Editor's Note: 5 Cross-Channel Retail Trends to Watch in 2012

While you’re probably in the middle of the busy holiday season right now, 2012 is closer than you think. As you begin to look forward to the year ahead, I’ve put together a list of predictions for what cross-channel retailers can expect come next year:

1. Omnichannel e-commerce takes hold. In the coming year, more retailers will be investing in building out their omnichannel strategies so they can accommodate (or continue to accommodate) their customers no matter what channel they choose to shop in. Most likely they’ll be choosing the web. eMarketer forecasts that U.S. retail e-commerce holiday sales (all retail e-commerce sales during November and December) will rise 16.8 percent this year to $46.7 billion.

2. Conversion marketing becomes mainstream. Retailers use conversion marketing tactics to increase sales while shoppers are on their website. This year, many innovative e-commerce companies have taken powerful insights gleaned from shoppers’ clickstream paths and inferred intent and applied them so they can display the right content and products to individual consumers at the right time, be it on their own website or someplace else on the web. This strategy will continue to gain traction in 2012.

3. M-commerce is solid and tablet shopping is on the rise. Most retailers have already dipped their toes in the mobile waters this year, so their mobile marketing and mobile commerce strategies will become more sophisticated next year. Purchasing on tablets is poised take off. While it won’t upend e-commerce by any means, it will disrupt the status quo by capturing market share from traditional web traffic. The iPad untethers shoppers from their desktops, enabling easy browsing in a living room, on a bus during their commute to work or at an airport.

4. Online marketplaces grow beyond Amazon. Based on the success of Amazon, retailers will begin to understand that offering their products in marketplaces other than their own website is critical to driving up margins and remaining competitive. Retailers in verticals such as apparel, toys and sporting goods, in particular, will continue to build their own online marketplaces to retain some of the market share they may otherwise lose to Amazon.

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