The retail sector has undergone an upheaval during the pandemic, with a dramatic shift in shopping behaviours online and in-store. That’s been exacerbated by the latest lockdowns with retailers having to endure even further operational and economic uncertainty.
According to the CommBank Consumer Insights Report May 2021, the experiences during the pandemic last year greatly impacted how consumers think, act and shop. Aside from many consumers spending cautiously, the research revealed that 91 per cent of people increased their digital activities. A sense of connection to family and the community also came into sharper focus.
Purebaby Founder and Creative Director, Mirabai Winford, has witnessed first-hand the significant shift in customer preferences. Mirabai says it is a fascinating yet uncertain time for retailers, with Purebaby experiencing breakout growth while navigating store closures, ongoing restrictions and shifting customer expectations.
A rush on essential items
Mirabai explains that part of Purebaby’s growth during the pandemic was due to its segment. She says customers, especially expecting parents, have been worried about access to essential clothing items like grow suits, singlets and wraps.
“Babies continue to be born through the pandemic, and they also continue to grow. And while you might be able to curb spending on your own clothing, babies can move up five sizes in a year and still need clothing.
“We saw an initial big rush just like the supermarkets. Then we saw a focus on value, and essential items and sales of our essentials range grew by more than eight times, while dressier styles saw a decline given customers didn’t have occasions to wear them.”
The holistic shift to digital
Of the many major shifts, Mirabai says that increased online shopping is one of the most impactful, noting that a Purebaby customer survey revealed that the preference and willingness to shop online had risen by 20 per cent compared to last year.
The CommBank Consumer Insights Report showed a similar rise in the preference for online channels among clothing and footwear shoppers. However, it also revealed that bricks and mortar stores remain the overwhelming channel of choice across categories.
Purebaby had launched a new, highly functional website in September 2019, built to enhance the customer experience. This was something Mirabai credits for the business’s ongoing ability to adapt to an influx of demand as its customer base doubled.
“What’s interesting is that with consumers spending more time on devices, the significant touchpoints of brand discovery, validation and engagement have all become more digital too.”
According to Mirabai, as well as focusing on its e-commerce capability, Purebaby responded by quickly increasing online access to its educational content, shifting sessions online.
“There was a lot of anxiety from parents who were unable to access hospital classes, so we held fantastic online nesting workshops for parents. In addition, we launched a podcast and brought in external experts on topics from birth to feeding and continue to do that today.
“We pivoted to a digital-first strategy for all our content and built brand trust, and increased customer engagement. Our aim now is to provide all that information to parents or caregivers digitally so they can trust that they are buying from an authority on babywear and all things baby related.”
The way in which the business has evolved during the pandemic has positioned Purebaby well for the future, with Mirabai emphasising that optimisation of the omnichannel experience, using data-driven strategies, and the importance of remaining nimble. “Our focus will remain on trying to operate like a new business every day while embedding a digital-first mindset,” Mirabai adds.
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Things you should know:
The Consumer Insights report has been published for general information purposes only. As this information has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances and, if necessary seek professional advice.
The Bank believes that the information in the report is correct and any opinions, conclusions or recommendations are reasonably held or made, based on the information available at the time of its compilation, but no representation or warranty, either expressed or implied, is made or provided as to accuracy, reliability or completeness of any statement made in the report. Any projections and forecasts are based on a number of assumptions and estimates and are subject to contingencies and uncertainties. Different assumptions and estimates could result in materially different results. The report refers to data sourced from an online survey of 5656 consumers. The survey was undertaken by ACA Research on behalf of the Commonwealth Bank. All analysis and views of future market conditions are solely those of the Commonwealth Bank.
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