What will happen in e-commerce during 2016?

Although it still only represents a small percentage of total retail sales, e-commerce is one of the biggest subjects in retail for 2016.

Shipping software provider TrueShip offers the following list of 10 predictions for the direction of e-commerce in the new year.

1. Amazon will become the new Walmart. Amazon surpassed Walmart in terms of market capitalization in 2015. In 2016, TrueShip predicts Amazon’s collection of small businesses using it as a sales platform will dislodge the huge entity Walmart as the overall top retailer in terms of influence, stature and reputation.

2. E-commerce will represent 10% of all retail. Based on 17% year-over-year growth between 2014 and 2015, TrueShip expects e-commerce to increase from about 7% of all retail to 10% by year end.

3. Facebook will overtake YouTube for branding. Although more brands still use YouTube for video promotion than Facebook, Facebook videos get more total views. In 2016, this will lead to Facebook becoming the top video branding platform.

4. Emotionally driven shopping will become the new standard. Online retailers will make shopping emotional with tools such as shared shopping lists, consumer referral engines and online social shopping communities.

5. In-store pickup will save big-box chains. In-store pickup is faster than home shipment and avoids shipping fees. This will help keep big-box chains relevant in the face of online competitors such as Amazon.

6. Competitors will create Amazon Prime-like portals. Online retailers such as Newegg and third-party platforms such as ShopRunner have already launched subscription-based shopping portals that mimic the Amazon Prime model. Although nobody will be able to match all the features of Amazon Prime, more players will enter the space.

7. Drones will begin delivering packages. Amazon will launch the drone era by offering Amazon Prime Air, which provides drone-based deliveries in as little as a few hours, in at least one market.

8. Marketplace-based selling will shift the industry. Marketplaces such as Etsy, which offer a single access point to thousands of sellers and millions of products, will continue growing in popularity and prompt imitation.

9. Mobile shopping will overtake desktop. TrueShip expects 60% of holiday shopping to come from smartphones and tablets in 2016.

10. Hassle-free returns will be expected by consumers. Offering easy online returns will become a requirement to stay competitive rather than a competitive differentiator.

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