The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 resulted in significant change in consumer behaviour in Australia as store closures due to lockdowns caused more people than ever before to shop online.
Based on research by Australia Post, more than 200,000 new shoppers purchased something online for the first time, and over a third of new shoppers made multiple purchases in April 2020.[i]
This experience has been reflected in international research with an Adyen Retail Report on the retail and food and beverage businesses across Europe, the US, Asia Pacific, and Brazil showing [ii]:
- In-store customers spent 40% more when they moved online during the pandemic.
- 71% of customers will not return if they have had a bad experience either in-store or online.
- 52% of consumers say the layout of a store is important.
While the rate of the growth in 2021 in Australia has slowed, the NAB Online Retail Sales Index shows that growth levels are still elevated (40.7% YOY growth for February 2021),[iii] so much of the change in consumer behaviour has been permanent.
These statistics highlight the increasing importance of delivering a rich and consistent omnichannel experience for retail customers.
Payments Consulting Network Managing Director, Mangala Martinus, caught up with Jeremy Krause, Chief Innovation and Disruption Officer, Global Media Brands, to discuss how the company is tapping into this e-commerce growth and building a successful omnichannel experience for customers.
Global Media Brands is part of the Global Retail Brands Group which includes House, Robins Kitchen, Pet House, THE CUSTOM CHEF™, MyHouse, and Playcorp (Licensing Apparel). The group operates over 170 stores, 15 websites and over 20 different social channels across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.
Jeremy Krause joined Global Retail Brands in 2019 with the remit to identify new product/business opportunities, fast track innovation, bridge the gap between stores and online, and grow the online presence – fortuitous timing, given the events of 2020. Did he have a crystal ball to coincidently create a new arm of the business geared towards dealing with the upheaval that was about to hit the industry? Was this new Innovation and Disruption team going to facilitate change or create chaos? Covid-19 reinforced the need to empower teams to think outside the box and be agile.
You can read the highlights of the conversation below.
MM: What does “omnichannel” mean for you and why is it important?
“Omnichannel for us is about the full customer experience picture, not just the physical and online channels, but all the points in between where customers engage with our brand, whether it be conversations with the brand via social media or indirectly through chatter and content created through online and offline channels.”
MM: How is Global Retail Brands ensuring that it creates a successful omnichannel experience for its customers?
JK: Consistent messaging across all channels is key, so we work on bridging the gaps between online and offline communication by bringing the product, communication, marketing, branding, content, planning and buying teams together.
“We work on building lifestyle and inspirational themes to keep customers engaged long term, rather than on a transactional basis.”
The Le Connoisseur range – French inspired cooking made easy – is an example of this. We have built this from a small product range to over 70 SKUs in 10 colours and it has become the third biggest driver of sales since launch.
MM: What must your service providers deliver to support you with this?
JK: There are a lot of elements required to bring the TRUE omnichannel experience together and we work with payment gateway providers, BNPL providers and customer service platforms to deliver unique experiences. As an example, we are integrating Zen Desk with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyse and pick up the tone of voice to allow our customer service agents to better understand the psyche of our customers during support calls.
Some of the key elements that we look for in our service providers include:
- The solutions must be scalable, as they need to be rolled out to over 20 customer service agents, 150 head office staff, and 2,000 store staff across Australia. Thinking about scale, building the foundations is key to a successful outcome and importantly driving margins for the business and creating a strong culture.
- Their willingness to challenge us and bring new ideas to the table is critical to deliver innovation.
MM: What do you see as the “next big thing” in omnichannel?
JK: We need to better measure ROI from online to instore and instore to online. People wrote off physical stores last year, but physical stores cannot be ignored as they still represent the bulk of sales.
“Augmented reality and virtual reality are ways to bridge the gap between the online and instore experiences to create engaging and unique customer experiences, so watch this space.”
DISRUPT OR BE DISRUPTED! This has been the rhetoric throughout the past 12 months across the executive team and has seen the exciting development of new innovative products, creative social campaigns and the creation of an in-house media content team – Global Media Brands. This has provided the gateway to rich content driving customer experiences online and instore and truly solidifying an authentic omnichannel experience.
Jeremy Krause participated in the panel on Winning at Omnichannel: What you Need to be Doing and Why at Seamless Australia on 6 May 2021.
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i Australia Post, Inside Australian Online Shopping: 2020 eCommerce Industry Report, https://auspost.com.au/content/dam/auspost_corp/media/documents/2020-ecommerce-industry-report.pdf – accessed on 27 April 2021.
ii Adyen, Adyen Retail Report, https://www.adyen.com/knowledge-hub/reports/retail-report-new-beginnings – accessed on 27 April 2021.
iii NAB, NAB Online Retail Sales Index: February 2021, https://business.nab.com.au/nab-online-retail-sales-index-february-2021-45598/ – accessed on 27 April 2021.