Digital retail: Challenges, opportunities and pitfalls

2 experts offer their thoughts on the changing face of shopping.

Covid is changing the way we shop. Online sales in Australia are growing, from 10% of retail spending pre-Covid to around 14% now. In the UK, the figure is approaching 30%.

“Covid has crammed 10 years of progress into 6 months,” said Kelly Slessor, developer of virtual shopping curation tool, Shopyou. “Retailers who haven’t begun to make the shift to digital are going to struggle now. Over 80% of shoppers look online for a product first, and most won’t look past the first page of Google results.”

Maintaining a physical retail presence is still important for several reasons. “We know a person shopping in-store will often spend 50 to 100% more than they would when shopping online,” explained Lee Hardham, founder of shopping app Brauz.

Customers still spend more money on average when shopping in a physical store than online.

“Customers like to see a product, to validate their decision to spend,” Kelly said. “The challenge is how to bring the digital and physical experience together.”

Kelly and Lee have some top tips for retailers in this new landscape. Hear more from them at our free upcoming retail innovation workshop.

Make a virtual appointment

Having a customer make a virtual appointment, through a digital platform like Zoom, is a powerful tool. “If you ask a customer to make an appointment, they’re already setting the expectation that they’re there to spend,” Lee said. “They set the time aside specifically, they’re not just browsing.” Having a booked appointment time also allows the retailer to create a tailored experience for the customer.

Support for local business has grown during Covid, with many customers choosing to spend money in local marketplaces.

There’s a lot of love for local business

Covid is driving support for local marketplaces, which is good opportunity for small retailers. “Shoppers are looking for a personal connection,” Kelly said. “Having a good digital presence allows you to tell your story and build that relationship with a local audience.”

Don't get stuck on socials

“I regularly see businesses who invest too much time in creating social content and growing these channels without the results to justify it,” Kelly said. Social media conversion rates often as low as 1%.

“Globally online retailers convert about 2% of their website traffic into a sale,” Lee said. “Removing friction from the buying process, and capturing some of the 98% not currently spending with you, is a better area to focus on.”

Learn more about digital retail at a free online session on Friday 26 February. We’re hosting a series of no-cost online retail innovation events throughout February and March 2021.

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