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Everyone has heard of Bitcoin, but not everyone knows that it is one of many “cryptocurrencies” already in use, nor about the important technology behind this trend—blockchain. What does this mean for businesses and what should marketers know about cryptocurrency to help them prepare their strategies?

Many pundits are predicting that cryptocurrencies, and their underlying blockchain technology, will have a massive impact on marketing, finance, and commerce in the near future.

In the early 1990s, many marketers made a big mistake by downplaying the importance of the internet to their craft and to business as a whole. While it’s easy to look back now and realize how off base they were, are we making the same mistake again? Many are saying that blockchain will have as big an impact on the future of business as the internet has over the past 25 years or so. Now is the time to begin understanding these developments and contemplating how they might affect your business in the future.

It’s hard to believe there’s anything to look forward to in 2018, but as the ecommerce wars heat up, there’s at least plenty to pay attention to.

2017 asserted the dominance of ecommerce: Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion; Google Home and Walmart partnered up to ship items to people via Google Express; internet clothing darling, Everlane, did the unthinkable and opened up its first brick-and-mortar store.

During these pivotal moments, artificial intelligence and augmented reality continued to shake up how people—and the ecommerce industry—use their phones and the experiences they seek. The good news? Most of the trends coming in 2018 are pointing towards making the consumer happier than ever.

Of the €5 billion spent by Irish consumers online last year, €3 billion went to online retailers abroad, a report has found.

The Consumer Market Monitor, published by the Marketing Institute of Ireland and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business school, shows that 60 per cent of online spending in 2017 went out of the State.

Retail sales on the whole, however, were “very strong in 2017” up by 7 per cent for the year with sales of €40 billion, or levels seen prior to the recession. Although, consumers had been relatively cautious in the first half of the year, reflecting a decline in new car sales.

Increased online shopping is contributing to a growing disconnect between rising levels of disposable income and the "unspectacular performance" of a number of retail categories over the Christmas trading period.

In addition, changing consumer spending patterns are contributing to the disconnect, according to Retail Ireland.

"2017 was notable for a rapid increase in online shopping by Irish consumers," said Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland.

Are we facing into a retail apocalypse? The US certainly seems to be; over the past 15 years, close to half a million jobs have been lost in department stores there, while the next five years will see 25 per cent of the malls of America disappear as more and more shoppers embrace the allure of the online world.

Last week the toy store giant Toys R Us hired a team of restructuring lawyers to help it tackle roughly $400 million in debt as it struggles to compete with Amazon. The news prompted ecommerce delivery company ParcelHero to say the toy giant’s problems “reflect the overall collapse of high street toy shops as online toy sales take a monopoly of the market”.