mobile shopperAs users engage in more online product research, Forrester Research predicts that retailers with an eCommerce presence can expect to reap big gains in their retail locations. According to their new report, Forrester anticipates that cross-channel retail sales in the U.S. are on track to reach $1.4 trillion this year, and predicts they will rise to $1.8 trillion by 2018. These figures include transactions that are influenced by the Internet in some way but are completed in stores.

What is driving this immense growth? The increasing ubiquity of smartphone and retailer investments in web enablement for their stores. According to Forrest Vice President and Principal Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru ,“As more and more shoppers are likely to visit an eCommerce site prior to visiting a store or to have a smartphone in hand while in a physical store, retailers need to consider the implications for their business.”

Mulpuru expects that this cross-channel influence will affect every retail category, but some sectors will be more affected than others: Forrester expects grocery, apparel and accessories, home improvement, and consumer electronics to generate $1.1 trillion of the $1.8 trillion in cross-channel sales.

Brands hoping to take advantage of these cross platform sales must launch an omnichannel effort with real-time marketing capabilities. Mulpuru states that retailers can benefit by, “having a real-time, accurate portrait of inventory across channels with the ability to enable shoppers to buy in any channel and when it’s most convenient. Generally, that means investments in endless-aisle efforts, ship-from-store initiatives, and in-store pickup options.”