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3 Consumer Trends Driving Retail Success

3 min read
retail success

In Silicon Valley, ambitious start-ups, talk about the ‘playbook’ – it’s a mix between a business plan and an operation’s manual. Alongside procedures and cultural values, there is a plan for success. So, what would the playbook of an Australian retailer who is a small-to-medium enterprise, or SME, look like? What should aspirational small businesses that are keen to grow beyond one store, one city, and even one country, be thinking about?

If you’re an SME retailer, understanding the major consumer trends in retail today will help inform your playbook. There are three in particular that are worth taking note of – convenience, personalisation and globalisation. What do these consumer trends mean and how can you harness them for success?


Consumers want it fast, want it simple, and want it easy. That means seamless shopping experiences, whether in-store or online, and digital is the key enabler of this top consumer trend.

A great example of convenience is Pizza Express, a UK-based Quick Serve Restaurant with over 470 restaurants across Britain and the European Union. The company’s consumer research showed that the checkout process at the table was awkward and time-consuming. To solve the challenge, Pizza Express worked with Visa and technology partner Flyt on a tableside app that combined the loyalty programme with a seamless checkout experience. Once the meal was completed the customer opened the app, entered the table number and then reviewed and paid the bill. One-click is all it took – watch how they made it happen here.

SME Playbook tip: If nine out of ten people carry their mobile with them at all times, what can you do – and what companies can you partner with – to create a more seamless customer experience?


Customers are no longer happy with retailers just showing them what’s on offer – they want you to make suggestions for them based on what you know about them. A study by Accenture showed 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognise, remember and provide relevant offers and recommendations.

When it comes to understanding personalisation, an important consumer trend, there are some key takeaways, first of which is that it’s all about data. You need to be thoughtful about your data strategy, ask key questions and ensure you understand the regulations

around data use and protecting customer information. Do you have enough data from your customers? What other partners and platforms can you partner with to have more access?

You also need to be willing to experiment. Getting this right is complicated. It takes a lot of time and testing. Don’t wait for things to be perfect, find ways to pilot, learn, and iterate. Leverage players like Visa as your sandbox. Lastly, use AI to augment, not replace, human empathy. Equations are not enough to win over customers.

SME Playbook tip: Data-powered retail has arrived, and you may be falling behind if you don’t have a data strategy. If you’re unsure how to get started, talk to the people who support your business, for example, your payments provider.


To understand globalisation, the stats are critical. One in four people have shopped internationally – either physically or via e-commerce, and the latter is growing up to 25% annually2. So, it’s a consumer trend that is absolutely worth paying attention to.

When it comes to globalisation, it’s essential to know your customer so that you can create familiar experiences. It is expensive to acquire and retain customers, especially when it comes to cross border commerce, so seamless interactions are key. The top of that list of considerations has to be an easy and secure payment experience.

SME Playbook tip: Ensure your customers’ data is secure across borders. At Visa, tokenisation is one of the many tools we use in partnership with retailers to drive higher authentication and security for global spenders.

Finally, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the offers and implications of new technology. But the best advice when considering these consumer trends for your SME playbook is this: don’t think about chasing the tech, think about how you will chase the consumer.


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