Alibaba. Amazon. ASOS. These are the brands behind the changing face of retail shaping the customer experience in a radically shifting landscape. From customised shopping experiences to the latest technology impacting sales, these top retail trends will keep you in the loop and thinking outside the box.
Amazon has launched
The launch of Amazon in Australia is seeing businesses step up their e-commerce and in-person approach in a retail industry shakeup. Amazon’s marketplace, an eBay-style retail store listing third party sellers, is resetting the calibre of customer expectations through super-low pricing, convenience and fast-delivery. It’s no longer just an e-commerce site but has diverged into delivery services, fresh food, banking, TV streaming and checkout-free grocery stores and is set to take up event ticketing too. Amazon is reshaping the way we shop in 2018 and the focus for Australian retailers and SMEs is to make purchasing more convenient, flexible and customer focused through tailored deliveries and click-and-collect services – all in all, creating the ultimate customer experience that's such a significant piece of the Amazon experience.
Amazon isn’t just the competition though - small business in the retail space can sign up to the online marketplace and increase sales. Amazon is expected to boost the online shopping industry in Australia to $20.1 billion over the next five years..
Alibaba's Australian Marketplace
At the start of 2017, Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce platform, launched its headquarters in Melbourne and bolstered its presence in the Australian marketplace. As the world’s largest ecommerce market, China represents massive scope for Australian businesses who can successfully navigate the ‘most advanced digital economy in the world’. Alibaba doesn’t operate as a retailer itself, but its platform lets companies setup online stores. Companies are exploring new tactics to appeal to the Chinese market, like this: in the days leading up to Double 11, Alibaba’s lucrative shopping event which broke a record $33 billion sales in 24 hours, Blackmores took out advertising in Times Square. The brand doesn’t sell in the US but used the premium space create buzz as ‘Australia’s most trusted brand’ on social media to push sales through its Alibaba stores (which-50.com).
In November 2017, just 63 companies representing 252 brands made Australia the number 3 country selling to China on Double 11. It’s a booming market and Export Plus Global has opened doors for Australian businesses to sell and distribute products to China and globally through Alibaba to cater to this shifting retail space. Carving out a market in any new country has hoops and logistical hurdles which Export Plus Global removes through a full support service across industries like health and wellness, apparel, Australian-derived product manufacturing, technology, food and beverage, agriculture, travel and real estate. Visit bartercard.com.au/exportplus for more information.
Fresh produce is equally presenting massive opportunity in the export space - The ‘Amazon of China’ already has supermarkets and is turning to Australian food producers to access its half-a-billion plus customers.
While online megastore Amazon is establishing itself in the Australian retail market, it’s critical to embrace digital. Consumers increasingly expect a wide online selection, convenient mobile payments, competitive prices plus swift and cheap delivery – aspects of the market already nailed by Amazon.
If you aren’t convinced, consider these statistics. Millennials shop via smartphone more than any other group, while 32% of customers compare prices in-store using their mobile. According to Business Insider figures, US in-store mobile payments reached $75 billion in 2016 – and expected to hit $503 billion by 2020.
10 tips to keep retail thriving in a shifting e-commerce era
1. Service: Keep your focus on the customer and personalised service. Amazon’s world is digital, so create a face-to-face experience that makes customers want to come in-store. New season preview nights, where VIP customers are invited in-store to test out stock before it launches to market, is just one way to do this.
2. Get all the details right including market expertise, reliable delivery, a tightly curated range and a customer-friendly returns policy. Have a laser-sharp focus on the finer details and hone your product expertise. These are just the staples of customer service.
3. Customise and cater to your market. Alipay, the world’s largest payment app, has just launched on the Gold Coast where 1.4 million Chinese tourists visit every year. Alipay lets Chinese visitors use their preferred method of payment in their own currency when they shop at local merchants to enhance the customer experience. Customising service instead of a cookie-cutter approach will boost spending, so explore what technology will bring you closer to customers.
4. Identify your point of difference: If you can’t match Amazon’s speed, set yourself apart in the marketplace. Build your brand around your point of difference and know where to capture customers.
5. Local: Elevate your local presence. Contribute in the community and take a collaborative approach to build a brand that resonates with customers.
6. Instant: For those customers who must have it now, retail is still it. We live in a society of instant gratification, so ensure you know who your customers are and what they want.
7. Quality: Where Amazon is price-competitive, focus on quality. The market trend is owning fewer, high quality pieces.
8. Expand your marketplace: A digital strategy is critical in today's marketplace, but Amazon isn't the only solution and you shouldn’t limit your presence to social media. Bartercard members are expanding their customer base through Export Plus, a new initiative breaking businesses into the world’s fastest growing e-commerce market - China. We have partnerships in place with Alibaba.com and Chinese ecommerce marketing specialists to support businesses every step of the way. Visit Export Plus for more information.
9. Jump on! Amazon offers a significant opportunity for small business retailers to sell products through their online marketplace. If you can’t beat them, you might consider joining them!
10. Use Bartercard to supplement your business. Through Bartercard, members buy and sell products and services without using cash. Use ‘trade dollars’ (equivalent to cash dollars) to conserve cash, attract new customers and increase their cash flow.