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2018 is shaping up to be a big year for the world of ecommerce.

This year, Black Friday broke online records, bringing in $3.34 billion. At the same time, Cyber Monday was the largest online sales day in history, with $6.59 billion in sales according to Adobe.

Those numbers are likely to be even bigger next year, and they clearly show the huge opportunity in the market for B2C brands.

But how do you stay ahead of that growth curve?

Based on what I’ve seen in the market, B2C marketers should keep an eye on a number of trends and shifts in ecommerce, including:

  • The importance of brand loyalty
  • Repeat customers driving growth
  • The importance of accurate customer data

More and more B2C marketers are realizing that a combination of personalization, customer loyalty and technology will drive success in the new year.

Here are my top four predictions to help you succeed as a marketer in 2018.

1. Brand loyalty will drive success

People are loyal to the brands they trust.

The most highly valued brands are the ones that control the narrative and effectively communicate their message. Brands create trust by delivering a holistic and unified customer experience.

I always think about Patagonia and The North Face.

They were very similar, high-end manufacturers 20 years ago. But Patagonia is known for its messaging around sustainability, while The North Face brand more so channels ruggedness and adventure.

Patagonia customers trust that the brand will follow through on their promise of environmentally-friendly business practices. And ecommerce marketers should take a lesson from successful brands like them.

If you’re afraid of your brand being commoditized through Amazon, remember that you have control of the message.

Strong messaging is the best way to build brand loyalty and a solid reputation. Create a consistent message and stick to it.

2. Repeat purchase rate will matter most

Repeat purchase rate will become the most important KPI for B2C marketers.

On average, 40 percent of a company’s revenue comes from just 8 percent of the customer base. In other words, a small group of loyal customers can drive nearly half of your overall revenue.

Increasing repeat purchase rate is the simplest way for a B2C company to boost revenue.

3. More marketers will start to actually use machine learning

When people talk about artificial intelligence, they’re often really talking about machine learning.

This technology is a powerful tool for B2C marketers and will start to be more prevalent in 2018, specifically around optimization.

Machine learning will start to take over some of our important-but-mundane tasks, like determining the best time of day to send emails or the optimal frequency of messages.

In the future, machine learning is also going to handle things like content or channel optimization.

Marketers don’t want a black box solution — Those products will continue to be fringe players.

Marketers believe their knowledge of the customer is their competitive advantage, and even with machine learning, marketers will still need to apply their knowledge.

4. Marketers will become data scientists

B2C marketers need to constantly analyze customer data to uncover the key consumer insights that lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat purchase rates.

Because of this, every marketer needs to up their data skills.

The challenge is that today’s marketers must collect data across multiple systems — not just across multiple devices.

If you’re talking about hundreds of thousands or millions of customers, the only way to do this is to automate the unification of data from multiple systems.

Marketers have to consolidate systems around a single customer record that offers a unified view of their customers data, like a B2C CRM. Then, they’ll be able to do their jobs more effectively.

As a B2C marketer, I hope these insights will help you in 2018 as you adapt to the challenges of a quickly shifting market.

Don’t get left behind — Start your year at the head of the pack.