The Kiwi retail sector could be the next big market for digital services and the partners that provide them, with a new report suggesting that the pandemic has accelerated e-commerce trends in the country.
The report, from professional services firm Accenture, suggests that retailers should expect to see new shopping behaviours from customers in the lead-up to this year’s December holiday season.
With more shoppers using online channels, Accenture suggested that Kiwi retailers will need to reassess their e-commerce platforms and begin integrating immersive digital experiences to win over customers.
“The global pandemic accelerated e-commerce trends,” Accenture New Zealand managing director Ben Morgan said. “Kiwis began shopping online out of necessity, and businesses had to act quickly to bring their digital offerings online or be left behind.
“Kiwis’ consumer habits are changing and we are expecting to see a marked increase in online shopping this holiday season.
“Lockdown left many businesses scrambling to get e-commerce platforms up and running. This holiday season those investments are set to pay dividends, but retailers should be preparing for more disruption in the future,” he added.
Indeed, the Accenture data shows that over 80 per cent of consumers were likely to maintain their increased use of in-app ordering and home delivery services after the coronavirus outbreak.
More broadly, Accenture found that 64 per cent of the world’s leading consumer brands are starting to invest in immersive experiences.
“New technologies such as augmented reality, 360-degree video, and virtual reality are already being used by the world’s leading brands to entice and excite customers,” Morgan said. “Fashion retailers such as Adidas and ASOS are using augmented reality for customers to virtually try on products and visualise how they will look in multiple settings.
“Kiwi retailers need to reimagine their e-commerce offerings to be successful in the years to come. It is time for retailers to stop treating their e-commerce platforms as digital catalogues. Customers are demanding better,” he added.
According to Morgan, immersive technology tends to resonate with consumers, seeing them engage with products in a way that is more personal than the traditional approach to e-commerce platforms.
“These technologies were initially expensive novelties,” he said. “Now, they are much more affordable, and their widespread adoption is being seen as the next step in the evolution of e-commerce.”
The findings come several months after the New Zealand government said it would set aside $10 million in funding to support small businesses to improve their e-commerce service offerings, as part of the nation’s 2020 Budget, along with incentives and grants to encourage e-commerce adoption.
Minister of Finance Grant Robertson said in May, when the Budget was handed down, that the government would also provide further support for business advice, the e-invoicing project, Business Connect and the Better For Business programme.