53% of Retailers Say Digital Channels Attract More Customer Queries

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By Published On: January 24, 20190 Comments

Australian retailers are reportedly faster than other sectors to embrace changes in consumer behaviours, with more businesses moving online than in any other industry.

A survey of 1,000 small businesses has found that company’s within the retail and hospitality sectors are confident 2019 will be more profitable for them than 2018 was. MYOB has concluded that by embracing digital opportunities businesses are setting them up for success, but a lack of forward planning is troubling.

Thirty-eight percent of businesses within the retail and hospitality sector are predicting revenue increases in 2019, compared to the 32 percent that improved sales in 2018. However, when asked how they planned to achieve this growth, only 42 percent of respondents had written a business plan for the year.

According to MYOB, 33 percent of small businesses within the retail and hospitality sectors are planning to diversify their product range in the next year – more than respondents in any other sector. Online engagement was also noted as a key factor contributing to the level of success businesses will be able to achieve over the next year.

Retail and hospitality businesses reportedly have the least amount of catching up to do out of any other sector when it comes to embracing the digital economy, with 24 percent saying they operate online and social media is a key part of their business model. Of these digitally savvy companies, 53 percent of them say their online channels generate more customer enquiries than their physical ones.

“The sector has really caught on to how consumers are behaving. More and more consumers are doing their research online, and are using visual sites such as Instagram and Pinterest to get ideas and plan their purchases,” said MYOB CEO, Tim Reed.

With the convenience of online shopping being a “game changer”, Reed says that it’s “great to see so many businesses embracing this channel”.

The retail sector isn’t expecting 2019 to be without its hurdles, however, as respondents reported a number of concerns for the year ahead. The top issues plaguing retailers are the cost of utilities (48 percent), competitor activity (42 percent) and fuel prices (41 percent), especially as the pressure to provide fast and efficient services is at an all-time high.

“Small business in Australia is facing headwinds, especially with the rising costs of fuel, energy and of doing business – they are not naive about the muted economy – but are backing themselves, embracing these challenges with enthusiasm and are excited for the year ahead,” Reed said.

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