Another financial year has come to a close in Australia, but this has been one like no other in living memory – providing threats and opportunities for the future.
In terms of health, even the conservative data from Johns Hopkins reveals over 10 million coronavirus infections worldwide, and 500,000 deaths – with the pandemic certain to be the worst humanitarian disaster since the Second World War. Fortunately, Australia has been spared the full effects of the virus.
In terms of the economy, the world has slumped into recession. In Australia, it contracted by 0.3% in the March quarter, with the Reserve Bank of Australia expecting GDP to fall by 8% for this financial year. This is certain to be the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Fortunately, the Australian economy is doing better than originally feared, though RBA deputy governor Guy Debelle warned yesterday that government and interest rate support will be needed for years to address the financial scars of Covid-19.
In these bleak times, however, changes in behaviour are providing opportunities for businesses. In short, the coronavirus has accelerated the adoption of life online and the use of digital. Here are the top trends that can put a positive spin on a negative 12 months:
Growth in online sales
IBISWorld’s latest analysis for online shopping in Australia reported: “Revenue for the Online Shopping industry is anticipated to rise by 11.1% compared with a previous anticipated 2.4% increase in the current year due to consumers increasingly shifting shopping activity online, including for necessities such as groceries.”
The Playhouse Group’s clients are already seeing significant growth from their online presence in food/grocery, liquor, furniture, fashion, music, entertainment, pharmaceutical, rental and consumer electronics.
This trend accelerated what we had already seen over the past five years, with rapid growth in internet and broadband penetration and consumer faith in eCommerce resulting in an annualised growth of 15.4% over the five years to 2019-20. Currently, over 60,000 businesses contribute to the $29 billion markets.
Working from home
Australia entered lockdown in March, with workers forced to work from home where possible… and we’ve gotten used to it. Saving time on travel, enjoying flexible working hours, and being able to look after children and pets, are just some of the reasons why it’s been embraced and will likely stay with us at least to some extent once the crisis is averted.
Bosses have also discovered how much work can be done outside the office, and that workers can be trusted to do it. This can reduce overheads for your company, and increase the job satisfaction and productivity of the worker.
The Australia Institute estimates that three out of 10 workers in Australia can do their jobs at home. “It is likely that much of the increase in at-home work will become permanent,” said Institute director Jim Stanford, “even after the immediate health emergency passes.”
To facilitate working from home, previously little-known software such as Zoom has now become so ubiquitous grandmothers are even using it to catch up. Between December and April, Zoom’s daily meetings increased from 10 million to 300 million. Microsoft is hosting 200 million meetings a day, while Google Meet is adding over three million new users a day. Slack and Trello have also seen usage increase.
Much like working from home, education also left the classroom and exposed students at all levels to remote possibilities. As we posted at the start of the Australian lockdown, this placed a focus on Learning Management Systems as both educational institutions and businesses implemented their training online.
For The Playhouse Group’s clients, a LMS can deliver employee training, employee orientation, knowledge retention, and general education. The main advantage for business is that employees can access materials when they want, from where they want, and at the pace they want. Additionally, once courses are set up on the platform there is no marginal cost for employees taking them. These factors keep productivity up and cost down.
We have seen that LMS has been used across a lot of different sectors, GP/Health Training to Schools to retailers. And not just for training but for ensuring the right information is accessed and as a repository of policies and procedures.
In a recent media release from Australia’s Department of Health, more than 4.3 million health and medical services have been delivered to a total of more than three million patients through the telehealth Medicare items introduced by the Australian Government for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The telehealth arrangements have been put in place as a measure to ensure safety for patients and practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Integrations and set-up of systems, like Zoom & Billing Systems, to allow our clients to have as seamless as a possible process with their patients is a necessity for telehealth.
The adoption of each of these above trends have fed into and are a result of growing digital literacy. With offline alternatives removed, people have discovered that their online alternatives are often as good if not better, and are cheaper, more flexible, and more accessible. Forced to embrace the technology, for many fear of it has now disappeared.
In addition to using the internet for shopping, work, health and education, it has become central to entertainment and even socialising during the outbreak. Australia’s National Broadcast Network reported a 70-80% increase in data usage on its network from February to March. During this time Netflix doubled its expected growth, adding nearly 16 million new subscribers in the first quarter of 2020 alone. Even the number one album on the Australia Recording Industry Association charts at the moment is Music from the Home Front – a compilation of songs from a virtual concert in April.
This financial year has dealt a blow to nearly all businesses, but during it, we have also seen an acceleration of the move online.
Now is the time to make sure that your business is ready to take advantage of new consumer behaviour to ensure this next financial year is much better than the last.
There are really exciting times ahead with the growth of online and the increasing connections with clients and customers alike.
Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any eCommerce questions you may have.