While online cross-channel commerce grew over 18 percent since the onset of the pandemic, surprisingly, in-store shopping has remained the preferred method for Australian shoppers.
Shifting consumer shopping preferences in the land down under
Looking for a continent full of use cases in shifting consumer preferences? Exit the U.S. heading south, take a right at Hawaii, and stop at Australia—land of retail innovation (and budgerigars). Australia shows how a forceful digital current is carving new contactless payments flows into the commercial rock.
Aussie consumers continue to shop physical retail stores in higher numbers than almost any other market through the pandemic. It’s an intriguing immersion into the erratic retail dynamics and online shopping trends of 2020, , and hints at the future of eCommerce in 2021. Learn more about digital-first trends here.
PYMNTS new Global Digital Shopping Index: Australia Report, a Cybersource collaboration, is based on surveys of 1,900 Australian consumers and close to 600 merchants taken during August-September 2020. Several eye-opening verdicts reveal that Australian consumers’ shopping journeys have “undergone a modest but marked digital shift” since the pandemic’s onset, with more now leaning into wholly online or cross-channel experiences.
A land of shopper confidence and contradictions
That’s what researchers expected to find. But what they didn’t see coming was this:
In-store shopping remains prevalent in Australia
The digital shift in Australia has not been as pronounced as in the United States: “In-store shopping has remained the preferred method for 67.1 percent of consumers there since the pandemic began,” per the Australia Index. Online cross-channel commerce also grew over 18 percent.
Omnichannel and the hybridizing customer experience
With over three-quarters of Australians sticking with in-store shopping throughout 2020—and simultaneously trying out digital-first payments products—it’s clearly a quest for satisfaction.
The Global Digital Shopping Index: Australia concurs, noting that “Satisfaction is driven to a significant extent by the digital features that consumers can access, but two main considerations appear paramount for Australians: value and convenience, or ‘value me’ and ‘make it easy for me’ features.
The features Australian consumers most commonly use include rewards (44.4 percent), product recommendations (35.6 percent), and product details (38.3 percent).”
Online shopping trends 2021: Top merchants offer varied shopping options
Finding that top-performing merchants in Australia offer the most full-bodied digital feature sets—and that more are on the way—PYMNTS Global Digital Shopping Index: Australia Report detects COVID angst at the heart of it, stating that “Australian consumers’ tendency to use contactless cards may correspond to greater adoption of other touchless payment technologies as well: 17.5 percent of Australian consumers say they employ touchless payment methods in addition to contactless cards, whereas 13 percent of Americans say the same.”
Digital-first capabilities that Australian top merchants plan to innovate in the next three years
Payments as a driver of omnichannel experiences
That payments choice is a driver of renewed omnichannel/multichannel shopping experiences that can begin in one’s car and end at curbside or the front steps. This is true in Australia as it is elsewhere, but Aussies take omni to another level, just as they’ve done with payments tech.
“Australians are less averse to going into stores when doing cross-channel shopping. More than one-quarter of Australian digital shoppers use in-store pickup—nearly twice the share of U.S. consumers, who tend to prefer curbside pickup. This may also reflect the reality that curbside pickup is a less developed practice in Australia while in-store pickup, known as 'click and collect,' is gaining traction.”
Older Aussies are down with the digital shift
A curious revelation from the research is that digital-first shopping is moving beyond the young who popularized it, to the young-at-heart who have disposable income but may lack tech savvy.
That’s changing fast now as smartphones and apps get more intuitive with each iteration and connected voice technology leapfrogs conventional web search modalities such as typing.
“Digital technologies are not just being used by younger, technology-centric consumers but also across all demographic categories,” the Index states.
A shift toward digital channels since the pandemic's onset
“Our research shows that 6.3 percent of Australian consumers are digital shifters—they went from wholly in-store shopping before the pandemic to digital channels after. Their average age is 43.6 and they represent all income brackets.” Also notable as part of this: more than 64 percent of Aussie digital shifters are female.
Loyalty rewards motivate shoppers
Another core offering—loyalty rewards—motivates Australians to undertake more shopping journeys and spend more when they do, per the research. And loyalty is not something merchants or brands can afford to get wrong in a make-or-break time like this.
“The unique characteristics of Australian consumers come into clearer view when we examine the features they regard as most important. Rewards top the list by a wide margin, with 20.3 percent citing it, and next is free shipping for digital orders at 10.2 percent,” the Index states, adding, “This contrasts with U.S. consumers, for whom free shipping is the most important digital feature, and reinforces the theme that consumers in Australia are not only looking for digital features that allow them to avoid in-store shopping, but for those that can make the experience more satisfying and rewarding.”
Also: Be sure to check out the U.S. Global Shopping Index, based on surveys of more than 2,170 U.S. consumers and 500 U.S. merchants.