1. Shopping becomes less menial and more meaningful
From payments to home food delivery, consumers learned to avoid ‘the human touch’ in 2020 for safety reasons. During the pandemic, eftpos claimed 400% growth in its mobile payments business as Australian consumers turned to contactless payments.3
For Anders, digital technology is the key to making transactions “more humane and less mundane” and removing the last points of friction. That could be through AI taking care of routine questions online via chatbot, freeing humans to focus on more complex advice. Or online Zoom consultations, as fashion retailer Cue trialled recently.
Be Fit Food delivers snap-frozen wholefood meals direct to customers across Australia to help them ‘eat themselves better.’ Founder and accredited dietitian and exercise physiologist Kate Save says the convenience of healthy pre-prepared meals became even more important during 2020. “Even though people were working from home, they were more time poor than ever with home-schooling, house duties and managing a family,” she says.
She has also invested in new technology to help guide them on their personal journey to better health. This includes teaming up with a body composition testing business mPort Health Pods.
“You can create a 3D avatar of yourself to visualise progress, and an annual pass gives you access to any pod around the country,” explains Kate. “We wanted to give our clients a tool to measure things their scales cannot. We also started working with a DNA testing company to give clients more knowledge. It helps them stay motivated with making their health a priority.”
2. The rise of hyper-local commerce
“There’s this idea now that geography doesn’t really matter anymore, that people are untethering from the CBD and moving to regional and lifestyle areas because they can work anywhere,” says Anders.
“We call this ‘connect-ography’.” He believes it will change retail’s physical footprint away from big flagship city stores and into local communities.
“For example, where I live (in Sydney’s Northern Beaches), Australian fashion labels bassike and Ephemera have recently opened their new flagship stores in Avalon Beach,” he says.
Kate says clients can pick up her meals in her two stores as well as a selection of local supermarkets and pharmacies. She also uses Australia Post to ship same day within Melbourne metro areas for a flat $7 surcharge.
Kate says online orders increased 100% from January to November 2020. She says 70% of her customers in that period were based in Victoria, which faced an extended period of strict lockdown regulations. “It became a lot clearer just how quickly health can be taken from you,” she says. “So we’ve also set up a health support network, to give customers access to local services in their community.”
3. The ‘eco’ in recovery
Anders believes sustainability will play a major role in post-pandemic recovery, and consumers expect retail brands to reassure them they are doing their part.
“For example, my delivery notification for my son’s Christmas present also advised me the shipment was carbon offset,” notes Anders. “Consumers will prioritise brands that do good for the planet – it’s no longer about just sourcing the cheapest goods because we’ve realised just how fragile our supply chains can be.”
Kate says she is always challenging her team to put sustainability first in their decisions. “It’s making sure our packaging choices are environmentally sound, and minimising food waste. Because we source as much as we can locally, and make everything here locally and snap-freeze it fresh, there’s very little waste.”
Retail brands that can tap into these three trends may be better equipped to engage more meaningfully with customers, and create longer-term loyal relationships.
Anders predicts we will see “the rise of sustainable brands who wear their hearts on their sleeve, showing empathy for their customers, and enabling transactions in contactless, safe ways.”
“Retailers are bringing humanity and creativity to these relationships, and that is what will create this new retail renaissance.”