Two new commerce reports from Square, a software, payments and hardware solution for businesses, indicate Canadian businesses are looking for new ways to reach customers and transform businesses.
Square commissioned Wakefield Research to survey retailers, restaurateurs and consumers in Canada, and found that several of the business tactics established through the pandemic are here to stay and are evolving.
For retailers, the most notable change is the move to more omnichannel selling, particularly through social media. According to the Future of Retail Report, 57 per cent of Canadian consumers surveyed said they are interested in trying newer ways of shopping, like buying directly through social media, virtual reality, or livestream shopping.
This strategy is being welcomed by retailers. Almost all of the Canadian retailers who offer online shopping also sell their products directly through at least one social media platform. For example, some have already enabled selling on Instagram and Twitter.
In addition, the Square report reveals that Canadian retailers demonstrate an interest in using other newer ways of selling as well, including livestream shopping and window shopping using QR codes on storefronts to make purchases. Fifty-three per cent of retailers showed an interest in selling via virtual reality technology to allow customers to experience products in a virtual shop.
And it’s not just retailers who are embracing change with technology. Canadian restaurateurs are also looking at technology to expand their business.
The Future of Restaurants Report revealed that 96 per cent of restaurant owners and managers say they will be continuing at least one of their pandemic initiatives, such as offering online cooking classes or selling meal and cocktail kits.
As restrictions ease, orders are coming in online and in-person, so restaurants are prioritizing their back-of-house management tools. Ninety-nine per cent of restaurants agree that increased automation for back-of-house operations would allow staff to focus on more important tasks.
The retail and restaurant industry have both been impacted by the Great Resignation; 85 per cent of restaurants are experiencing labour shortages and 48 per cent of retailers are struggling to attract staff and keep existing staff. For retail, the concern is even more pronounced amongst larger retailers with multiple locations, and with locations with over 10 employees.
However, both reports say that technology and automation will help solve some of the issues caused by labour shortages.
More than half of surveyed restaurant owners say that automation would fill critical gaps in managing online orders. Restaurants also say that automation of inventory control would help fill critical business gaps, and 93 per cent of retailers plan to use automation to help with inventory counting, for example. This way, staff can spend less time on hands-on tasks and focus on customers.