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Unified commerce: A AU$44 billion retail opportunity

Australia's unified commerce opportunity is now worth AU$44 billion, according to research from the Australia Retail Report 2023. Here’s how leading retailers are making the most of it – and how you can, too.

6 November, 2023
 ·  7 minutes

Over the past few years, Australian consumers and businesses have continued to react and adapt to a steady stream of challenges, from a rising cost of living to lingering supply-chain issues. In the face of subdued growth and an increasingly price-conscious market, leaders are looking to streamline operations, reduce costs, and capture loyalty to sustain their business. 

But, in a crowded market, business ambitions go beyond simply reacting to the current economic conditions. Instead, forward-thinking retailers are taking  further with unified commerce — deepening their digital capabilities to uncover both quick wins and long-term growth opportunities.

In fact, data from our 2023 Retail Report shows that retailers who used unified commerce in 2022 saw a 7 percentage point revenue boost over those who did not. Our research also shows an estimated $30 billion increase to the Australian retail sector if more retailers adopt unified commerce solutions. So where is this growth coming from, and how can you take advantage?

Digital transformation powered by unified commerce

For anyone dealing with legacy systems, multiple sales channels, and a patchwork of third-party providers, you’ll know that digital transformation is typically easier said than done. But herein lies the strength of unified commerce. By consolidating detached payments systems via a single platform, unified commerce stands to solve a host of challenges facing enterprise businesses in their digital transformations. 

Where omnichannel businesses deliver great cross-channel experiences to their customers, their systems are often unconnected behind the scenes. Unified commerce gives businesses a single view of inventory, customers, and payments. This allows retailers to gain the control and flexibility needed to anticipate and exceed customer expectations – no matter which sales channel (online, in-person, or in-app) customers want to shop in.

Unified commerce, in action

Let's break down how Australian retailers can leverage unified commerce to drive strategic growth and build seamless and consistent customer journeys:

Countering consumer caution with flexibility and customisation

Australian consumers are becoming more value-driven, spending more time online and in stores to find the best deals. Our research shows that 31% of Australian shoppers opt to wait for big-ticket sale events, such as Black Friday, Boxing Day, or Click Frenzy, for added discounts.

Changing perceptions of the ideal shopping experience is also impacting consumer behaviour. More than half of Australian shoppers (62%) are prepared to leave a store or abandon their online shopping cart if they can't check out using their preferred payment method. 59% of Australian businesses also reported seeing an increase in customer expectations. Despite this, almost half of businesses (42%) don't have a system to reward loyalty, with as many as 71% of retailers not using a customer relationship management (CRM) system to better understand and connect with their consumers.

Although it may be difficult to launch new initiatives, finding new ways to improve loyalty and customer relationship programs, even incrementally, can have long-lasting benefits. With unified commerce, retailers can uncover what shoppers are looking for, when and where they want to get it, and how they prefer to pay for it. This enables businesses to facilitate a more personalised shopping experience – something that 43% of consumers in Australia want from businesses they regularly shop with.

Merging online and offline experiences

Seamlessness matters to Australian shoppers. 40% are more loyal to retailers that let them shop across sales channels, such as by "showrooming" (browsing in store and completing the purchase online) or the reverse, "webrooming". 63% of consumers in Australia would also be more loyal to retailers that let them buy out-of-stock items in store for home delivery later. In-store shopping is also evolving, with options like self-checkout kiosks and mobile payment devices helping to reduce queues and elevate customer experiences. 

Businesses continuing to use separate platforms to facilitate online and offline shopping will increasingly notice friction in the customer experience. This is why creating a truly unified shopping experience that helps customers easily transact across online and offline sales channels is more important than before.

As brands continue to incorporate technology into different parts of their business, it's increasingly important that these systems work together without introducing new vulnerabilities or points of failure. The good news is that seamless connections across different frontend and backend systems are possible with unified commerce.

Exploring new territories

As cross-border commerce makes a comeback following the pandemic, Australian retailers are successfully tapping into nearby markets for growth. Over half of businesses (52%) surveyed say they are already doing better thanks to their international expansions, while 39% of retailers are looking to follow suit by selling their products online and 28% are looking to expand via physical stores to other markets.

However, the customer journey must be as seamless and cost-effective as possible for these investments to pay off. For example, 31% of consumers globally will only buy from overseas retailers if the delivery costs are reasonable – Australian businesses should ensure that they are not missing out on these potential sales conversions. Providing common or international payment methods is also critical to many shoppers, but less than a quarter of retailers in Australia do so.

There’s definitely room for improvement, but the upside is that there’s room to grow for those who make the effort. 19% of consumers worldwide have shopped from an overseas retailer in the past six months and can be especially motivated to do so if they can't find a product in their home market.

Nonetheless, doing business overseas means dealing with new complexities like local payment methods, currency conversions, and regulatory requirements. Working with an experienced global payments partner like Adyen can streamline expansion across multiple markets.

Taking a unified approach to commerce

In Australia, over 15% of enterprises struggle with silos and are moving to address the problem. Our research shows that over 68% of businesses surveyed are either beginning to invest or considering investing in unified commerce to stay ahead of the competitive retail landscape.

Brands that act fast to personalise their services and merge fragmented systems to offer a better customer experience will find themselves in a solid position to make the most of the emerging global growth opportunities.

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