Black Friday and Christmas sales were boosted by a new-found freedom across Australia in 2021, after two years in-and-out of lockdown. People seemed desperate to get to the shops and resume traditional shopping, causing in-store sales to surge to a record $33 billion in November.

But the latest Omicron outbreak has seen shoppers re-entering the virtual world once more – and it seems ongoing disruptions from the pandemic are lingering.  

Retailers have been dramatically affected once again and it seems how people shop could be permanently altered by the pandemic.

In fact, MessageMedia’s new Retail Tech Revolution report found that 41% of Australians plan to continue shopping online at the same volume as the pandemic.

A similar number said that they were eager to return to shops as it’s safe to do so – but these plans continue to be delayed as new COVID-19 variants rear its head.

A silver lining to this difficult time is that Australia has seen some truly revolutionary growth in digital retail.

It hasn’t just been retail giants like Amazon and AliExpress that benefited, but there have been opportunities for businesses of all sizes that embraced new technologies to better connect with their customers.

Click-and-collect via SMS, same-day delivery, virtual Zoom experiences and augmented reality have all been part of a new era of integrated technology.  

And just as EFTPOS, self-checkout and eCommerce itself once seemed progressive, these new digital additions will remain firmly part of the retail landscape for years to come. 

So it’s vital that retailers prepare for the technological revolution to continue even beyond the pandemic– which shop owners only ignore at their peril.

While it’s important to keep up with the latest tech, keeping it simple can also work incredibly effectively for small to medium businesses. MessageMedia’s report revealed a retail SMS delivery on has actually grown by an extraordinary 76% since the start of 2020.

An impressive 40 per cent of Australians have visited an online or physical store after receiving an SMS from a retailer, and there’s been a 26% jump in average number of SMS sent by pre-pandemic retailers.

All things considered, this is hardly a surprise. While the average open rate for emails is only about 20%, studies show that people will read a text message 98% of the time. By comparison, retailers are reeling in 10 sales per every 100 messages.

Whatever digital transformation may bring, it’s hard to see traditional bricks-and-mortar ever facing extinction. In an increasingly online world, people are still craving a physical experience and sense community more than ever.

As Australians find ways to shop amid the Omicron outbreak, retailers should remind themselves there’s a range of established and evolving communications technology that can support their shops and services during this tumultuous time.

Take a read of MessageMedia’s action checklist within our Tech Retail Revolution report to prepare, adapt and act.


  • Monitor for insights on consumer search activity
  • Audit your customer experience offering now to future-proof your retail brand
  • Highlight key quality features of your product, sustainability policies and ethos on digital platforms
  • Use SMS to engage with customers for updates, offers and nurture messaging


  • Trial SMS to deliver immediate and measurable promotional offers, redeemable via vouchers or QR codes
  • Send promotional offers and bonuses to previously enrolled customers
  • Incorporate interactive ‘how-to’ content into eCommerce offerings, either as a value-add or up-sell
  • Offer bespoke or limited release product ranges to targeted customers via email and SMS
  • Launch an SMS campaign with a reactive offer


  • Start taking steps to revolutionise your Customer Experience
  • Amplify real-time connections with customers via Zoom, live chat and two-way SMS
  • Utilise SMS as a follow up channel to extend engagement
  • Customise email and SMS for different customers, based on their preferred method and frequency of communication

Tara Salmon is chief marketing officer at MessageMedia.