Editorial note: this article was last updated Jan. 29, 2019

Author: Editor in Chief of Shopify Plus, Aaron Orendorff

“No industry,” wrote Harvard Business Review at the close of 2018, “is failing faster than retail.” At risk of contradicting the Crimson: bullshit. Sweeping proclamations make for great sound bites and (scholarly) clickbait. But the truth? Not so much.

At the opposite extreme lay headlines trumpeting “voice-search buying,” “Instagram-worthy pop-ups,” and “VR-enabled O2O experiences.”

What the data shows — and what the leaders we spoke to from brands at the forefront said — isn’t that retail is failing nor that success is tied to innovation for innovation’s sake. Instead, it points to the now unignorable center of commerce: customer choice. What is the future of e-commerce for 2019 and beyond? 10 insights offer the answer:

  1. Ecommerce v Retail: The Dichotomy Ends

  2. DTC Emerges as Commerce’s Future

  3. More than “Digitally Native” Tactics

  4. Content Becomes the Holy Grail of Growth

  5. Physical and Digital Solidify Their Relationship

  6. Social Commerce Evolves or Limps to the Grave

  7. Channels Must Deliver on Their Promises

  8. Mobile Buying Is (Almost) the New Normal

  9. Micro-Moments Win or Lose Conversions

  10. International Ecommerce Expands to the East