The 2023 Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) shopping season proved that consumers are still ready and willing to spend money despite a rising cost of living – as long as they’re able to get a good deal on good quality items.

That’s right, a desire for quality has crept into consumers’ buying habits this year, according to the latest Shopify research, with value for money also a big ticket desire among consumers in the lead up to this year’s BFCM sales weekend.

The 2023 sales season also saw an increase in conscious and purposeful consumption among shoppers, with environmental sustainability being an increasingly important factor in how consumers choose which retailers to open their wallets for.

Although shoppers demonstrated a certain consciousness around their spending habits during this year’s BFCM season, they weren’t afraid to spend, with Australian merchants on Shopify enjoying a 22.7 per cent increase in consumers purchasing goods compared to last year. 

Indeed, Australia ranked fourth globally in terms of total spend with Shopify merchants during this year’s BFCM weekend. That’s incredible, given Australia’s size and population. The only countries ahead of Australia were the US, the UK and Canada. 

All told, shoppers in the local market spent an average of A$162.27 per order on Shopify over the sale weekend, well up from last year’s average of A$155.73 per order during the BFCM weekend in 2021. 

This is good news for Australian retailers. Looking ahead to 2023, retailers will be in a position to benefit from this growth by tapping into consumers’ evolving buying preferences. Here’s what to expect:

Values-aligned decision-making

Values are playing an increasingly prominent role in many consumers’ decision-making processes. One of the biggest areas informing shoppers’ values is sustainability, with more than half of Australian and New Zealand consumers surveyed by Shopify claiming that they shop sustainably now and plan to either continue with this into the new year or become even more sustainable in 2023. 

Retailers have already cottoned on to this trend, with 52 per cent of Australian businesses surveyed by Shopify viewing sustainability as a top priority, but we can expect to see an even greater emphasis on this in the coming year. Sustainability as a point differentiation is only going to become more important going forward.

Queuing up for quality

Once a top priority, quality has long played second fiddle to price when it comes to how many consumers choose to shop. However, more than two-thirds of Australian consumers polled by Shopify said they planned to spend money on higher quality products that they could expect to last for a long time during the BFCM sales weekend. 

That’s not to say price hasn’t remained a driving factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions, but the Shopify research findings do highlight quality as another area of competitive differentiation, one that doesn’t rely on the usual race to the bottom that sales seasons often result in. 

Tighter turnaround

Quick delivery is already a major factor in competitive differentiation for retailers, particularly among those that have an online sales channel, but it is set to become an even more fiercely fought battlefield in the new year for retailers. 

While quick delivery is important for retailers selling to local buyers, it’s an even greater concern for local retailers selling to international markets. With no less than 19 per cent of orders placed with Australian merchants on Shopify during the 2022 BFCM weekend coming from international buyers, delivery logistics will play an even greater role in 2023. 

Multi-platform purchasing

Giving consumers the ability to buy products in many places might seem like a no-brainer, but omnichannel sales strategies are by no means part of most Australian retailers’ business plans. Perhaps they should be. Shopify research suggests that younger respondents in the local region are highly receptive to new purchasing touch points, including social media. 

Fortunately, many merchants seem to understand this, with 31 per cent of Australian businesses surveyed by Shopify believing that sales through social media will form the largest part of their business by the end of the decade. This is important. Retailers with the greatest number of purchasing options are more likely to prevail in the new year. 

Shaun Broughton is managing director for Asia Pacific at Shopify.