In 2016, e-commerce and retail saw the rise of numerous tools and industry segments that either helped push online shopping to its full potential, or fell flat with consumers. One of the most anticipated tools — buy buttons — failed to catch on with shoppers and may well be wiped out in the new year. But in their looming absence are emerging areas for online merchants to capture new audiences and gain market share.

Below are our top predictions for the e-commerce industry in 2017. These predictions are based on our ongoing analysis of the e-commerce market and broader retail industry, as well as conversations with industry executives.

Online grocery shopping will become commonplace in US households. Numerous retailers made significant strides to expand their online grocery programs in 2016, from adding new cities to employing more flexible fulfillment options. And while just 2% of all grocery purchases took place online in 2016, according to BI Intelligence estimates, grocery seems increasingly on the verge of shifting online. Amazon's push into the brick-and-mortar space, as well as expansions from Walmart, Instacart, and FreshDirect, are providing consumers with increasingly more attractive options for online grocery. And as retailers present shoppers with greater options that meet their needs, like click and collect or same-day delivery, online grocery will likely resonate with more customers.

US consumers began trialing online grocery in 2016 — overall, 31% of US shoppers had purchased grocery products online "in the past six months" as of late June, according to a survey from The Harris Poll. Additionally, 10% of those who bought grocery items online said the habit replaced some or all of their regular grocery shopping trips to brick-and-mortar stores. (No data was provided for comparison with last year.) These early adopters will likely grow the online grocery industry further in 2017 and help it steal significant market share in the new year.

Buy buttons will die out. Retailers continue to see extremely limited returns from the social media tool, according to a report from Campaigner. Seventy-two percent of global retailers report seeing no sales from their buy buttons in 2016, which has led to a significant drop in usage among merchants. In fact, 25% are already using them less now than they were a year ago, and an additional [...]