With retailers and consumers firmly nestled into the new year, businesses should now begin to assess how they will keep up with ever-changing macroeconomic factors, digital transformation and evolving consumer attitudes.
The events of the past few years have demonstrated that retailers should remain alert – not alarmed – and be ready and willing to swiftly pivot with external forces.
Despite global economic pressures, Australian economists remain cautiously optimistic that recent lower unemployment rates and wage increases make the country less vulnerable than many others. This also follows healthy spending over the holiday period, and shoppers wholeheartedly embracing the Black Friday-Cyber Monday shopping phenomenon. However, the ebbs and flows of consumer habits mean that a spending slowdown is not off the cards.
For this reason, optimism should be coupled with forward-thinking: and it is crucial for retailers to consider how they will be proactive in elevating the customer experience, engaging with the latest technology and giving their brick-and-mortar environments the attention they deserve.
Here are some crucial considerations for retailers as the year continues to unfold:
Combat the slowdown in online traffic with small tweaks, deliver on the ‘last mile’
Savvy consumers are privy to the notion that retailers are vying for their attention in a saturated market. With online traffic slowing for some smaller businesses, investing in consumer convenience will be essential in catering to same-day and next-day demand which continues to grow.
Streamlining the tech stack through a layered point-of-sale solution means that adjusting an ecommerce platform is simplified. Small tweaks can make the difference in converting a browser to a shopper. Consumers prefer to shop on mobile-responsive websites that can keep up with their on-the-go lifestyles and offer a seamless user experience that takes out any guess-work.
It is not a question of whether consumers are excited to venture into a post-lockdown world, but rather: can their wallets keep up, and what’s worth their money? Businesses should invest in making-over their brick and mortar settings for enthusiastic, ‘support local-loving’ Aussies, whilst simultaneously focusing on appealing to nationwide and global audiences on their website.
E-commerce solutions that support seamless dispatch and delivery functionality – supported by order dispatch reports – will serve customers well in an environment where they prefer their shopping lists to actualise in real time.
Allow data to drive omnichannel retail experiences in a noisy market
Consumers have a ‘revolving door’ mindset when it comes to their spending habits. Therefore, the key to grabbing – then maintaining – their attention is becoming everywhere they are: omnichannel. With TikTok recently overtaking Facebook as the world’s most valuable social media platform, we know that shoppers respond favourably to short bursts of multimedia content.
The old adage of quality over quantity rings true when it comes to retailers’ online presence . Churning out content, products or services that don’t resonate or drive leads will be an inefficient use of resources for retailers in 2023. In-depth data reporting surrounding online performance, conversion rates and item popularity will support informed decision making, unveil the kind of content that should be produced and where it should be distributed.
Cloud-based, mobile solutions lead the way
As a retail business owner, there are many things that require your time and attention – some of which will necessitate you to work off-premise. Gone are the days where businesses need to be anchored to old-school hardware that doesn’t support cloud functionality. Being able to exhibit on-the-go agility with, for example, problem-solving business operations and managing inventory can decrease the stresses associated with taking time away from the store. This is especially so for complex, multi-location retailers.
Beyond this, mobile point-of-sale solutions enable staff to create worthwhile on-premise experiences for shoppers who have made the conscious decision to shut their laptops and browse in-store. Cutting wait-times by decreasing the need for checkout queues can be supported by staff using mobile devices to process payments or check inventory: leaving more time to focus on nurturing rapport and return business. Leaning on tech allows businesses to do more with less, and improve outdated practices.
Despite ongoing commentary on the challenges that 2023 will pose for retailers, businesses can continue to thrive if they stay ahead of the game through investing in worthwhile one-stop-shop point-of-sale and tech solutions like Lightspeed that support evolving omnichannel consumer preferences. Speed, personalisation and a willingness to modernise are the missing pieces in the industry’s puzzle this year.
Simon Le Grand is senior director of marketing at Lightspeed.