The opportunity to reimagine retail, as consumers shop differently

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The opportunity to reimagine retail, as consumers shop differently
It is time for Australians to reimagine retail.
As states across the country gear up to prepare for life post-lockdown, it is critical for businesses in commerce to reimagine the possibilities of retail in order to bounce back from disruptions the industry experienced over the past months.

As states across the country gear up to prepare for life post-lockdown, it is critical for businesses in commerce to reimagine the possibilities of retail in order to bounce back from disruptions the industry experienced over the past months.

Particularly as end-of-year approaches, it is to be expected that consumers will ramp up their shopping for what’s forecasted to be the biggest quarter of online shopping on record and bring with them new shopping habits and behaviours. Now is the time for retailers to adopt new platforms and optimise on consumers’ growing needs.

In fact, Shopify’s latest ‘This is a store’ survey among consumers in Australia, shows that almost half (47%) of shoppers claim to primarily discover brands through online search and websites, and one in 10 via social media. People are shopping differently, and retailers must continually innovate to sell to anyone, anywhere in order to succeed in this evolving retail space.

There is no doubt that digital-first experiences are a crucial component to commerce, bringing enormous opportunities for merchants to optimise with no limits to the way they deliver shopping experiences.

What is a ‘store’

It is time for Australians to reimagine retail, as there has been major shifts in the ways brands and consumers interact - be it circumstantial due to lockdown restrictions or simply changes in preferences. Regardless of the reasoning, the increased participation in online shopping is clear, as states across the country report record spikes over the past months and an overwhelming (83%) of shoppers believe all brands should sell online or have an online store. 

Despite the uptake of online platforms to make shopping decisions, Australians still have a way to go before realising the full possibilities of retail as our research reveals shopping habits contradict perceptions of what a ‘store’ can be. Over three in four (77%) think that shopping entails going into a physical store, and those aged over 55 are almost three times more likely than those aged 18-24 to think this.

As shopping habits evolve, so will the perception of retail shift over time. A store can be Instragram as much as it can be an online website or a physical space. Brands need to anticipate that people will broaden their view of what a ‘store’ is over time as shopping behaviours continue to evolve.

Emulating the physical store experience on digital platforms

Retailers need to recognise that while people are no doubt utilising the technology and digital channels to do their shopping, the physical shopping experience is not going anywhere. For this reason, brands wanting to optimise on their commerce must find ways to emulate a physical store experience online. Our survey revealed that the three top deterrents from shopping with a brand online are due to the fear of the unknown/uncertainty around the product in real life, as well as bad online reviews, pricing differences and shipping costs.

There still exists a sense of compromise for consumers shopping online, on the benefits of the experience when shopping in-person. It is important for retailers to support customers in their journeys by reimagining retail with omnichannel approaches that enable a high level of certainty and convenience for customers no matter where or how they choose to shop. 

For retailers selling to international customers who have no option but to shop with them online, leveraging cross-border technologies such as Shopify Markets can allow customers to engage with global brands in their local context and alleviate any woes they may have around accessibility. That means visiting a local domain, browsing in a local language and purchasing in a local currency.

In a digital first-world, positive customer journeys should not be limited to brick and mortar stores as there are ways brands can emulate a physical store experience with the right tools. It is about making commerce better for everyone, everywhere and in every way.

Shaun Broughton, APAC Managing Director, Shopify.

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