Top 10 Business Trends in Australia in the Post-COVID World

Top 10 Business Trends in Australia in the Post-COVID World

If you had a dollar for everytime you’ve heard the term “New Normal” you’d have enough money to retire. But the truth is, there’s a new landscape for your business to operate in, and we’ll show you how to make the most of it.

While the buzzword “New Normal” has become common when talking about the COVID-19 pandemic, it does speak to a more general truth - the business landscape has changed.

While some of these changes will revert as the world adjusts to this “New Normal” (that’s another dollar for you), there are an equal amount of business trends that are here to stay.

Whether you operate a franchise, run your own business, or you’re thinking about becoming a business owner, staying on top of the following trends can help give you a competitive advantage in the post-COVID landscape.

#1. Empathy-built relationships

No matter what industry you operate in, your customers prefer to buy from people, not businesses.

That’s why 93% of Australians would trust a business, buy more, and/or recommend it to friends and family if it demonstrated empathy towards its customers and community.


Because customers want to feel like you understand their needs. People care about whether you can provide the right solutions and view them as people (not profits).

Empathy isn’t about finding ways to “trick” customers into a purchase, but understanding their needs. And it’s empathy that’s required to understand:

-    How customers receive your message

-    How customers want to be communicated with

-    How customer needs are being met.

Through 2021 and beyond, expect a push toward more authentic representations online and social media. For example, empathy doesn’t come from a curated social media feed, it stems from real, behind-the-scenes insights from your business.

How to embrace this business trend...

In short, don’t sit on the fence. Empathy is about understanding your audience and meeting their needs. When it comes to your online presence, be raw and transparent with customers, instead of generic and bland.

2. Locally-driven shoppers

Small businesses are crucial to the Australian economy, and the community — not just for the jobs they provide, but as a backbone of local organisations and events. 

Research shows 70% of people want to support more local businesses online, but feel their favourite businesses have a limited online presence.

As shoppers continue to look for local products and services online, expect the most successful businesses and franchises to find ways to improve their local presence across multiple touchpoints.

How to embrace this business trend…

Find ways to put your business in front of local customers, both online and in-person. Don’t discount the value of real-world activities like hosting a local event, getting involved in charity, internship opportunities, or sponsoring local teams or charities.

3. Digital-first businesses

Thanks to COVID-19, your customers will be moving online. This movement online was due to the pandemic, but customers are likely to remain online in many ways moving forward.

What’s the takeaway here?

Make sure YOUR business gets online. 

This could mean starting (and maintaining) a business Facebook Page, optimising your Google My Business (GMB) listing, or updating your website to improve usability.

Ultimately, you want to be available to your local market, wherever they go searching for you.

How to embrace this business trend…

Build an online presence that’s relevant and engaging to your particular market - not an online presence built on vanity metrics (like follower count or how flashy your website looks). You’ll want to stay inside your budget, but consider your website as a starting point. 

For example, if you run an eCommerce business, look for convenient shopping solutions. If you run a service-based business, promote quality content and a clear social media strategy.

4. Shift to local shopping

In 2020, there were a range of reasons for customers to think locally rather than globally - none more so than COVID-19.

The pandemic disrupted international supply chains, and made it increasingly challenging to move products around the world at the speed (or cost) that was once possible.

Companies began to rethink where they were sourcing and selling their goods because international turmoil could disrupt business, and consumers began to look for local companies who could provide the goods and services they wanted.

Going forward, customers will want to shop local and feel confident knowing their purchases don’t hang on decisions made on the other side of the world.

How to embrace this business trend…

Rethink where you’re sourcing goods from. Localised manufacturing and selling are more appealing to customers, not just because they may offer advantages in speed, but the appeal for ‘Australian-Made’ remains high.

5. Part-time and flexible work arrangements

Businesses have seen first-hand that working from home doesn’t necessarily mean reduced productivity.

In fact, remote work can promote increased output and satisfaction with studies showing 77% of employees believe they’re more productive working from home.

While offices will remain a crucial aspect of professional life, expect the post-COVID world to retain flexible working and work-from-home arrangements.

How to embrace this business trend…

Utilise technology to maintain communication without sacrificing efficiency. For example, use video conferencing instead of face-to-face meetings, offer remote work and make sure the infrastructure is set up for your team to work remotely, condense your work week or offer flexible work hours.

6. Sustainability and social responsibility

According to recent data, 72% of consumers across 20 countries say companies behaving sustainably was more important to them because of COVID-19. 

COVID-19 has forced your customers to rethink aspects of their favourite products and services, including supply chains, products and ways of working. 

Many customers are looking at this ‘reset’ as an opportunity to seriously consider their environmental impact and will look for businesses who share their goals of sustainability.

How to embrace this business trend…

Consider reducing face-to-face meetings, minimising using materials, going paperless, reducing waste, recycling, educating employees, creating a green team, and implementing programs that reward employee efforts toward sustainability.

7. Putting people first

The previous 18 months have been tough on everyone, there’s no doubt about that.

This has led to a renewed focus on mental health, with employees and customers placing more importance on wellness.

Putting people first can no longer be performative. It needs to be considered by all employers. Mental health issues can impact employee performance and when you’ve got a small business, you’re typically relying heavily on just a few people. If performance is disrupted, that can significantly disrupt your business.

How to embrace this business trend…

Be flexible with your team. The full-time, five days-a-week schedule isn’t for everyone, and likely won't be moving forward for many businesses. Encourage people to take breaks, speak candidly about mental health, and encourage employees to take mental health days off.

8. Create contingency funds

Business finances are a priority in the most stable of times. 

Throw in a global pandemic, lockdowns, drastically reduced foot traffic, and uncertainty about the future and having the capital to survive through the tough times will become crucial.

Small business owners will be paying very close attention to their cash flow projections this year, perhaps more closely than ever before. 

How to embrace this business trend…

While the steps towards financial security will differ for each franchise and business owner, here are a few broad suggestions to get you thinking: 

  • Re-evaluate your operating expenses
  • Streamline your business processes
  • Open a business savings account
  • Use a cash-back business credit card
  • Lease assets instead of purchasing
  • Set up recurring payments to your business savings account

9. Pandemic shopping behaviours are here to stay

As Australian franchises and businesses move towards a post-COVID world, don’t expect all shopping behaviours to revert to the way they were.

We mentioned that the movement from brick-and-mortar stores to digital businesses is likely to stay, and so will the way customers have been shopping during the pandemic. These methods include:

  • Click and collect
  • Curbside pickup
  • Contactless payment methods

This is in part due to hygiene and health, but also convenience. Customers have learned it’s quick and easy to shop online, collect their goods with a tap of their phone, and head home.

Successful franchises and businesses will start to incorporate these shopping habits into their own business models.

How to embrace this business trend…

If you’ve started offering in-store pickup, for example, it may be time to expand to curbside collection. And make sure you’re geared up to accept all forms of payment including Apple Pay, Android Pay, and buy now/pay later solutions – which are popular among cash-strapped shoppers.

10. More intentional buying (less spontaneous purchases)

With finances a heightened concern, shoppers are being more intentional with their buying behaviors. 

Studies by Facebook found that consumers are planning their store visits further in advance with the help of online resources, and around two-thirds say their shopping decisions are planned, not spontaneous.

How to embrace this business trend…

Show up at the ‘research phase’ of your customer journeys. Understand the tools, websites, and channels they’re using in product discovery and trip planning, and ensure you have a strong omni-channel presence.