This will be remembered as one of the most turbulent years and complex tax seasons that Australian retailers have ever faced. From snap lockdowns, to decreased tourism and the mass migration to hybrid work, retailers have had to be more resilient than ever.

Whether your business has thrived or survived during the pandemic, challenges remain. COVID-19 has swayed consumer shopping behaviours and attitudes, with 67 per cent of Australians saying that they have cut down their spending in the last year. The new financial year offers an opportunity for retailers to review the year that was, assess areas for improvement and focus on growth in the ever evolving retail landscape.

As your business emerges from this once-in-a-generation tax year, now is the perfect time to apply what you’ve learned and set yourself up for future success. Here are my key recommendations:

  • Simplify and streamline processes – When COVID-19 hit, many retailers had to implement new processes and technology to make sure they could continue to operate. While this quick response was critical, now many are faced with a tangled web of platforms and systems that aren’t necessarily fit for purpose. This is an excellent time to review your technology partners and streamline your services to ensure they are seamlessly working together.
  • Review contracts, suppliers and agreements – With cash flow always a challenge, the beginning of the new financial year is a good time to think about renegotiating lower rates with your suppliers or reviewing subscriptions. Take Specialty Coffee Traders (SCT), a Northern Queensland based coffee supplier, for example, who engaged DocuSign to better serve new and existing customers. Through digital contract management, SCT was able to enable customers to generate supplier contracts via their smartphone in 15 minutes or less — saving them time and money. Prior to this, and given the remote location of the business, contracts of up to 7-10 pages would need to be printed and hand delivered, before being signed and returned – a process which sometimes would take many days.
  • Use smart, collaborative digital tools – While reviewing your technology providers, you can also review how you manage your documentation. Smart and collaborative document management is a game changer for many retailers, saving you an average of 2.2 hours per contract. One of the most challenging things to manage when it comes to suppliers, contractors and customers is the small print. Smart documentation means that you can be alerted when certain clauses or terms come into effect or if someone is in breach of contract.
  • Go paperless – With many retailers needing to chop and change supply contracts to meet fluctuating consumer demand, printing, scanning and signing physical files are becoming more inconvenient to manage. Paper trails cause confusion and important documents could get lost. An easy fix? Using a digital contract management software that easily allows retailers to edit and update supplier contracts to ensure you have the right amount of stock to meet customer demand.

A recent poll conducted by DocuSign found that the majority of people (47%) anticipate their company’s focus for the next 12 months to be on increasing operational efficiency.  We recommend this be your focus also to give your business a strong start in FY22.

Bethany Nyberg is regional vice president for commercial sales at DocuSign.