With online retail sales growing at about 25 percent per year, it's no surprise that more and more businesses are focusing in on their audience of online shoppers. But to deliver the best experience to those tech-savvy shoppers, there are quite a few trends to be aware of (and to implement, too).

I reached out on social media (namely Twitter, Facebook, and Slack groups) to find the most important online business trends e-commerce experts are seeing right now in 2017. Here's what they had to say.

1. Voice commerce.

With the rise of voice commerce tools like Alexa and Siri, it's no surprise that large online retailers (like Google, Apple, and Amazon) are focusing in on this trend. As a result, small to midsize businesses will need to think about how they can tap into this shift in preferences, too.

"Voice commerce is up and coming this year," says Tracey Wallace, editor at BigCommerce. "It won't likely hit full speed in 2017, but expect that by this time 2018, voice commerce will be more popular than ever."

2. The necessity for original products.

Some experts, like Andrew Youderian of eCommerceFuel.com, believe we're in the midst of a "hollowing out" of e-commerce companies, where vendors re-selling products will disappear within the next five years or so. As a result, proprietary/original products will become more important than ever.

"The biggest trend I'm seeing is that, in a post-Amazon world, it's absolutely crucial that companies have their own proprietary brand, product, or highly specialized offering that can differentiate them from Amazon," Youderian says. "If they don't, they likely won't last much longer."

3. Mobile commerce.

Today, people use their smartphones for everything--even shopping. That's why online retailers have to start thinking about how to improve mobile commerce experiences.

"Mobile commerce is what merchants should care about right now," says Shanelle Mullin, an e-commerce writer. "2017 is the year we start to see people going beyond the responsive design Band-Aid and actually thinking about mobile user experience."

4. Personalization.

One-size-fits-all messaging is no longer effective on modern customers. Instead, they want relevant, personalized messages from online retailers that feel tailor made.

"Agile e-commerce businesses should strive to get a better understanding of their customers and then deliver personalized experiences to each customer based on their past offsite and onsite interactions," says Kunle Campbell of 2xeCommerce.com.

5. User-generated content.

Testimonials, reviews, and photos are all types of user-generated content that can help drive sales. Featuring these assets in the online sales environment is a must, according to e-commerce writer Shayla Price.

"Retailers must take advantage of user-generated content (UGC) to boost purchase confidence. Whether it's a product review or a brand-sponsored campaign, there's value in giving consumers the opportunity to talk about your products," she says. "Right now, consumers trust their peers. It's up to retailers to build a bridge from UGC to product sales."

Taking note of these trends spotted by experts in 2017, you can start crafting a cutting-edge strategy for the coming months--all the way into 2018. Get planning, and prioritize based on what your customers want and need most.

Published on: Jul 17, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.