It’s been another whirlwind year for Australian retailers. From the record rise in ecommerce sales, to keeping up with the changes in consumer behaviour, particularly as it pertains to social shopping through platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

To meet shifting consumer expectations and keep customers loyal, many retailers have enhanced their ecommerce platforms by investing in cloud-based business management systems to cope with the demands of social selling.

We’ve seen great ideas like novel delivery methods to new shopping experiences where customers can try on and preview items in virtual reality (VR), from companies like Hairhouse, Bailey Nelson and Seven Miles Coffee Roasters. Whether these trends are a flash in the pan, or now part of ‘business as usual’, here are a few examples of how a couple of our customers are changing the shopping landscape.

Reaching customers during challenging times

With most hair salons closed nationwide for an extended period this year, not only were haircuts off the table, staying connected to customers was also a challenge. With almost one in four shoppers (23%) willing to pay a premium for “same day” delivery, it’s clear convenience and speed are primary drivers for consumers in Australia.

In a bid to continue serving their customers, Australian beauty retailer, Hairhouse, became the first non-food retailer in Australia to offer an express store-to-door delivery experience. Hairhouse continues to offer same day delivery to ensure beauty lovers across Sydney and Melbourne can access their favourite products at the click of a button.

Try before you buy

Once reserved for serious gamers, augmented, mixed and virtual reality is becoming more widely used in the retail industry across Australia. In fact, research shows 65% of leading consumer brands in Australia are investing in augmented reality as the technologies become more sophisticated and affordable.

One such brand to branch into the realm of immersive experiences is Bondi-born optical retailer, Bailey Nelson. Prior to 2020, their retail experience was focused predominantly on in-store, however, facing store closures across Australia, the team adapted to meet customers online.

Providing a virtual try-on service quickly became a service in demand, but ensuring the experience had the same look and feel to trying on glasses in-store was critical. An initial trial of this new service was rolled out across 60 products and the immediate response was overwhelmingly positive. Even with less customer traffic in-store, there was a 70% increase in sales and online sales conversion lift by 400%. After its success, this service is now available across Australia for all products.

Standing out from the crowd

It’s safe to say that we’re a nation of coffee lovers! The Australian coffee market is among the largest in the world, with the industry contributing more than 4.5 billion dollars to the economy.  Standing out from the crowd in this saturated market is tough, to say the least.

For Sydney based Seven Miles Coffee Roasters, the answer is not just to be different, but to be unique. The specialty roaster embarked on a journey to redefine the next chapter in the evolution of coffee, by launching the Seven Miles Coffee Science and Education Centre. The research centre was established to push the boundaries in the art of coffee roasting and brewing and create new coffee blends and experiences for coffee lovers. 

With the shift in customer behaviour and increased expectations, the retail sector has reached a crossroads: stay as is or adapt to the way consumers want to engage with your brand.

By investing in business management software that unifies operations and provides transparency across teams, retailers now have an opportunity to rejuvenate their offering, connect with new customers and find meaningful ways to add value.

Jason Toshack is vice president and general manager for Australia and New Zealand at Oracle NetSuite.