While Australia and the local retail industry has been comparatively successful flattening the curve and venturing into post-pandemic normality — which culminated with the recent announcement that the nominal recession is over — there will be new trends the industry must capitalise on to continue its remarkable recovery. For retailers in 2021, leveraging an integrated, omnichannel approach and the “love local” sentiment that so many Australians hold close to their heart, will be imperative.
Australia loves local
Mass internet access, seamless supply chains and the proliferation of e-commerce over the last decade had given Aussie shoppers access to an endless supply of products from across the globe. However, with global supply chains disrupted and backlogged, and Australia unequivocal in its support for local businesses, 2021 will see a previously rapid retail globalisation slow, at least temporarily, and local reign supreme. So, if you’re a retailer, think closer to home in 2021.
Be proud of where you come from, what you do and why, and you might find Australians’ connection to your business intensify. Promote your story, your products and the quality of your materials, and why they make meaningful gifts. And don’t forget to share glowing reviews and your business strategy; if people feel more invested personally, they’ll be more inclined to support the journey. Retail is built upon community, so connect with yours; tell them what you’re excited about this year and how they can visit your store to check out your cool products and everything you’re working on. While e-commerce has been growing gradually over the last 10 years, it will never replace the importance of delightful interaction between retailer and shopper. If playing the local card is a key competitive advantage in 2021, so too is the strategy that helps you do so.
Streamlined over siloed
Digital transformation was a lifeline for many Aussie retailers in 2020, but to truly benefit from technology long-term, the importance of integrations can’t be overlooked. Sure, robot shopping assistants and delivery drones might sound cool, but they detract from what is important: delighted customers and beautiful products. Instead, the most genuinely beneficial technology is that which boosts efficiency and creates savvier behind-the-scenes operations so you can spend more time creating beautiful products and experiences for your customers.
There is a plethora of retail software and hardware, but relying on too many “siloed” technologies is neither time- nor cost-effective. Through siloed software, retailers have a greater deal to master but, perhaps more importantly, aren’t able to streamline the flow of information across their business. Today, seeking to understand shoppers is imperative. An integrated tech stack that seamlessly aligns your entire retail operation — from inventory and online orders to customer marketing and financial reports — helps establish a comprehensive, real-time understanding of your business, your customers and how they interact. So, don’t get sidetracked thinking you need the latest in shiny, consumer-facing tech when, in reality, streamlined, integrated tech — and the competitive advantage it provides — is gold dust.
With an integrated technology stack powering a business, you can implement the omnichannel strategies that today define savvy, smart and sustainable retailers. Consumer habits are fluctuating faster than at any time in recent memory, but through an integrated omnichannel strategy, you can provide tailored, sophisticated customer experiences in-store, online and combined. Streamline and enhance the shopping experience by introducing click and collect, listing in-store inventory online, implementing loyalty schemes, and using personalised marketing to promote products, services, policies and everything else shoppers need to know.
Omnichannel allows you to integrate new trends, too, like wishlists and “endless aisles”. Wishlists, growing in appeal, is a collection of desired products “saved” by a customer to their user account, helping to reduce shopping cart abandonment by catering to shoppers who aren’t ready to make a purchase immediately, but on a subsequent visit.
Meanwhile, endless aisles allow customers to order items in-store that you might only stock online, directly from point of sale (POS). Research from 2018 found that retailers globally had lost out on nearly $1 trillion in sales exclusively as a result of out-of-stock situations. Endless aisle and wishlists — perfect examples of omnichannel selling — provided an enhanced, convenient experience but wouldn’t be possible without an integrated tech stack that links an entire retail operation.
So in 2021, retailers needn’t convince themselves of the need to take risks or blaze a trail. By not losing sight of the two pillars of successful retail — beautiful products and delightful experiences — playing on Aussies’ love of local, and giving your operation the platform it deserves with integrated, omnichannel selling, don’t be surprised to see your business soar in the retail spring.
Vaughan Fergusson, founder, Vend