By Adam Forrest, Senior Director, Americas Marketing

It’s been an incredibly fast year, full of innovation and change in the retail industry. We’ve seen the start of a transition to digital in the physical store, a rise in the importance of tap devices, serious expansion into China and major investments in getting merchandise to consumers faster.

As the Holderness Family says in their latest 2014 Christmas Card video, “it’s the end of the year and we love it.”

So here’s my Top 5 recap for 2014.

1. 4 Ways Same-day Delivery Will Transform Retailers

Summary: Same-day delivery has been an area of interest for many online retailers as they look to differentiate their offerings from competitors. Target, Google and Amazon are just some of the organizations rolling out same-day delivery options in major cities throughout the US. If successful, this capability has the potential to completely transform retail as the variety of products retailers can sell to consumers will significantly expand, both on and offline (from June 20, 2014 Top 5).

My thoughts: If you follow the Top 5, you know how important I believe same-day fulfillment to be for retailers, so you’re probably not surprised to see this topic make my list. This entry from June is interesting because it seemed to kick off a series of articles addressing same-day fulfillment, an emerging trend with a big market share to be won if you can figure it out. My advice? Look to your physical stores to help with fulfillment, and find a commerce platform that includes distributed order management capabilities.

2. Reinventing The Department Store

Summary: The department store – both in the US and abroad – has been impacted by a number of retail trends over the last few years, causing sales to decline. But there may be hope for department stores of the future due to new strategies from luxury players, and it all revolves around “innovating to thrive” (from October 14, 2014 Top 5).

My thoughts: This article represents more than just the reinvention of the department store – it’s really an indication of how people shop. Consumers today are brand fanatics, evidenced by the fact that in most malls, the majority of stores you’ll find now are all brands. But there’s more to it than that; the article also highlights why innovation is necessary to succeed and why bringing digital into the store can provide a more powerful experience for consumers. The transformation of the store will be a journey, and it has just begun.

3. Apple bids to transform payments and mobile commerce

Summary: The iPhone 6 brings with it a slew of new features and functionalities, including the mobile wallet, a faster processor and an even bigger screen. But perhaps the most exciting part of the announcement is that the iPhone 6 enables mobile payment capabilities with Apple Pay, along with a Touch ID API, allowing developers to incorporate biometrics-secured, one-touch log-in and checkout in apps. What does this mean? Retailers can create apps that enable an iPhone 6 user to just put their finger on the home button on the device to complete the purchase (from September 16, 2014 Top 5).

My thoughts: A revolution has begun – Google Wallet and a host of other early adopters may have already been present, but Apple Pay is finally starting to make its mark on the mobile payment market, and it seems like they’re doing everything right. From the joint marketing money they are spending with top banks to making it available through various apps, I believe the adoption for Apple Pay will be much faster than any other mobile wallet.

4. Chinese Ecommerce Market Exploding But Logistics Tricky

Summary: Though ecommerce continues to grow in China, getting products to customers is proving to be a bit of a challenge. Not only are there shipping restrictions, but the actual ‘last mile’ of getting the product to the customer varies dramatically. In tier-one cities, like Beijing and Guangzhou, products could arrive in a matter of hours through a complicated system of bicycle delivery (from July 29, 2014 Top 5).

My thoughts: China may have one of the biggest untapped ecommerce markets, but that doesn’t mean setting up shop there will be a cash windfall from the start. First, you have to understand the technology requirements to do business. Then you need to find a way to connect to consumers directly, something that can be a challenge considering the overall culture prefers to shop through marketplaces – a different scene all together considering consumers are brand fanatics.  And finally, you need to ensure you can get the products to consumers through various delivery and payment options. The opportunity in China is huge, but to truly reap the benefits of the market, you need to be prepared – selecting the right vendors that can help you get there is a critical first move.

5. Twitter to roll out its Buy button to general public in early 2015

Summary: Twitter is planning to officially launch the Buy button to all organizations in early 2015. Though Twitter originally stated that various organizations would slowly be added to the testing phase, no other companies have been announced to date (from October 28, 2014 Top 5).

My thoughts: Summer 2014 was the summer of social shopping, or at least the summer of big social media companies announcing their capabilities for shopping. As I have mentioned a number of times, social hangouts, like Facebook and Twitter, are the best places to have conversations with friends, not engage in transactional purchases. However, I think visual-focused social channels, like Pinterest or Houzz, could have a better opportunity to engage shoppers because the conversations here are more natural.