At the end of each year, we like to reflect on the topics and subjects that were top of mind for our industry. This gives us a chance to examine the developments of the past year – and to identify key trends that we can expect to carry over in 2014.

#10 Mobile checkout creates new selling opportunities for brick-and-mortar stores
by Lisa Pearson

“In a trend that Apple started in its stores, mobile point-of-sale (POS) is increasing at a rapid rate in the retail industry. It started with Apple, then smaller mom-and-pop stores adopted the strategy as a way to save money. Now, more retailers than ever before are using tablets or smartphones as checkout devices for their customers.”

The integration of mobile and tablet devices is easily one of the most important consumer trends of the year and its inclusion in the retail shopping experience is rapidly becoming standard practice. Our CMO Lisa gives a great overview of how mobile point-of-sale saves time, space, and money for retailers. Experts are still divided on whether mobile POS will completely replace cash registers in retail environments, but undoubtedly we will see their use increase in 2014.

#9 Unique strategies: 4 examples from creative marketers
by Lisa Pearson

“The value of mobile marketing is its ability to be proactive and personal, allowing brands to build relationships with the customer. Though mobile enabled web sites are an important entry point into mobile marketing, they are inherently passive. The customer is depended on to remember and visit the website regularly. Make it easy for a consumer to engage with your brand by offering a user-friendly app.”

For brands to reach the increasingly detached consumer, they needed to get creative in 2013 – creative in their approach to marketing, creative with their execution. This year saw many brands launch marketing strategies that were effective at connecting with shoppers, but completely unique at the same time. In this November article, Lisa discussed a few inventive strategies that brands used to attract holiday shoppers. These campaigns may have driven in-store sales or just poked fun at competitors, but these unique strategies comprised many of the most successful marketing initiatives of the year. The key lesson for marketers from this article was very simple: Be creative.

#8 How online-only retailers can sell in the physical world
by Tara DeMarco

“However online-only retailers choose to venture offline, the important takeaway is the same for them as it has been for offline-only sellers: Consumers are channel agnostic. They want to interact with products everywhere, and in every channel. The brands that make those interactions possible are the brands that will win their wallets.”

The topic of omnichannel retailing is examined in this article by our Content Strategy Manager Tara DeMarco. Specifically, how online-only retailers can use this strategy to attract consumers in the physical world back to their digital stores. Omnichannel retailing may have traditionally been a strategy of brick-and-mortar stores. But in the face of increasingly channel-agonistic consumers, all retailers must expand beyond their normal channels of communication. Omnichannel was one of the more popular buzz-words this year, and we can certainly expect to see this strategy increase among marketers 2014.

#7 “Bricks-and-mortar vs. online commerce” – the battle has ended
by Scott Anderson

“Headlines have highlighted the untimely death of many a brick-and-mortar company with the arrival of an online commerce competitor. The battle is now over. That’s because brick-and-mortar and digital are now one in the same. You can’t have one without the other. The proliferation and rapid evolution of smartphones places ecommerce right into the heart of every physical store – and if the retailer acts now, they can use this to their advantage.”

Continuing the omnichannel topic, showrooming has been a growing trend for the past few years, but 2013 proved to be the year when retailers capitalized on the practice to better engage shoppers. Scott Anderson, our VP of Marketing Communications, tells us that brands and retailers alike should focus on adopting omnichannel communication strategies to better reach showrooming consumers. Major retailers like The Home Depot, Best Buy and Walmart have launched extensive campaigns to connect with shoppers using mobile devices in their stores. These programs have allowed retailers to facilitate a combination of online and offline shopping for consumers. Undoubtedly, we can expect this trend to increase among retailers in 2014.

#6 Responsive design: How to make your site effective on every size screen
by Billy Hollis

“Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Microsoft, Google (I could go on) are all innovating on already great products for the mobile web. Each screen resolution and size is different. There are tablets, phones, gaming consoles, on and on. Consumers bounce around between many of these devices when shopping and buying. How can brands develop an omnichannel plan that serves every device?”

This was a great article from Billy Hollis, our Design & Experience Manager, on the topic of responsive design. Many experts and blogs named 2013 the year of responsive design. More than a trend, responsive design cemented itself as a necessity for any web property. According to Billy, the successful implementation of responsive design has to be based on the experience and UI design. Designers cannot assume that design styles for a desktop web presence will work when adapted to a smaller screen or device. This article is a must for anyone looking update or redesign their website in 2014.

2013 has been an amazing year for developments in the fields of marketing, branding and retail. We look forward to more amazing developments in the months ahead. If there are topics or subjects you would like to read more about please let us know, right here in the comments, or on Twitter at @Bazaarvoice. This blog exists for – and because of – you, our readers, and we try to write every post with that truth in mind.