Here Are the Biggest 10 Ways Shopping Changed in 2018

Remember Amazon Go?

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What do cannabis, autonomous delivery and the resurrection of mall stores have in common? Each was one of retail’s biggest stories in 2018.

Take a look ahead to see what helped shape retail discourse this year—and what the industry will still be talking about come 2019.

Cashierless Stores

Amazon opened its first cashierless Amazon Go location in Seattle in January and, since then, eliminating the checkout has arguably been the year’s biggest retail craze.

Not only has Amazon Go expanded to Chicago and San Francisco, but startups like Zippin and Standard Cognition opened the doors of their own checkout-free stores. There were also reports Microsoft is working on Go-like technology. And then there are retailers like Macy’s, Sam’s Club and 7-Eleven, which have their own programs, and Walmart and Target, which gave store associates handheld devices to check out holiday shoppers. Even digitally native beverage brand Dirty Lemon, which sells drinks via text, got in on the action in New York. And with reports saying Amazon is eyeing airports for additional expansion, this isn’t likely the last we’ve heard of cashierless.

Autonomous Delivery

While retailers continue to throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks in online grocery, autonomous delivery is starting to have its moment. Kroger announced it was planning a trial with robotics company Nuro in June. It went live in November with two unmanned vehicles in Scottsdale, Ariz. That’s in addition to a fleet of autonomous Priuses with safety drivers. Walmart announced its own self-driving grocery delivery pilot with Google’s former self-driving car project Waymo in Chandler, Ariz. in July, which was followed by a trial with Ford and Postmates in Miami in November. That’s in addition to last-mile delivery robots from platforms like Postmates, which delivers food, groceries and alcohol, as well as Savioke, which has a robot that delivers food and laundry in hotels.


2018 may also be the year BOPIS, or Buy Online Pick Up In Store, truly became part of the retail lexicon. Adobe included it in its holiday tracking, noting consumers opting—to? For?—BOPIS grew 46 percent year over year through Dec. 6—and 73 percent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.


With the Farm Bill legalizing industrial hemp, expect to see the continued rise of CBD products for sale. Of course, with states like New Jersey and New York proactively moving toward legalizing cannabis, the once taboo industry will keep growing and innovate new ways to market its products, whether that’s through the Museum of Weed or an upscale place to shop called MedMen. It’s an industry that saw a lot of change and innovation in 2018 and will only continue in the new year.

Social Commerce

Brands are far from closing the ominchannel loop around social commerce, but that hasn’t stopped companies from trying to sell new products on social platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. Snapchat’s led a series of drops on its platform, with brands like Jordan and Adidas, each with notable sellout records. Instagram continues to ramp up what its platform can offer both brands and consumers, and recently introduced three new features—shopping from videos, saving products tagged in stories and the ability to view a business’s full list of products. Rumors also surfaced about Instagram supposedly developing a standalone app for shopping and Snap Inc.’s former chief strategy officer, Imran Khan, is reportedly also creating a standalone ecommerce app.

Crowdsourcing Design

Thanks to social commerce, brands are crowdsourcing new products or exclusively selling new items on these platforms. Both Nyden, an H&M brand and newcomer, Choosy are tapping into the power of Instagram to determine what its customers actually want. Direct to consumer brand Allbirds celebrated its birthday this year by dropping an entire shoe collection on Instagram. Everyone wants a piece of this up-and-coming industry.

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