For Australian retailers, long periods of 2020 were about adapting and survival at all costs. Both as a collective industry and as individual retailers, they responded, recovered and grew – playing a crucial role in the nation’s faster-than-expected economic rebound.
Evidenced by the recent spike in New South Wales, the situation remains volatile, but the new year has arrived with genuine optimism that the coming months will be more fruitful and enjoyable years for retailers and shoppers alike. For retailers to delight their customers and capitalise on the comparative normality in Australia compared to other global markets, the following trends will be crucial.
Longer-term pandemic behaviours
Stimulated by an industry pivot, changing consumer demands and evolving trading restrictions, trends like click and collect – now offered by almost half of Australian retailers – contactless and mobile payments boomed in 2020. They’re trends that are here to stay with over half (56%) of shoppers intending to continue these habits longer-term. To appeal to this new breed of consumer, ensure you’re deploying an omnichannel strategy that goes beyond simple eCommerce, and includes click and collect, online marketing. Handling cash is a concern for many, so it’s important to consider accepting various forms of payments, including Apple Pay and Android Pay, and buy now, pay later solutions.
Australia shops local
The shop local movement is not a new phenomenon, but boomed last year in response to first the bushfires and then the pandemic. As Australia continues its economic recovery in 2021, it’ll be a defining theme this year too. So, promote yourself locally; invest in campaigns, champion ‘shop local’ or partner with non-competing businesses to spread the word. Don’t be shy about telling your story – it’s one of the easiest ways to help customers feel more personally connected to your brand. With 90% of global shoppers searching online before visiting a store, don’t forget about your digital approach either. To make your business more visible and appealing, populate a Google My Business profile with contact details and opening hours and bring it to life with photos of your store and customer reviews.
Customer acquisition can be expensive, so incentivising loyalty in a market in which shoppers are spoilt for choice is vital. To make it harder for shoppers to ignore your business and it’s beautiful products, develop a deeper understanding of them. Where are they from? What channels do they frequent? How and when do they shop? When you understand them, it’s easier to understand how to appeal to them. So if you’re searching for loyalty, use your insights to create the targeted strategies and personalised experiences that cater to every customer, however, whenever and wherever they shop.
Many shoppers today prefer bespoke, personal products over mass-produced items. This makes them more intentional in how they shop. Indeed, They’re planning their store visits further in advance and say their purchases are planned, not spontaneous. That means your approach must be planned and not spontaneous. It’s crucial, therefore, to be active at the ‘research phase’ of their journey. Understand how, when, where and why they shop, and develop a strong omnichannel strategy to cater to them. For example, a solution like Pointy from Google lists your in-store products online so you’re prominent at that research phase. Pointy integrates with POS systems, like Vend, and helps cater to any shopper, however they shop.
When competition is high, it’s important to stand up and stand out. There are many ways of keeping existing shoppers engaged and acquiring new ones, one of the best of which is compelling content. Use your customer insights – their pain points, aspirations, interests and the platforms they frequent – as your platform. And don’t forget about things that have inspired you; being careful not to plagiarise, think about businesses that have effectively grabbed your attention and how you can incorporate that inspiration within the boundaries of your own brand. The platform is just as important as the message itself, so think carefully about where you’ll house your content. Today, video and social media are particularly effective avenues – especially for younger generations. Getting creative with your content and being strategic with where you promote should give your business the boost it deserves.
Australia, and its inspiring retail industry, has a genuine opportunity to establish best practice and push the boundaries of exceptional retail. In its endeavours to do so, loyalty, locality and creativity will be essential.
Gordana Redzovski is vice president for Asia Pacific at Vend.