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The Cost of Re-Opening Retail | Q&A with Zip Global

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By Published On: October 22, 20210 Comments

Restrictions are lifting across the country, meaning retail is expected to undergo a series of changes. We spoke to Steve Brennen, the CMO of Zip Global to understand the impact of lockdowns on the industry, how the lifting of restrictions will affect e-commerce and the future of retail.

How were online retailers impacted by the re-opening of physical retail in NSW?

From Monday 11 October to Saturday 26 October we saw retail expenditure (in-store) increase 72 percent WoW with Wednesday and Saturday seeing the greatest increase in expenditure at 90 percent and 96 percent respectively. In contrast, we saw the amount spent online decline 14 percent WoW.

Aussies have embraced online shopping over the course of the pandemic and retailers have invested in the technology and logistics to create a really effective and seamless omnichannel shopping experience. Right now consumers are making the most of their increased ability to shop in-store, but as the situation stabilises over the next few months, we’ll see that the growth in online shopping is here to stay.

How can retailers make sure they’re prepared for the influx of customers in the coming weeks?

Creating a seamless omnichannel shopping experience will be key for retailers.  With capacity limits and vaccination mandates in place, customers will be looking for flexibility and will expect a consistent experience no matter whether they’re shopping on their laptop, mobile, in-store or using services like click-and-collect.

Based on the date you currently have, how can retailers in Victoria prepare for their own upcoming ‘Freedom Day’?

What we’re seeing as NSW reopens mirrors the experience of other markets where Zip operates, like the UK and US. In-store spending has increased quickly, in part due to pent up demand for in-person services, such as long-overdue haircuts, or those items where there is a preference to be able to try-before-you-buy, such as shoes and musical instruments. All of those categories have seen significant spend in the last week and we can expect Victoria to have very much the same experience.

On the first day of reopening, the story was very much: get a haircut, invest in some new clothes and go out for a meal or a drink. As the week went on we saw spending increase across most categories from home furnishings to jewellery, books and even medical and dental services. We also saw higher spending at campgrounds and trailer parks, and as travel restrictions continue to ease, we expect to see a significant increase in all areas of travel and tourism spend as people become more confident in making travel plans. We can expect Victoria to see an uptick in the same categories too.

Given Victoria is opening much closer to Christmas though, having an omnichannel strategy for retailers is critical so that customers can transition seamlessly from online to in-store purchasing and back to online if they wish.

Do you think online sales will start to slip now that physical retail has reopened?

Aussies have embraced online shopping over the course of the pandemic and retailers have invested in the technology and logistics to create a really effective and seamless omnichannel shopping experience. Right now consumers are making the most of their increased ability to shop in-store, but as the situation stabilises over the next few months, we’ll see that the growth in online shopping is here to stay.

How can retailers make sure the customer experience remains positive online and in-store in the coming weeks?

Having a solid omnichannel retail and marketing strategy in place is critical for retailers as customers return to stores. This will ensure the transition from online to in-store shopping and the customer experience of both remains seamless and consistent.

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