7 Smart Retailer Investments to Make In 2021

7 Smart Retailer Investments to Make In 2021

Newsflash: 2020 threw a spanner in the works.

For Aussie retail, the pandemic highlighted a lot of the cracks that had been there all along. Gaps in the digital experience, underinvestment in customer service and a distinct lack of strategic innovation, just to name a few of the challenges.

Yet, as the cracks emerged, we saw a miracle plaster job — with many retailers coming out the other side more knowledgeable, prepared and eager in their approach to innovation.

The winners of 2020

With the majority of the country on a first-name basis with the mailman, it should come as no surprise that online shopping was up 72.9% YOY in 2020, according to Australia Post.

Tennis Gear, one of our superstar clients, saw a 328% increase in revenue during their Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend compared to 2019. Yep, you read that right – a 328% increase!

VetShop Australia launched their first omnichannel campaign, introducing influencers and social giveback into the mix. This resulted in a 76% increase YOY and transactions up 67%. They set out with a goal to increase new user traffic by 5%. They SMASHED this, with a 50.5% increase in new user traffic!

Girl having a good time shopping online
All of us shopping this year

That’s Great… But What Does That Mean for Me?

Okay, now that we’ve not-so-humble-bragged about our clients, we’ll let you in on a few secrets we told them throughout 2020.

Step one, don’t buy into the fear-mongering around retail shutting up shop. It’s time to talk about smart investments!

7 Smart Retailer Investments to Make in 2021

Cross-Channel Automation

Investing in automation is a total no brainer. But what is cross-channel automation?

Cross-channel automation is the automation of marketing messages across multiple touch-points; such as social, marketing, SMS, email, advertising, and analytics.

dotdigital’s 2020 “Hitting the Mark” report examined customer engagement tactics of 100 brands worldwide. They found that only 5% of these brands were using SMS notifications, and only 15% had live chat on their website. Talk about severely underutilising omnichannel automation!

The poor adoption rates for omnichannel tactics highlight brands’ indifferences to making customer experience consistent across all channels.

dotdigital: “Hitting the Mark” report
robot dancing happily
How do I feel about cross-channel automation?

Remember our humble brag about some of our clients earlier? Vetshop Australia launched its first omnichannel campaign this year. They saw results such as:

  • Revenue up 76%
  • Transactions up 67%
  • Conversion rates up 16%
  • New user traffic up 50.5%

How did they achieve all of that from just one campaign? By using omnichannel automation! This increased their efficiency, and more importantly, communicated to their customers intuitively.

Where to start with omnichannel automation? Start by mapping your marketing messages across the channels. How can you automate these cross-channel communications for optimum engagement?

Incremental Innovation

What is it? Incremental innovation is a series of small improvements made to a company’s existing products or services.

Let’s cut the corporate-y jargon and get to what it really means. Incremental innovation isn’t about inventing the next ShamWow. And hey, we’re not dismissing bold innovation – if you dream of being the next Elon Musk, don’t let us get in your way!

Not my point! Incremental innovation is about continuous improvement. Constantly pushing the envelope, asking questions, reframing the problem. A little less showy than inventing the world’s first electronic car.

Read: The Science of Innovation

Man saying "Eventually you could turn Mars into an Earth-like planet"
Big ideas or small – both are important to innovatiion.

Think about what you already have in your business that works. Do you do stunning product packaging? Do your customers love your loyalty program? Are your sales team customer service wizards?

Make this already-amazing facet even BETTER! This will make your sales team, your product packing, your loyalty program – whatever area that already shines – more meaningful to the business and to your customer.

And if you’re more interested in those Elon Musk-like innovations – ask yourself, how can you de-risk such a big change? Before changing your whole business model to run on Mars, you need a structure and a reason as to why you’re jetting off on a rocket ship.

So where do you start with incremental innovation?

Well, you’ve come to the right place! We ran an entire event around innovation earlier this year – the Retail HackGames. And we recommended that every player, team and leader work within the Design Thinking model: AKA, our innovation bible. Check it out here.

Customer Experience

“We have our customer experience under control. We have a great customer service team!”

Yep, we’ve heard that before. And we’re here to tell you that having a customer service team does not equal having a customer experience strategy.

Customer Service: the experience a customer has with the Customer Service team

Customer Experience (CX): the entire sum of every interaction a customer has with your business. We’re talking everything from scrolling through your online store to unpacking their delivery, to leaving a review or following you on socials.

Store owner said to customer "It's not hard, Just have to care for customer"
It’s simple!

So just because you have good customer service, does not mean you have good customer experience.

“CX is the art and science of coaxing lifetime loyalty out of daily transactions.”

Steve Curtain

Customer experience is the difference between your customer’s shopping once or becoming loyal for life. Great customer experience captures the hearts, minds and wallets of your customers. It’s the sum of every experience a customer has had with your brand – good or bad.

Invest in your CX and you’ll have supporters for life.

Project Management

Project management is the number one way to increase your efficiency.

Is your team a well-oiled machine? In need of some WD-40, but the mechanics still work? Or are you just a collection of parts strewn across the floor?

Machine doing it's purpose
A perfectly-oiled machine

Either way, good project management is like the grease that keeps the cogs turning smoothly. Investing in project management methods that work for your team will increase your efficiency tenfold.

Here are some strategies to level up your project management skillset:

  • Make the most of your meetings – we’ve all muttered, ‘that meeting could have been an email’ on a Monday morning. So turn that boring meeting into something slick, efficient and worth everyone’s time. Learn how to run a successful meeting here.
  • Have a look at your priorities – how much effort do they require? What’s their overall impact or benefit to your company – really? Can something go on the back burner for now?
  • Start using the KANBAN method – get your to-do’s out of your head and onto the (virtual) page for the rest of your team to see.

Want to really dive in to project management? Check out our Open Classroom session on this very topic here!


Processes and plans work…until they don’t.

Grandpa GIF said to kids "You can't adapt! You'll never live!"
How adaptive are you?

Every team will have wins and losses, but what’s arguably more important than the end result is how well you adapt.

Adaptive teams take the time to get completely aligned about the organisation’s vision, values, and vital priorities, while respecting individual differences of opinion and experience.

BCG, The Five Traits of Highly Adaptive Leadership Teams

An adaptive team = an agile one.

Why is it important to be adaptive? As we wade through uncertain waters, it’s vital that teams can go with the flow and adjust to any situation thrown at them. BCG found that highly adaptive teams consistently out-performed their peers, either just slightly or by a significant margin.

How do we become more adaptive?
Don’t let your team be left in the dust – we know that the most adaptive teams take the time to become aligned. If you want to re-align your team, check out our agile workshops here.


Are you sensing a theme here? Investing in your team is another vital action to take in 2021.

Don’t just jump in and start instructing your staff to do their jobs differently left, right and centre – find out what they want to be trained in.

AGT judge approve or showing thumbs up gestures and people at his back are happily clapping
How you encouraging your team at training

How to do this? With an e-NPS! Or, an Employee Net Promoter Score. The NPS, if you’re not familiar, is a metric that measures the likelihood of customers – or employees – to recommend a company, product or service to their friends and family.

In your eNPS, include a question asking your employees how they would like to undergo training – like online reading, team sessions, FAQ cheat sheets or video resources. This ensures that every employee feels heard and that you’re getting the best out of every staff member.

While some teams in your business might run smoothly, others could have run into hiccups and face knowledge gaps. This brings down overall efficiency – and no one wants that!

Invest in 1st Party Data Policies

I’m throwing it a little left of centre to finish off but stick with me because this one is importnat!

Changes are coming to privacy laws in Australia. Take this as your shoulder-shaking warning.

Don’t be like those unconscious brands in Europe who didn’t think GDPR changes would affect them… Make sure you:

  1. Invest in growing your database
  2. Invest in understanding how to maximise your 1st party data
  3. Invest in understanding how to respect your customer’s data

Some brands take the easy way out by selling that owned customer asset to third parties. They’re going to find it hard to scale as a business because they’re going to have to keep paying third parties for the attention of their customers.


A quick note on the difference between 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data:

  • 1st Party Data: Your audience data collected from the source. Asking for your customers’ name, email, phone number, DOB, etc. when they sign up to your database
  • 2nd Party Data: Someone else’s 1st party data that two or more parties decide to share on a private basis for mutual benefit – no one else can see it
  • 3rd Party Data: collected and aggregated from various sources with no direct connection to the customer whose data it is

Let us be clear – buying identifying data is illegal. Don’t get caught on the wrong side of history with this one. Only use clean data that your customers have given directly to you.

So there you have it. The 7 Smart Retailer Investments to Make In 2021.

And we’re not just talking financial investments here. I’m talking the investment of time and of your team’s brainpower. Don’t go into these investments blindly, but also don’t shy away!

If investing in your talented team is top of your agenda, you need to invest in us. Chat to us about levelling up your team in 2021!

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