences. In a recent survey, Adyen found that shoppers of all ages would shop more often if they could avoid lines and do things like return items in a store that they bought online.

An illustration shows how technology will predict consumer preferences using big data and artificial intelligence.

2: Predicting customer preferences using big data and AI

Retailers are already using predictive intelligence to customize shopping experiences, but now they’re taking a leap forward with AI and machine learning, forecasting product preferences, habits and the way clothing fits. Live shopper recognition lets them send targeted offers to shoppers as they enter a store. And data from online shoppers can be used to create heat maps to help retailers identify new store locations. All this is made possible with unified data, which tracks shopper behavior across regions and channels.

An illustration shows the rise of the permanent pop-up shop in retail settings.

3: The pop-up becomes permanent

Why does a luxury brand need a pop-up? It adds even more exclusivity to an already exclusive shopping experience. Fendi, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton rolled out imaginative pop-ups this year, positioning themselves for social media and viral marketing opportunities. More stores will start building pop-ups into their annual budgets. 

An illustration shows the rise of the Chinese power shopper.

4: Chinese shoppers become the new global power shoppers

Well-to-do Chinese Millennials are looking for iconic brands, and they have an average of $8,000 to spend on them. In fact, Chinese tourists will by far outspend American tourists next year, a trend that will continue until 2025, when Chinese tourists are projected to spend a collective $255 billion while traveling abroad.

An illustration shows the power of ordering higher-priced goods through chat and messenger platforms.

5: Ordering more than pizza on Messenger

Ordering pizza via Facebook Messenger was last year’s news. But as consumers get more comfortable spending money on Messenger, WeChat and other communication platforms, they’re doing more than buying tickets and ordering food there, plunking down larger and larger amounts for high-end luxury goods and clothing.

An illustration shows how real-world cybercrimes will put new emphasis on fighting fraud.

6: Real-world cyber-hacks will boost efforts to fight fraud

After the Equifax hack and a slew of other breaches, cybersecurity will be top of mind in 2018. Savvy retailers will start syncing up data from all channels to know exactly what to block.

An illustration shows how augmented reality will affect retailers in 2018.

7: Augmented reality becomes an everyday shopping reality

In years past, shopping using the technology behind Pokemon Go seemed like a longshot. But Target just added AR to its mobile website, and Mastercard recently rolled out an AR shopping experience that uses ODG smartglasses and checks your identity through an iris scan. It launches at Saks Fifth Avenue in 2018.

An illustration shows the new power of voice shopping in retail in 2018.

8: Voice shopping goes mainstream

“Voice” has been the technology buzzword of 2017, but now voice shopping efforts are entering the mainstream, as Target and Walmart both recently rolled out voice partnerships with Google Home, and Alibaba said it was getting into the game.

An illustration shows a retail trend for 2018, physical stores turning into town squares.

9: Physical stores turn into town squares

The fate of the brick-and-mortar store has been unclear for years. But a new vision has bubbled up after big announcements from Apple and others, describing stores as “town squares,” places for shoppers to have social experiences like eating, drinking, and watching entertainment, rather than shopping for goods and leaving the store with them. The newest Nordstrom store reflects the shift toward “retailtainment.”

An illustration shows a retail trend for 2018, the disappearing sales associate.

10: The disappearing sales associate

The next generation of shoppers can do their own product research, thank you very much. In a recent consumer survey, Adyen found that only 7 percent of Gen Zers want sales associates readily available to make recommendations while shopping in-store. Combined with self-service and “just walk out” checkouts for everything from designer clothing to Macy’s shoes, the role of the sales associate will diminish or radically shift in 2018.


Trends change fast

Whether a shopper pays with voice recognition or an iris scan, a transaction is still a transaction. A payments platform capable of processing transactions quickly and efficiently is essential to ensure that the latest nifty retail experience isn’t interrupted in the end by a failed payment.

We hope you enjoyed this list. To download our 2018 Retail Predictions infographic, click the button below.