The semi-annual HOP summit of the Quebec retail council – the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail – brings together the biggest players in business in Quebec, as well as the amazing startups that are fuelling innovation in retail, especially e-commerce, here and abroad.

A few of the panelists and speakers: David Bensadoun of Aldo, Peter Simons of La Maison Simons, Chantal Levesque of Shan, PKP of Quebecor, Mahée Paiement, plus reps from companies like Lightspeed, Cossette and Ricardo Media.

But for a crash course in the future of retail, Charles Desjardins of Absolunet stood out. He offered 10 e-comm trends of 2018 in 45 jam-packed minutes. Here they are:

  1. The renaissance of bricks and mortar. Frank + Oak and Structube  were examples of retailers using stores to support their online business. Interesting stat: 50 per cent of millennials prefer to shop in store at some point. And Kanuk, which has a cold room refrigerated to minus 25C in which to experience your potential new parka.
  2. B2B is moving to B2C, with distributors bypassing the retailer and going directly to the consumer.
  3. Virtual reality, from Ikea, Houzz and Amazon, which lets you place furniture in your living room virtually.
  4. Retailers can now reliably measure the power of online research, and data can also tell them which ads worked. One stat cited by Desjardins: 82 per cent of consumers research a business; with 24 hours, 18 per cent of those make a purchase.
  5. Mobile checkout is becoming less painful – and will reach 70 per cent of e-comm traffic by the end of this year.
  6. Artificial intelligence can use a consumer’s data to personalize her online shopping experience. It’s like a familiar salesperson. Nextflix is a perfect example, catering movie picks to viewers based on past behaviour.
  7. Amazon is more and more of a marketing force. Currently, 55 per cent of American start their buying research on Amazon, meaning if you’re not on Amazon, you’re missing out. Wayfair is also becoming a major marketplace.
  8. Voice command technology is changing e-comm so that product info will have to be compatible with voice searching. Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa are already shaking it up.
  9. Photo shopping is here. You upload an image of something you like – say, Kim Kardashian’s outfit – and your search or app will find you the look.
  10. On that note, your web browser’s dominance is waning. The browser will be one channel among many – apps, voice interaction, for example – as a way to purchase stuff.

For the full trend report from Absolunet, click here