In the wake of the 2021 lockdowns, the past year has seen retailers double down on the online retail experience. While some were better placed to deal with demand, supply chains and manufacturers were finally feeling the effects after close to two years of lockdowns and restrictions, bringing with it new challenges.
With 2022 upon us, some of Australia’s leading tech businesses share what their experiences over the last 12 months have taught them, and what they expect will define success for retailers in the coming year.
The Australian retail industry saw bricks and mortar stores closed for the better part of two years. In 2022, LogicMonitor vice president and general manager for Asia Pacific and Japan, Richard Gerdis believes there will be more investments into the bricks and mortar stores despite it being one part of the broader customer engagement.
“Meanwhile the online space will continue to see accelerated development and investments to improve customer experience. Off the back of this, we’ll see greater modernisation of tools and increased digital innovation, all of which will require greater effort to manage and monitor and as a result a single unified platform will be needed to gain visibility into IT insights at scale,” he said.
Confluent is starting to move from customers expecting smooth transactional capabilities to truly delightful experiences. “We believe that customer brand loyalty will demand these real-time and highly personalised engagements,” vice president of Asia Pacific, Damien Wong said.
“Confluent offers the underpinning technology required to achieve a truly seamless experience across all digital and physical touchpoints. This will be necessary for retailers to achieve and maintain success now and in the future.
“2022 marks a new era of growth, adaptation, and new mindsets. By paying attention to future trends, companies can successfully transition to hybrid working, attract the right talent, find creative solutions to customer problems and tap into the power of real-time data,” he added.
“Amidst an expected shift towards hyper-personalisation across the industry in 2022, retailers will increase their investment in technologies that can provide a complete understanding of each interaction their customer has with their brand, not just past purchases,” Nuance Communications managing director for enterprise – Australia and New Zealand, Robert Schwarz said.
“In turn, I expect AI-powered, digital contact centres will become more popular as they allow retailers to break down silos between digital and voice channels, analyse aggregated data in real-time, and access the insights required to hyper-personalise the customer experience. The increase in hyper-personalisation must be met with an increased focus on security.”
As technological innovations surrounding ecommerce, customer journeys and in-store experiences shape the retail landscape, security and data protections will continue to be a priority, according to McAfee Enterprise senior regional director for Australia and New Zealand, Bastian Schmederer.
“As it stands, Australia is facing challenges securing cyber security talent, specifically talent in the retail industry. Going into 2022, the retail space will need to prioritise their search for cyber talent to allow for the ongoing safety and security of not only their own data but that of their customer’s data,” he said.
2021 saw a dramatic change in how retailers engage with customers due to lockdowns, the boom in e-commerce and rising expectations, which quickly left behind those who didn’t adapt, F5 director of sales and solutions engineering for Asia Pacific, China and Japan, Marc Brown said.
“While restrictions are easing, the focus on adaptable and secure digital customer experiences are here to stay and will be critical for the year ahead. Retailers must look to applications that complement and enhance in-store and digital experiences and leverage real-time data to ensure a holistic and friction-free experience across all channels.”
Today’s consumers have high expectations from retailers, including convenience, superior customer service, and better and secure shopping experiences both online and in-store, according to Rackspace Technology chief technology officer for Asia Pacific and Japan, Emma Pudney.
“This requires retailers to find new and engaging methods through innovation to maintain and grow brand equity. However, in the age of the customer—one size fits few,” she said.
“With the right digital solution, such as micro-segmentation, retailers can use data to learn more about and stay ahead of customer needs. By having a holistic view of data from internal and external sources, retailers can discover what makes their customers tick and deliver relevant experiences and solutions.
“The driver to business success and impact will always be understanding your customers. In 2022 and beyond, we’re going to see more businesses using micro-segmentation, which can lead to highly personalised experiences that compel customers to make their final purchases,” she added.
With Australian shoppers already spending in Black Friday and Christmas sales, revenge shopping is set to continue well beyond the holiday and sales season into 2022, fueled by extended sales and discounts as retailers look to capitalise on high demand after the lockdown, was the view of ShopFully country manager for Australia, Dean Vocisano.
“However, while spending may be up, meeting customer expectations for seamless and integrated experiences will be even more crucial. Next year, retailers will blend digital and physical experiences to meet where customers are. For example, we will see more shoppers increasingly utilise digital catalogues through their mobile phones to plan their purchases before going in store.
“We will also see retailers revamping their in-store layouts as they continue to grapple with restrictions and social distancing and as an opportunity to meet changing consumer browsing preferences.”