The retail industry has experienced a significant transformation in recent years. The advent of e-commerce has completely transformed traditional brick-and-mortar stores, causing considerable disruption. Simultaneously, changing customer preferences have led to a surge in demand for retailers to develop new strategies that enhance customer engagement, reduce costs, and improve operational efficiency.
The ability to embrace these trends effectively is critical for retailers to remain competitive. In this blog, I’ll examine five noteworthy Australian retail industry trends and explore how businesses can adapt to stay ahead of the competition. Whether it’s through implementing new technology, optimising supply chains, or developing new marketing strategies, there are numerous ways for retailers to thrive in this rapidly evolving landscape.
1. New expectations for e-commerce and delivery
E-commerce has rapidly grown in Australia, with more and more consumers preferring to shop online. According to a report by Australia Post, e-commerce sales in the country increased by 57% in 2020, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions on physical shopping.
However, with the rise of e-commerce comes the challenge of providing seamless delivery experiences. One of the biggest trends is same-day and next-day delivery. Now that customers expect the convenience of shopping when they want, they also expect fast delivery services and updates on their orders. Your business must invest in technology that enables real-time tracking and customer communication, such as SMS and email notifications.
Delivery also has a significant impact on customer loyalty. Customers are more likely to return to a retailer if they have had a positive delivery experience. On the other hand, a negative delivery experience can lead to bad reviews and lost sales.
2. Social media has changed marketing and sales
The rise of social media has changed how Australians interact with each other and consume information, and it has become an important tool for businesses to connect with their audiences.
One of the most significant trends in social media is the rise of social commerce. Social commerce refers to the use of social media platforms as a means of buying and selling products or services. The increasing popularity of shopping on mobile devices has made it easy for consumers to browse and purchase products directly from their social media feeds. Many retailers are now using social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to showcase their products and make it easy for customers to purchase them.
3. Personalisation shapes how people shop
Personalisation in retail refers to tailoring the shopping experience to the individual needs and preferences of the customer. It is becoming increasingly important in retail as consumers seek more personalised shopping experiences.
Retailers can leverage advancements in technology to create personalised shopping experiences. For example, some retailers use virtual or augmented reality to allow customers to visualise products in their homes or try on products virtually (like sunglasses). Other retailers leverage personalised recommendations based on previous purchase history or browsing behaviour to suggest products more likely to interest each customer.
Data and artificial intelligence (AI) play a significant role in personalisation. Retailers can collect data on customer behaviour, preferences, and demographics to understand them better and provide more personalised experiences. AI algorithms can analyse this data to generate personalised recommendations, create targeted marketing campaigns, and predict future customer behaviour.
4. Omnichannel experiences drive purchasing behaviour
Even though digital channels have become prevalent, the experience of shopping in physical stores will not go away anytime soon. Successful retailers in Australia are implementing omnichannel strategies by integrating their online and offline channels. They might offer in-store pick-up for online orders, allow customers to return items purchased online to a physical store or provide personalised recommendations based on online and offline purchase history.
Technology plays a crucial role in enabling omnichannel experiences. Retailers must invest in technology to track customer interactions online and in-store and sync inventory across locations. For example, a customer might look online to check the availability of a product in a specific store and opt to click and collect. If your inventory is outdated, you might promise the customer a product you don’t have, inconveniencing the customer and your team when you have to cancel the order.
5. Automation will speed up operations
The Australian retail industry faces economic challenges like increased competition and rising costs. These challenges have pressured retailers to find ways to optimise costs and improve operational efficiency to remain competitive.
Retailers are increasingly turning to technology to automate tasks like inventory management to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance the customer experience. Inventory management can be time-consuming and complex, involving tracking stock levels, monitoring sales, and ordering new products. By automating these processes, retailers can save time and resources, reduce the risk of errors, and improve inventory accuracy.
Supply chain management is another area where retailers can improve operational efficiency. By optimising their supply chain, retailers can reduce costs, improve delivery times, and increase customer satisfaction.
As the Australian retail industry evolves, retailers must keep up with the latest trends to remain competitive. E-commerce, social media, personalisation, omnichannel experiences, and automation are a few key trends shaping the future of shopping.
To thrive in this competitive landscape, retailers must provide seamless shopping experiences across online and offline channels, leverage technology to improve operational efficiency and use social media to their advantage.
Why partner with MakeSense to build the future of your retail business?
If you’re a retail business leader looking for ways to boost productivity, save costs, and optimise processes, our integration and automation services can help. From inventory management to point-of-sale systems, we have the expertise to take your retail operations to the next level.
If you want to know more about our services and what we can do for you, please visit our page on Integration and Automation for Retail.