Despite the rapid growth of ecommerce, demand for in-store experiences has not diminished with almost three quarters of Australians (72%) suggesting that they still prefer to shop in-store.

In a recent interview, Adyen country manager for Australia and New Zealand, Michel van Aalten said the key is to satisfy and captivate customers by ensuring they get the best of both worlds – the speed and convenience of ecommerce, coupled with the pleasure of visiting a beautifully-presented store.

Covid-19 has been a catalyst for a shift towards online shopping. What responses have you seen from your customers in Australia?

Traditionally Australian consumers have lagged in online retail adoption rates, but 2020 heralded in big changes as the retail sector shifted toward digital sales channels to maintain transactions and drive repeat purchasing among loyal consumers.

Independent research commissioned for Adyen’s Agility Report shows that 40% of Australian shoppers spent more when they moved online during the pandemic. One third (33%) also plan to shop online more now than ever before.

When broken out by age, almost half (46%) of 18 to 34 year olds will embrace this habit, as will 38% of 35-54 year olds, and 17% of those aged 55 and older.

Despite the migration to online, Australians still love in-store experiences. Our research also found that globally, Australians have the strongest desire to shop in-store (72%) compared to 62% of Americans and 50% of Brits. Over the coming years, the physical store will become more of a showroom and space for shoppers to engage with a brand. While the shopping and payments experience will increasingly move online – or become a hybrid of the two – the key enabler here is unified commerce.

What is unified commerce and how does it create value for merchants?

What used to be online or in-store is now click and collect, cross-channel returns, endless aisles, in-app food orders and pay-at-table. Unified commerce is the term used for a retail software and payments system which connects inventory and customer data to all online, in-store and mobile sales channels.

It allows businesses to understand their customers from a more holistic viewpoint, permitting more customised experiences. For most Australians (73%), the ease of shopping online is as important as product quality.

Nearly three quarters of Australians expect businesses to maintain the flexibility they’ve shown in selling across multiple channels during the pandemic, reaffirming the importance of integrated payments solutions to gain customer loyalty. Providing the payments platform that supports these seamless purchasing experiences is a core component of our strategy, now and into the future.

What results have you seen from those businesses that effectively combined their physical and digital worlds?

Half of unified commerce retailers saw transactions remain consistent during the pandemic, according to our global data. Because they delivered channel agnostic experiences that prioritised the customer, these businesses were able to stabilise sales by offsetting lost in-store transactions with an increase in ecommerce. From our Agility Report we also see that the more channels retailers can offer shoppers, the higher their value to the business.

What solutions do you provide to retailers to get them selling digitally quickly?

We offer solutions for endless aisle, or in-store kiosks, which allow shoppers to browse and buy items from the full online inventory while they are in-store. The customer can then order and pay using an in-store payment terminal. Using the Adyen platform as its single payments solution for both ecommerce and point of sale also helps merchants maintain a single integration point, which simplifies implementation and reduces maintenance costs.

What factors are driving consumer loyalty, and what changes do you expect to see over 2021?

Before the pandemic, retailers either looked at services in-store or services online. Now they are required to take a broader approach – across every channel, to enhance the customer experience, build trust, and motivate loyalty. The more engagement you have through the various channels with your consumers, the more data you have to create loyalty and ‘stickiness’.

Australians have high expectations when it comes to loyalty programs, with six in 10 preferring to shop with retailers that reward loyalty and a further 63% wanting programs to be linked automatically to their payment card. Unified commerce means channels are connected in one system, making it possible to run cross-channel loyalty programs.

Retailers can open new shopping experiences such as the ability to check if a store has stock before the consumer leaves home, automatically triggered discounts and tailored recommendations, creating new avenues to reward repeat customers.