The retail industry underwent several transformations over the past years and continues evolving. Led by technological advancement and rapid E-commerce growth, the industry is continuously looking for process automation to cater to the growing needs of customers. In 2019, emerging technologies are likely to define the retail market as well as how the companies make use of upcoming technology, such as Virtual Assistant to reach their customers. Let's have a look at the latest retail trend for the year 2019. E-commerce continues its march towards rapid growth with more than a billion dollar sales happening on online outlets.
I don't know what I want but I want it now. This is the anthem of e-commerce in the on-demand economy; built on a solid foundation of total convenience. Technological advances during the information age across industries have spoilt us for choice and availability. We want what we want faster and cheaper than before. This benchmark in human behavior has transformed us into hyper consumers of everything.
With more than 6000 brick-and-mortar stores closed in 2017 in US alone, according to Fung Global Retail & Technology, specialists predicted a "retail apocalypse". However, according to Statista, e-commerce represents only 10.1% of the total retail globally and is expected to grow up to 15.5% by 2021, so there's still a lot of room for growth.
The rise of e-commerce over the last 10 years or so has forced retailers to adapt to the changes demanded by consumers. E-commerce growth continues to accelerate and outpace growth in the brick-and-mortar channel, and online sales accounted for almost 20% of total US sales this holiday season, based on preliminary estimates. In addition, department stores have offered discounts and promotions as a key tool to drive demand and bring consumers into stores. Over time, this strategy can dilute a store's brand and leave stores looking picked through. Also, it trains consumers to wait for discounts instead of buying products at full price. There has been a significant number of store closures in the last few years, and we expect that to accelerate in 2017 and in the following few years. As the department store channel shrinks, and more brands fight for less space, we think brands will need to be more creative, flexible and diversified in their approaches. One way brands can disrupt the more traditional wholesale channel without taking on the significant real estate risk that comes with opening their own stores is to open pop-up stores. With pop-ups, brands have complete creative control of the brand experience and how their messaging is communicated to consumers. They can tell the story they want to tell and explain in their own voice what the brand stands for. In some cases, brands use pop-ups more as an advertising tool than as a place to transact commerce. These kinds of pop-ups usually offer some kind of special experience to draw consumers into the store. Pop-ups can also be set up in locations other than malls, allowing brands to reach their target customers where they are. Retailers and brands can also use pop-ups to test the waters in the most expensive shopping areas, often at discounted rents, while landlords can use the temporary stores to show off the space to prospective long-term tenants. Mall operators are receptive to pop-ups, as they bring something new and unique to consumers. Real estate firm Related Companies has used pop-up shops at the Time Warner Center in New York City to provide a fresh feel and add variety for consumers.
Not only are online retailers competing with other online stores and brick-and-mortar locations, but also the overall noise that is the Internet. We live in a world where consumer attention span is getting shorter and shorter: 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, and the average shopping cart is abandoned more than 68 percent of the time. I'm hard pressed to find an ecommerce site that is not constantly scrambling to engage more and drive more sales. Technology is finally helping with those efforts in a big way. Artificial intelligence (AI), which has demonstrated its value in industries like marketing, healthcare and finance, is now making a splash in online commerce.