Commerce is changing rapidly, and the pace is unlikely to slow down in 2016. Expect these trends, detailed in Trend Hunter's 2016 Trend Report, to take flight this year.
1. Automated creation Funding an idea has been made exponentially easier with crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, but a new cohort of businesses being created are looking to draw upon vast, active communities in various industries to help produce a product. For example, if you're keen on launching an app or website, FiftyThree Paper's Mix app is where you should head first. A place where designers and artists come together, Mix serves as an endless resource for inspiration, offering a wide range of tutorials to advance your skills and templates to get your digital product off the ground.
2. Curated dining Ready-made is still not a sexy term, but that doesn't mean consumers aren't looking for shortcuts. Services like Chef's Plate offer people the chance to cook gourmet meals without all of the fuss. The service ships ingredients and instructions so that anyone can prepare a healthy homemade meal hand-selected by executive chef Jason Rosso of Milestones Canada.
3. Resource sharing and community building Consumers care about the global community and want to know that the brands they purchase from do, too. Social Feed is satisfying the push for responsible business by allowing brands to buy media that make a real impact on people's lives in South Africa. Brands sign up for Social Feed and post advertisements or content they'd like shared. Consumers can pick which ads or pieces of content they'd like to post to their social networks, and for each share they complete, a meal goes to a child in need. The more exposure for the brand, the more meals distributed – it's a feel-good situation all around. In 2016, we'll be seeing more businesses align with environmental, social and even political causes to appeal to a mounting pressure for brands to authentically stand for something greater than the products they sell.
4. Streamlined feedback As the pace of consumer needs quickens, brands have to rely on new technologies to get feedback and insight about where they are both over and underperforming and what they can push on. Co-Operative Food's smart shopping carts are complete with tablets that prompt shoppers to answer various questions ranging from their thoughts on store layout to sustainability. Shaftsbury, on the other hand, is using iBeacon technology to provide retailers with data such as the number of people who pass by their shop versus the number who go in to check it out.
5. Recognition purchasing Brick and mortar and e-commerce have been fiercely competing over the past handful of years, but the line between the two has become increasingly blurred. One Canadian business is really trying to take the shopping experience to the next level. Well.ca created a completely virtual store at Toronto's Union Station, where passersby could scan the QR code of any product pictured on the wall to purchase. Slyce, another Canadian-based company, also provides consumers with a convenient way to purchase. Just take a picture of a product in a store, and its visual product search technology will allow you to immediately purchase that item from your smartphone.
Shelby Walsh is the president of Trend Hunter, a website tracking industry trends.