When the pandemic first hit, retailers were quick to “pivot” – it was a matter of survival and those who were quick to adapt and fast to digitise remained in business. There was remarkable focus on online shopping and eCommerce, with many retailers expanding their digital offering on the presumption that this is now the “new normal”.

As restrictions start to ease, consumers are going back to old habits, retailers are reporting an increased in foot traffic, with many returning to physical stores, citing the preference for face-to-face interaction and personalised customer service experience.

Setting retailers up for success in today’s environment means looking at tangible ways to adopt a sustainable eCommerce strategy that caters to customers preferences but also responds rapidly to unpredictable circumstances such as snap lockdowns and restrictions.

Giving customers what they want, where they want it

A sustainable eCommerce strategy is about allowing customers to return to your business and interact with your brand whenever it suits them – be it in-stores, online or on mobile.

This means introducing new channels and touch points that allow consumers to engage with your brand in a way that suits their personal preferences. New technologies such as live streaming and virtual reality are being used to recreate the face-to-face experience of being in-store many have missed throughout the pandemic.

For example, in response to the rise of home workouts amidst the pandemic, fitness apparel brand lululemon acquired ‘Mirror’, a smart workout machine that aims to bring the advantages of a brick-and-mortar fitness studio into the comfort of your home.

When it comes to convenience, consumers are spoilt for choice and their expectations are only rising. We have seen the proliferation of flexible purchase and pickup schemes such as click and collect, as well as next day refund options across online and offline channels.

To satisfy the demand for seamless online-offline experiences, retailers must prioritise their logistics and supply chain capabilities. This means choosing the right logistics partners, from the top of the supply chain, all the way through to the consumers doorstep.

Make shopping easy

High engagement with customers is more important now than ever before. It is no secret that the way consumers purchase has drastically changed. They expect more, they want more, and they know where to get it.

Ecommerce is not just about having a catalog on the website to showcase your products; it’s about creating a community to bring it to life so that people can engage with your brand. Social selling plays a huge role in establishing this community and keeps brands top of mind amongst target consumers, while subscription models encourage repeat purchases without the time burden.

Desktop shopping was huge in 2020, but by 2024, it is predicted that mobile shopping will eclipse online shopping as we know it. For retailers to ensure sustainability, mobile first strategies are a must. The statistic itself is a gamechanger, with eCommerce revenue projected to grow nearly 50 percent to US$54bn by 2024, driven largely by mobile phone, according to Worldpay from FIS’ Global Payments Report.

Provide a better way to pay

While Australians make their way back into physical stores, retailers now need to rethink their transaction touchpoint and payment systems.

With cash transactions on the decline in Australia – the economy is projected to be 98 percent cashless by 2024 – retailers will need to harness the power of new payment technologies in-store and online to cater to more customers and improve overall customer experience.

Australians are quick to embrace new payments innovations, with Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) transaction expected to represent 20 percent of the eCommerce market by 2024, while digital wallets are expected to reach 31 percent of all online transactions within the same period.

Retailers who satisfy consumer demand for a fast, frictionless payments experience will be rewarded with increased customer loyalty, a core component of a sustainable e-commerce strategy.

Like the way workplaces of today have changed, the retail landscape in Australia is, too, moving towards a hybrid model. The future of retail, alongside a post-COVID reality will boast a sustainable omnichannel strategy that seamlessly connects the online and in-store shopping experience yet continue to be agile enough to keep up and sustain momentum in a pandemic environment.

Yvonne Szeto is vice president commercial for Asia Pacific and global enterprise ecommerce at Worldpay from FIS.