Australian consumers are embracing the online and contactless world like never before following the pandemic. Despite the majority now being free of lockdowns, the behaviour surge into online consumption is holding, with online traffic continuing at highs marking a definitive shift in consumer spending from physical to online retail in the last 18 months.

In some organisations however, e-commerce is still not the business priority focus that its value growth warrants. This is often due to the difficulty in how it’s measured versus the usual success markers, with the ‘incrementality of growth’ and e-com’s ‘cost to serve’ also being two debates that can often result in companies delaying purposeful investment in this space.

However, we are now reaching the moment where businesses surely are forced to reconsider their future plans as in the space of two short years e-commerce in Australia has now become a scale growth channel, contributing the majority of financial growth to many organisations. And there are many reasons to believe this will continue over the mid-term.

Like many industries, the home hygiene category has had to adapt quickly due to the pandemic, with products never in such high demand. This period for Reckitt has allowed us an opportunity to reset the business and invest heavily into resource and systems to ensure we’re set to lead as a best in class organisation into the future. This has resulted in a tripling in the size of the e-commerce team since 2020, and we’re excited to announce the creation of a new digital marketing team in 2022. Thanks to these ongoing investments, Reckitt Hygiene is three years ahead of our plan for realignment, moving e-commerce from 7% to almost 20% of the business in just an 18 month timeframe.

What makes the e-commerce trajectory more exciting is when you consider the future.

There’s no reason now that this channel will not at least double again within the next five years, post a brief cooling post-COVID-19. If this were to happen (and note this only requires compound growth of 15% per annum), we could very soon be at a stage where e-commerce could be the largest channel in Australia and the majority of our business.

This reality now forces not just an organisations but also the individuals within to consider how quickly they can upscale their knowledge in this space and plan ahead. You could argue that if individuals are not getting experience and an understanding of this channel within their next two roles (or five years), then they will be left behind. After all, how can you remain credible if you can’t influence outcomes in what could easily be any businesses largest channel? 

In summary, it’s clear that for companies to keep up-to-date with the demands of their consumers and shoppers, investing heavily in e-commerce is becoming even more prevalent. As we start fresh in 2022, I’m excited by the personal and professional growth opportunities e-commerce continues to affords our industry, to ensure we’re investing properly for the future, looking for ways to upskill our employees, and thinking ahead about the next big thing (or career move). All for the end-goal of remaining competitive in an increasingly digital – and exciting – world. 

Oliver Tatlow is regional director for Reckitt Hygiene Australia and New Zealand.