The U.S. retail industry will reach $5.2 trillion in 2018, says The Future Of Retail 2018, a report released by BI Intelligence in early December. That’s up from $4.7 trillion in 2015, $4.9 trillion in 2016, and $5.1 trillion in 2017. The report also revealed that mobile makes up most e-commerce growth and will soon account for half of all online sales. In 2017 Americans spent an average of 2 hours and 51 minutes accessing the internet on their phones, more than on any other device. So how can retailers close more sales this year? Offer a Shopping App 85% of the time Americans spent accessing internet on their phones was using apps. A survey by market research company Clutch found consumers use shopping apps for the following reasons: \tGet deals and offers – 68% \tFlexibility to buy at any time – 64% \tCompare products and prices - 62% \tSave time at the store – 54% \tSee more inventory – 53% \tAvoid going to the store – 47% \tSave time using curbside pickup – 27% The BI Intelligence report stated that, despite the preference for apps, only half of customers make online purchases in apps. One reason is many apps take a long time to load and consumers won’t wait \u2028more than five seconds. More than half of consumers abandon purchases on mobile. As a result, many retailers are missing a big opportunity. One way some retailers have reengaged consumers on apps is through push notifications - retailers who used them saw the completion of 9.6 times more purchases and had an average 16% higher order value, according to research from Leanplum. Improve the Online Experience The 2018 Retail Trends Report from AllianceData looked at how brands can meet the expectations and demands of connected customers. Suggestions included: \tFind new ways to use technology to improve the customer experience, such as self-service product discovery tools, augmented experiences, and in-the-moment connectivity. \tIdentify the devices customers use most and integrate emerging technologies in apps to create enhanced experiences. \tAnticipate customer needs and make products available exactly when, where, and how customers want them. Offer options like instant pickup and on-demand delivery. \tTest combining devices and technologies, such as voice commerce applications like Google Home and Alexa, RFID, beacons, mobile applications, Internet of Things, and wearable devices. Even with the importance of online shopping, retailers need to keep their physical stores relevant to customer needs. Understanding how, when, and why customers use physical locations is a way for retailers to identify opportunities that influence store design, products, and services. Stores can then give customers a compelling reason to visit by creating experiences that tap into emotions.