Grab the tinsel: It’s time for Aussie retailers to deliver some festive joy

By Facebook director of retail Kate Box | Sponsored
Kate Box

With Christmas around the corner, digital shopfronts are providing people with plenty of gifting inspiration. Facebook’s Director of Retail, Kate Box, believes retailers who tap into the key trends of 2021 can set themselves up for a great end to the year.

Anyone else looking forward to Christmas as much as I am?

It goes without saying that it’s been a tough year, and with freedom only recently restored, it feels like we are coming blinking out of our homes into the light after a long haul.

Some positive vibes are certainly what we all need right now. And in the lead up to the festive season, with holidays on our minds, spreading some joy seems like an appropriate way to end the year.

Digital Evolves from Functional to Fabulous!

If you’re in the retail business, then you’re perfectly placed to deliver joyful experiences to receptive Aussies this Christmas. One way to do this is via what I like to call ‘Shoppertainment’.

By this I refer to the sense of joy and community that we get from a visit to the shops with friends. Historically, this came through the physical experience of visiting shops. But over the last 18 months, with our mobility restricted, savvy retailers have been bringing these experiences to people online.

And in the lead up to Christmas, more and more businesses are bringing the fun of shopping to digital realms in clever and innovative ways. We’re already seeing it through things like customer polling, virtual try-ons or entertaining interactions with brand ambassadors.

Retailers are also surprising and delighting customers by intuitively serving up products that they love - even before they’d even considered them. Research backs this up with some 64% of Aussie shoppers agreeing that ‘I enjoy discovering items that I wasn’t actively looking for’1.

It’s something I call ‘Discovery Commerce’ and it’s especially relevant to self-gifters - the people who want to treat themselves to something nice as the year wraps up. So if your business isn’t yet thinking about how to offer these experiences, now is certainly the time as Christmas shopping season gets into full swing.

It’s (still) online time

Of course, the end of lockdowns across Australia have spurred people back to the mall or department stores for their Christmas shopping. Ongoing concerns about coronavirus, however, seem likely to keep a greater number of people at home than in years past.

But any hesitancy aside, I’m predicting more people will be doing their Christmas shopping online regardless in 2021. This is simply because human behaviour revolves around habits.

Much as the supermarket transformed the shopping experience in the 20th century, the effects of the pandemic have motivated us to solve life’s challenges online. Often, doing so comes down to a simple matter of convenience and getting time back in our lives.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably become addicted to the convenience of your grocery shopping arriving at your front door every week. Or sighing with relief as your Uber Eats dinnertime salvation arrives after hours of endless video conferences and home school drama.

Research from Roy Morgan in September shines a light on these habits we are forming. More than half of Aussie respondents surveyed who were planning on buying Christmas gifts say they are making either ‘Considerably more purchases online’ (14%) or ‘More purchases online’ (44%) this year2. Clearly, the at-home Christmas shopper is in the ascendancy.

There’s more too. The research reveals an average of 48% of all Christmas shopping is set to be done online this year. And some 59% of recipients said they plan to do between half and all their shopping online3. Make no mistake, an online avalanche is coming.

What does it mean for retail business?

We now know that optimising your online shopping experiences is a key consideration - especially in light of the habits we’ve collectively formed since early 2020.

The real trick is how we think about both the online and offline landscapes. After all, 89% of in-store shoppers in Australia made a purchase in-store after finding or discovering the item on social media4.

We need to look past the notion that online is only about convenience and that offline is about experiencesBusinesses would be well advised to consider flipping traditional thinking and looking at how they can bring the convenience of online in-store and the fun-filled discovery experience of in-store to their digital shopfront.

Getting the digital shopfront experience right positions retailers to win - and there is a lot to play for. I’ll leave you with a few final morsels from Roy Morgan. Some 15.3 million Aussies are expected to shell out $726 each on Christmas gifts this year. That’s $11.1 billion of festive cheer5. And who can blame anyone for embracing their inner Santa after the year we’ve had?

With vastly greater numbers of people shopping online, now is the time to think about how to make the experience more than a simple transaction.

Providing a seamless experience has been essential for years now. But offering something genuinely fun? That’s the new frontier. Those who are doing this will be the beneficiaries of the new muscle memory we’ve all built.


  1. Facebook Seasonal Holidays Study" by YouGov (Facebook-commissioned online study of 49,563 people aged 18+ across 32 markets:Minimum N=1500 per market. 9 Dec to 24 Dec 2020
  2. ARA-Roy Morgan Snap SMS (cross-section of 3,162 Australians aged 18+ on Wednesday September 1 - Thursday 4, 2021)
  3. ARA-Roy Morgan Snap SMS (cross-section of 3,162 Australians aged 18+ on Wednesday September 1 - Thursday 4, 2021)
  4. Transformation of the In-Store Experience” Study by HarrisX (Meta-commissioned online survey of 3,977 retail shoppers, ages 18+, in Australia), Aug–Sep 2021
  5. ARA-Roy Morgan Snap SMS (cross-section of 3,162 Australians aged 18+ on Wednesday September 1 - Thursday 4, 2021)

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