Shopping today is a digital-first experience for Australians. People are shopping more online than ever before. We’ve seen another important shift where a person’s first instinct now is to reach for their phone or laptop and look for more details online — rather than relying on physical stores to discover new products or see what’s in stock.

In fact, 9 in 10 retail dollars spent in traditional brick-and-mortar stores were influenced by digital during the most recent peak season. Looking closer, one in two Australians under the age of 55 are using Google Search to find initial information and ideas about what they might need — and this behaviour is growing. 

Why does this matter for retail businesses? With more than half of retail searches in Australia happening outside of regular working hours, if you’re not offering shoppers something to discover when your store’s doors are bolted shut, you’re missing out. Australians love shopping in-store, but stores are now a physical touchpoint in multi-channel consumer journeys. Rather than being a challenge to the store’s existence, digital’s ability to influence store interactions presents a great opportunity for brands.

The good news is that while the retail customer journey may seem increasingly difficult to plan for — there are things retailers can do now to create agile, multi-channel commerce experiences and future-proof marketing strategies.

Retailers can start by investing in first-party data, such as email addresses and purchase histories, and measurement to build a detailed and privacy-preserving understanding of your customers; how they shop, their motivations, their journeys, and what they’re doing online and offline. 

After understanding what your business already collects, you can then build your first-party data strategy across key channels including:

  • Investing in tagging infrastructure for your website to measure conversions. 
  • Adding a software development kit (SDK) to your retail app to help you gather key customer insights.
  • Organising the data people share with you offline when shopping in your stores with a customer relationship management tool, then import your offline conversions to measure campaign performance — so you get a more holistic view across omnichannel retail touchpoints. 

Then, embracing new capabilities through automation that allow retailers to stay responsive and flexible even when the pace of change is hard to keep up with. 

By doing this, you’ll build a digital foundation for your business that’s reliable, agile, and – most importantly – will future proof your business.

Renee Gamble is managing director of sales at Google Australia.