Offer the ‘experience’.

Online ordering is now common place but the view of the customer is very different to what it was a few years ago, according to Commonwealth Bank of Australia executive director, technology and retail, Bruce Begbie.

At an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney moderated by Begbie, the future of retail was discussed by a panel that included eBay managing director, Tim MacKinnon, Woolworths Food Group director of loyalty and data, Ingrid Maes and Qantas Loyalty head of retail products, Janet Bailey.

Begbie said with a younger generation of spenders coming onto the market it was important to know how they engage and how they shop. “Artificial Intelligence and shared learning is on the rise and consumers are spending more than ever so it is critical to engage with these new consumers in a changing environment and to succeed in a market of increasing completion and increasing sophistication.”

When it comes to the future of retail the big takeaway for eBay is not just about delivering a great product selection but also the experience. “Giving them a journey they did not expect,” MacKinnon said. “While eBay for the most part has focused on selection, it is not enough to be the site that has everything you have to offer the experience.” He said the online retailer has fundamentally changed its selection strategy.

L to R: eBay managing director, Tim MacKinnon; Woolworths Food Group director of loyalty and data, Ingrid Maes; Qantas Loyalty head of retail products, Janet Bailey; King Furniture CEO, Anna Carrabs and CBA executive director, technology and retail, Bruce Begbie.

“In the past 12 months, 64% of Australians have purchased on eBay and now 90% of what we sell is new.” eBay has over two million items with a guaranteed delivery within three days and recently launch eBay Plus with free returns and free shipping. He also gave the audience a preview of what was to come with a marketing initiative that will invite consumers to reveal their interests. “When you ask a million consumers about their car it will give you some idea of what auto parts they might be looking for.”

The importance of trust and loyalty was also raised by MacKinnon. “There is a time between point of purchase and before delivery when the consumer goes into a ‘funk’ and starts to loose trust, so notifying and reassuring the consumer on tracking and delivery is essential at every point of the purchase journey,” he said. And getting the customer to a third purchase seems to ensure loyalty.  “You need to place your focus on the new customer in order to achieve this.”

According to Maes whether customers shop online or in-store it comes down to personal engagement, “Giving the customers what they want, when they want it, where they want it, at a price they are prepared to pay. Shaping your organisation around the needs of your customers and getting the customer experience right, particularly as price competitiveness increases,” she said.

For Qantas it was about, “Knowing your customer, making the journey easier and faster and building trust in your brand,” Bailey said.

The strength of online retailing is gathering momentum with Australia sitting in tenth position for e-commerce sales worldwide and global e-commerce sales predicted to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021.