The retail industry in Australia has had an interesting journey over the last few years.
While the stop-start nature of lockdown kept many shops shuttered for extended periods between 2020 and 2021, the other side of the coin was e-commerce, which became the main way for many to shop during stay-at-home orders.
But as vaccination rates reach impressive highs and lockdowns lift across the country just in time for Christmas, retailers will need to balance the customer expectations established during the pandemic, with a shift back to in-store shopping.
This is the second in our series of blogs exploring what’s on the horizon in 2022.
Let’s read some tea leaves.
In 2021, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are predicted to hit $5.4 billion across physical and online shopping in Australia, with November now considered the biggest shopping month of the year.
Consumers are eager to buy for several reasons. Firstly, with travel having been off the cards for most of the year, some people have more cash to splash, even with borders slowly reopening. Secondly, supply chain issues are likely to get people shopping for Christmas gifts early to avoid disappointment.
Brands need to make sure that they’re prepared for these big events – both in-store and online. If you’re not involved, you’re going to be giving sales to the competition. These events can deliver big sales boosts if your products are available and you’re communicating with customers to build hype and drive awareness of promotions through effective marketing strategies. Planning ahead is planning for success.
With people tasting freedom once states and territories hit the magic double vaccination threshold, there’s sure to be a big rush on in-store purchasing throughout the summer months. This is especially true for retailers selling goods that people want to test or try before buying, like furniture and TVs, compared to things that are easily returned, such as clothes.
For brands who have transitioned to a primarily online model of operating, that means there’s some reversion to be done to get back on an even keel.
It’s important to offer the same level of service and products both online and in-store. Customers will choose whatever channel is most convenient to them, and you don’t want to miss potential sales by only being present in one place at the expense of the other.
It might seem as if corporate social responsibility and sustainability have become just buzzwords.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth, and Australian consumers aren’t afraid to let brands know if they aren’t acting in a responsible manner. According to The Conscious Consumer Report 2021, 62 per cent of Australian’s have re-evaluated their priorities in lockdown, and want to engage with companies that are doing good in the world.
According to report author, Hailey Cavill-Jaspers, customers have “realised they have immense power to catalyse social reform by …purchasing products that do good and boycotting those that do harm; and through asserting their ‘voice’ on social media.”
The key here is in not just talking the talk but walking the walk. We all have a responsibility to future generations, and to equality and social responsibility. Aligning yourself on ethical principles, and acting accordingly, will show consumers you care about them and their beliefs. Examples include Patagonia, long known for their championing of environmentalism and the use of recycled materials in their clothing, and Dell Technologies’ commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting the proliferation of ocean-bound plastics.
While retail isn’t undergoing cataclysmic upheaval, there’s no doubt that as we march into 2022 it’s continuing to evolve. To stay on top, you need to evolve along with it.