6 Ways COVID-19 Has Changed Shopping and Retailing in Australia

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Australian consumers’ shopping habits have changed considerably in response to COVID-19. The following are 6 of the most prominent ways shopping and retailing have changed in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis:

1.   Senior Citizens Have Been Shown More Consideration

Sizable numbers of Australian retailers have taken great care to protect their elderly customers from exposure to COVID-19. Many have initiated hours when the general public isn’t admitted to shop and seniors are the only customers allowed in the store. Many have also implemented contactless home delivery for seniors or curbside delivery services.

2.   Online Ordering Has Increased

Many risk-averse Australians, in hopes of avoiding exposure to the virus, have moved away from in-person shopping. Instead, they have shifted their buying online.

3.   There’s an Increased Emphasis on Store Cleanliness and Sanitation

Retailers who are open to the public have had to increase their efforts to ensure that both employees and customers practice good hygiene. They’ve taken steps to increase access to hand sanitisers. They’ve also stepped up their efforts to ensure their stores are tidy and sanitary.

4.   Retailers Are Automating the Hiring Process

In response to COVID-19, some retailers have enjoyed a greatly increased amount of demand for their products and services. These particularly include sellers of groceries, masks and sanitation supplies.

Simultaneously, some have also had challenges in keeping their stores fully staffed as employees call in sick or ask to work from home.

To meet these demands, many retailers have had to ramp up their hiring, which has proven to be challenging.

RetailBiz reports that automation has helped some retailers, including Coles, to quickly scale up their hiring process. One of their top strategies is to automate the recruiting process at the application stage. Hiring managers are being more proactive about screening out unqualified candidates by asking questions to determine whether applicants meet the most fundamental criteria for the role.

The basic qualifications haven’t changed; many retail employers are looking for candidates who have successfully completed suitable retail courses or have prior retail work experience. However, Retailbiz reports that lately, some retailers are also putting a growing emphasis on their candidates’ capacity to deliver outstanding customer service. They are paying particular attention to applicants’ abilities to communicate, have patience and show empathy for others. All these traits have been increasingly beneficial for retail employees since COVID-19 has disrupted the status quo.

5.   Retailers Are Closing Many of Their Physical Stores

Even before COVID-19 became a significant issue, multiple countries around the world, including Australia, were facing a retail apocalypse characterised by numerous retail store closures. In the aftermath of COVID-19, this phenomenon has been accelerating. Many more stores have been closing since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. This has further hastened the rush to online shopping and has also forced even more change in some Australian consumers’ shopping habits.

6.   Safer Shopping Technology Is Emerging

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Vicinity Centres have recently made a substantial investment in technologies intended to make shopping at their locations safer. One of these is heat mapping, which is designed to reduce the levels of traffic congestion in physical stores. Others include digital shopping queues and contactless concierge systems.

These are some of the most important ways that retailing has changed in Australia in response to COVID-19. Experts have been speculating about whether or not these changes will be permanent. Although it remains to be seen, the consensus is that these trends will probably not reverse themselves immediately – so it may be beneficial to consider adapting your shopping habits and expectations accordingly.

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  1. Cec is the managing editor of KBB. She is a multimedia professional with 20 years experience as an editor on titles as diverse as SX, CULT, Better Pictures, Total Rock, MTV, fasterlouder, mynikonlife and Fantastic Living. She has extensive experience working as a news journalist covering all the issues that matter in the political, health and LGBTIQ arena. She is the Head of Content at Pinstripe Media and a recent convert to the world of small business.

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