Will the ‘gold rush’ for retailers continue?

When travel services became limited across the globe, consumers redirected their spend on retail goods, causing a ‘gold rush’ for many retailers.

According to statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020 was the best year for retail sales on record.

“A downturn in retailers’ turnover after the record-highs of last year is inevitable,” says PhD candidate from the University’s Institute of Transport & Logistics Studies, Gareth Jude in a new book called Retail Innovation Reframed.

“But if the sector wants to survive and thrive it needs to ensure it is equipped to adapt to post Covid-19 trading conditions.”

The book co-authored by Andrew Smith will be launched at the Australian Retailers Association Leaders Forum today.

CEO of Australian Retailers Association Paul Zahra says, “If your business needs to change or if you serve a retail business that is having difficulty with the process of innovation, I commend this book to you.”

Case study

The book draws on case studies from business large and small from Walmart and Target in the US to a Sydney-based retailer of vegan and gluten-free donuts, cakes and treats called Nutie.

Nutie had two retail outlets and an events business pre-Covid restriction.

Day one of lockdown, owners had to shut the events arm of the business and also organise home deliveries for the first time, which resulted in orders from customers all over NSW making purchases.

As ordering patterns developed, they created a schedule to deliver products regularly to pick up points throughout inner Sydney as well as other locations.

By getting customers to pick up from their van they avoided the high cost and complexity of direct to home food delivery.

Mr Jude adds, “By some estimates the coronavirus pandemic drove ten years of digital innovation in 10 months, and many retailers are asking can the pace of change continue?

“The biggest challenge facing the retail industry isn’t the economy, the so-called new consumer, technology or COVID-19 but rather how equipped they are to tackle innovation. There’s a real danger that retailers will revert back to ‘business as usual’ as restrictions ease. But this would almost guarantee negative business consequences.”

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