Around half of Australian retailers adopting a unified commerce or omnichannel approach saw total number of transactions remain consistent during COVID-19 with sales from online channels offsetting lost revenue from physical stores, according to new data from global payments platform, Adyen.

The data also found that shoppers who only purchased from a retailer in-store pre-COVID-19 spent an average of 40% more when they shifted online to make purchases during the pandemic.

Independent economic analysis commissioned by Adyen and conducted by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) found that the proportion of Australian retail spending from online channels stood at 9.7% in July, after averaging 6.6% in the six months prior to COVID-19.

On a global scale, Australia is placed as the tenth most suited economy for unified commerce readiness ahead of the US and Hong Kong but trailing behind Singapore, the UK, Germany and several Nordic countries, according to the United Nations UNCTAD index.

Cebr found that a five-point increase on the UNCTAD index was associated with 2.6% better retail sector performance during the pandemic. Across a subset of 14 countries, this equates to more than AU$515.2 billion improvement in turnover with AU$7.3 billion coming from Australia alone.

And physical retail isn’t dead with nearly three quarters (72%) of Australians suggesting that they will shop in store post-pandemic, according to consumer research by Opinium as part of Adyen’s study.

Adyen chief commercial officer, Roelant Prins said, “Consumers don’t want to be boxed in; they want to shop in a way that works for them – and this might change depending on where they are, how they feel or many other factors. The retailers prepared to cater to today’s consumers were the ones that won out through the first wave of the pandemic. They were the ones agile enough to cope with the constantly changing environment and had the infrastructure in place to continue meeting consumer demands throughout this period.

“While something as seismic as the coronavirus pandemic may only occur once in a lifetime, the retail sector has been consistently shaken by digitalisation and changing consumer habits. If it’s to survive further shifts, which will inevitably come, retailers need to make sure they’re ready – and adopting a holistic approach to unified commerce will be key to this.”

Adyen country manager for Australia and New Zealand, Michael van Aalten added: “COVID-19 has shaken Australia’s retail sector to its core, with consumers prioritising shopping closer to home, with those who provide a better experience, or that can be trusted to stock certain goods. Many retailers have impressed Aussies by adapting their operations and offering shoppers more flexibility across this period. Consumers want to see this agility continue and are looking for seamlessness between online and offline stores. Unified commerce will help retailers navigate this changing environment and excel in this next normal.”