Thursday, 17 September 2020 05:59

Unified commerce-ready businesses gained during pandemic: study

Unified commerce-ready businesses gained during pandemic: study Pixabay

Australian businesses that were selling across multiple channels prior to the pandemic offset whatever sales they would have lost due to closure of bricks-and-mortar stores during the coronavirus outbreak, with those that were unprepared during a period when the economy as a whole lost about $7.3 billion, a study claims.

Data released by Adyen, a global payments platform, showed that of traders who had adopted a unified commerce approach about half were able to offset sales lost from physical store closures through increases on other channels.

Adyen also claimed that people who only bought from a physical outlet prior to the advent of COVID-19 spent an average of 40% more when they switched to an online channel.

The full study, which was commissioned by Adyen and carried out by the UK economic consultancy, Centre for Economic and Business Research, will be released next month.

Unified commerce was defined as: "One single platform to manage all customer communications, allowing merchants to create one consistent experience across channels and devices – from customer interface, right through to backend technology. Which means instead of having multiple interfaces, you now need to manage only one platform – simplifying and unifying the shopping and buying experience."

The study found that in July the amount of spending by Australians in online channels was 9.7% of the total, compared to 6.6% prior to the onset of the pandemic.

Australia was ranked as the 10th most prepared for unified commerce, based on the UNCTAD B2C E-commerce Index 2019, ahead of the US and Hong Kong, but behind Singapore, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Taking the level of lockdowns in different countries into account, the study found that a five-point increase in the UNCTAD index equated to a 2.6% improvement in retail performance during the pandemic. Based on a subset of 14 countries, the study claimed that this was equal to a $515.2 billion increase in turnover, with Australia's share being $7.3 billion.

But the study also showed that there was still plenty of life left in physical stores, with consumer research conducted by market research consultancy Opinium as part of Adyen's study, showing that once the pandemice ended, 72% of Australians would prefer to go to a physical store and shop. Globally, this figure was 58%.

Adyen chief commercial officer Roelant Prins said: "Consumers don't want to be boxed in; they want to shop in a way that works for them – and this might change depending on where they are, how they feel or many other factors.

"The retailers prepared to cater to today's consumers were the ones that won out through the first wave of the pandemic. They were the ones agile enough to cope with the constantly changing environment, and had the infrastructure in place to continue meeting consumer demands throughout this period.

"While something as seismic as the coronavirus pandemic may only occur once in a lifetime, the retail sector has been consistently shaken by digitalisation and changing consumer habits. If it's to survive further shifts, which will inevitably come, retailers need to make sure they're ready – and adopting a holistic approach to unified commerce will be key to this."

Adyen's country manager for Australia and New Zealand, Michel van Aalten, said: "COVID-19 has shaken Australia's retail sector to its core, with consumers prioritising shopping closer to home, with those who provide a better experience, or that can be trusted to stock certain goods.

"Many retailers have impressed Australians by adapting their operations and offering shoppers more flexibility across this period. Consumers want to see this agility continue and are looking for seamlessness between online and offline stores. Unified commerce will help retailers navigate this changing environment and excel in this next normal."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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