With technology on the rise, shopping trends are steadily evolving with massive changes being predicted in 2017. Here's a handful of popular forecasts for the future of retail.

1. Brands will get up close and personal with customers

Customers will no longer be treated as faceless units of revenue generation. Stores will decrease in size, making the shopping experience cozy and intimate. Kind of like browsing the products on a friend's living room shelf. In-store staff will be encouraged to recognize customers by their first name and interact with them socially. The less obviously promotional a store seems, the more its chances of winning a customer's heart are. This branches out of just in-store experiences and makes its way into a customer's inbox too. Brands that use deep learning will be able to provide its clients with a specially tailored personal experience, which is good news for 2017 brands.

2. Wallet-free payment solutions will rise to fame

The future of payless payment is here. A supermarket in Seattle recently made headlines for its brilliant payment system. Customers can saunter into the store, grabbing whatever they like off the shelves, and simply walk out. No beepers will start wailing. No security guards will chase after you. Here's how it works – The Amazon Go store requires customers to swipe their phones on a mechanical gate upon entry. The store records the products placed in the customer's e-cart and accumulates the cost onto a virtual bill. The customers then head out of the store, and Amazon remotely charges their account and emails them a receipt. Welcome to the future! Brands that adopt hassle-free payment methods can expect to see a boom in business this year.

3. Stores will stimulate your creative side

Now that virtual reality and augmented reality are on the rise, stores need to use these resources to enhance their customers' experience. It's already happening with major brands like Kate Spade and Marks and Spencer. In-store experiences don't have to solely rely on flashy technology for brands with a tight budget. Kylie Jenner's cosmetic store has designed its boutique to give customers a glimpse into her world. Her boutiques feature a rack of her clothes that customers can sort through and a chic bed that they can snap selfies on. Stores that shy away from the traditional shelf-and-aisle combo will not only be noticed but raved about in 2017.

4. Brands with a soul will win its customer's heart

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is instrumental to planning brand strategies. CSR isn't exclusively restricted to big brands, and applies to budding brands too. Customers will gravitate towards brands with a soul, one that works tirelessly to make a positive impact in society. These actions can range from donating a fraction of its proceeds to charity to having a recycling unit stationed in its store. The modern citizen is both environmentally and socially concerned and will support brands that invest its energy into making the world a better place for everyone.

5. Online shopping will conquer traditional trips to the store

Three years ago, Forrester Research predicted that online sales would reach 248.7 billion dollars in the US alone. The world is currently a goldmine for online shoppers, with big brands launching e-store alternatives to their physical stores. Online shopping experiences have evolved from being a futuristic novelty to a practical solution for time-pressed shoppers. You can expect anything from a pair of leather shoes to a carton of soy milk delivered to your doorstep with the single click of a button. In order to compete with the convenience of online stores, physical stores will have to up their game to attract customers using engaging in-store experiences.

6. Old school advertising is out and social media is in

According to a survey conducted by Social Media Examiner, 92% of all marketers claimed that investing in social media brought forth impressive results in terms of business exposure. Social media is booming and its prevalence has even introduced new roles in the advertising and marketing industry. Brands that engage with their audience via social media in an intimate way can expect brilliant results. Making customers feel involved with the brand and this will result in them spreading the word to their immediate social circle. The modern shopper doesn't pay attention to lazy advertising campaigns, and prefers personalized social media material instead