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Retail sales in 2016 were projected to reach $22 trillion globally, buoyed by events such as Alibaba's $18 billion Singles Day and the 11 US e-commerce days with over $1 billion in sales beginning on Thanksgiving in 2016.

However, the massive increases in sales mean that the market is even more crowded. Customers can afford to be selective about price and user experience, because global competition is now the norm and there is always a competitor willing to offer a comparable experience.

In today's landscape, retailers and brands must make the following four key trends a priority to stay competitive.

1. Product content will become mission-critical for retailers

Having a great product is a cornerstone of a successful retail company, but if that great product isn't effectively merchandised across a variety of platforms, its success is severely limited.

Enter content. Fully 88% of consumers say detailed product content is a key purchase driver. What does that content look like?

Good product content should go beyond simply showing an image and sourcing information; it should help customers by adding value, by offering educational content and forging a connection with a brand. Once a seller has provided high-quality product content, that information needs to be consistent across every platform that a seller uses to sell its products.

The likes of Amazon are at the forefront of the product information "war," and it has implemented strict guidelines aimed at reducing the amount of counterfeit sellers and inaccurate product content on its platform.

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image of Dan Wilkinson

Dan Wilkinson is chief commercial officer of 1WorldSync, a global multi-enterprise product information network.

LinkedIn: Dan Wilkinson