"You just went super future on me, man, and I love it." We do predictions as only Future Commerce can - with honest insight into what the retail year ahead in 2018 may hold. Buckle up - it's a fast and furious ride!

Let us know your predictions for 2018! Who knows, maybe we'll share them on the show. Go super future on us, we'll love it.

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  • We reserve the right to predict more things as the year goes on.
  • A wise person once said: "How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?"

Round 1

Rolling thunder round: retail consolidation:

  • More retailers that don't belong in the landscape will go out of business.
  • We'll continue to see retailers coming together that belong together
  • And we'll continue to see a weeding out of retailers that belong in the landscape.
  • Invest in tech. If you can't invest in tech, you're marching toward bankruptcy.
  • We'll see more services like Westfield's OneMarket: retailers sharing data and tech to provide high end experiences for their customers.
  • Physical space is no longer at a premium.
  • The premium space will be experiences in, and access to, tech and data.
  • Philip's challenge: if you can only come up with technology for technology's tech, then you're in for some woes in your business.

Round 2

Flagship retail will move to true showroom:

  • We'll see more stores without any merchandise because they're:
  • Easier to stand up.
  • Easier to roll into markets.
  • Require less commitment.
  • They'll give digital consumers the ability to have the tactile experience
  • We'll have more experiential retail.
  • Delayed gratification can work in a retailer's favor: 48 hours for a product is a trained expectation, and an experiential showroom can leverage this expectation in your favor.

Round 3


  • Glossier is already pointing in this direction.
  • We'll see more and more 1 to 1 personalization at a product level.
  • Retailers will be able to have more customizable products based on your data.  
  • Imagine perfectly fitted hammers for your little hands: do it soon, hammer companies.
  • Future plug: R Riveter is coming on the show to talk about innovation in their manufacturing process soon.
  • Brian Says: "Expect to see improvements in manufacturing that result in hyper personalization in products and even services."
  • Change in supply chain and manufacturing will allow for more personalized products.
  • A company called ubiome has a product called smart gut: probiotics tailored to you.
  • Whether you like that with that is irrelevant, we're going to see more and more of this type of specialization.

Round 4

More instability in marketplace security:

  • Yet another Fortune 500 will succumb to a massive data breach like Uber's data breach that it kept under wraps for 14 months or so.
  • These data breaches are just following the economics of where people happen to be and be shopping.
  • Recently, Starbucks access points in Argentina were compromised for bitcoin mining.
  • It's not that retail is under attack, it's that all the eyeballs are heading there.
  • Macs serve as an example: they were insulated for so many years not because they were so secure, but because they had less market share.
  • These insecurities will become a fact of life.

FUTURE POLICY Ecommerce and job disruption:

  • When deciding policy, you bring in experts who can bring data to the conversation.
  • Nobody really knows what the impact will really be. But you do have analogs to look at to predict future possibilities.  
  • If robotics in automation just affect specific companies in specific places, then the idea that we should let things be is correct.
  • If automation is economically structural, then we have a communal responsibility to deal with this structurally.
  • Think globalization and trade: the same conversations happened on both sides.  
  • There are free and open market debates vs. we should close off our borders and insure our jobs stay as they are vs. the middle ground where we believe there's a net/net good outcome, but we ought to provide assistant for workers whose jobs are lost.
  • The problem is it worked in a geographically lopsided way.
  • It worked in California, but not in coal mining regions.
  • It's the same problem with retail: there are more ecommerce jobs being created than local retail jobs being lost.\ But you have a geography problem again.
  • The distribution of ecommerce goods is concentrated.
  • And that causes huge disruptions in areas where people are losing their jobs.
  • The next part of the challenge is republicans and democrats coming together and dealing with what we could and should do about this emerging lopsided job problem.

Round 5

Identity management and persistent login and single sign on will advance:

  • Amazon will really push on this. It's already available, but marketed poorly.
  • More control over single sign on.
  • Amazon will lead.
  • Payments companies can move into log on beyond just payments.
  • Brian says, "I would rather run my life through Amazon."
  • Google has made single sign on really convenient in their ecosystem.
  • Brendan Eich recently started a nonprofit called Brave that values privacy over all else.\ There's a growing trend of heightened consciousness of security and identity management and more tools to manage them coming in 2018.

Round 6

AR proliferation - of the Merchant-enablement variety:

  • It's not ubiquitous yet, but a lot of companies are investing in it.
  • A lot of interesting "AR lite" experiences already.
  • Amazon is testing AR to let you see furniture in your own rooms.
  • Target has a lego display that uses their app for AR experiences in store.
  • Ultimately, we'll see ad tech advancements in this field.
  • A lot more AR but specifically around tool enablement and Ad Tech for commerce.
  • You don't need tech to create an experience, instead AR is a tech to help retailers, not a gimmick for experiences.

Round 7 Brian's biggest prediction of the year: personal big data:

  • The New York Times explored mining your own personal data back in 2012 using your own email.
  • In 2018 the digital data we have is massive.
  • Each person is their own set of big data: body, health, financial, purchasing, relationship and social, personality, location, time, usage, efficiency data, and reading history, browsing history,  search history, chat and voice history.
  • There's a great Ted Talk by Talithia Williams on owning your own body's data.
  • But the trend is restarting a general market idea about people leveraging their own data to make better decisions and have better lives.
  • Merchants: help your customers use their data.
  • We're not all about converging on the spot, we're about lifetime customer value.
  • The best way to make a repeat customer is to help them make better decisions with their data.
  • Look for tools to help customers understand their own patterns and trends.
  • Give them the ability to do what they should do or want to do with that data.  
  • Businesses and merchants have the opportunity to be transparent about how data is used and can really allow customers to use it in the same way that businesses do it.

Round 8

Two-part prediction: AI and American decline in tech supremacy:


  • Businesses are battling market fatigue around machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • Much like watson has become a brand, AI terms are becoming brand terms.
  • Example - Shopify Hatchful: they launched an actual branding assistant that didn't do anything that couldn't be human curated. It was nothing more than a brand term.
  • At the same time, China is starting to grow leaps and bounds ahead of the US in artificial intelligence.
  • Eric Schmidt said that the US needs to get its act together in AI competition with China.
  • It's not going to bode well for us is a more stringent globalization economic policy in the us with a more astringent guidelines around immigration will create a brain drain in the US


  • Market fatigue and overuse of term AI will lead to stagnation and apathy and we'll lose the global race to artificial intelligence dominance which will lead to jobs overseas, which might then lead to new and interesting products that are actually in markets outside the US first.
  • We'll then have to experience something that we haven't had to yet: that other markets are more competitive than us, and products won't be English language first, and maybe not US dollar based.
  • All of these technologies will become part of a larger whole.
  • The thing that emerges from the ashes of those sorts of tech terms will be brand.
  • Brand affinity and inspiration from brands is powered from how they fit into your life and the things you identify with and integrate into your life.

You heard it hear first on FutureCommerce. Let us know your predictions for 2018 on futurecommerce.fm. Who knows, maybe we'll share them on the show. Go super future on us, we'll love it.

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