The pandemic has impacted the world in so many ways, it’s hard to keep up. We sat down with Ryan Gracie, CMO at Catch, to discuss the trends, the power of Australian consumers and the future of e-commerce during unprecedented times.
Online retail has been experiencing history-making changes in the last six months. What have been some of the most significant changes that Catch has seen in the first half of the year?
While safety has always been our top priority, COVID-19 brought a new set of challenges for keeping staff and customers safe with the situation changing rapidly every day. Our focus was on ensuring our warehouse team members were safe to continue working on site through the pandemic, while continuing to deliver for our customers.
We also needed to ensure we could keep up with changing consumer demands. Product shortages of essential goods became a challenge very quickly and our buyers had to scour the world to find the right products at the right price to satisfy what was often very unpredictable demand.
We had to shift and adapt quickly in the first half of this year, establishing new ways of working for our head office team members as we continue to grow, hire and onboard new team members at a steady rate, all while working from home. Like everyone, we were all learning to adapt to the situation and we are pleased with how our team has continued to remain upbeat and passionate. Especially our customer service teams who continue to help our growing customer base during such a tough time.
As Aussies realise the potential of e-commerce over the last few months, there has been a flurry of new customers entering the e-commerce landscape. Has Catch seen a change in customer behaviour, and how has it impacted its strategy going forward?
We have definitely seen a change in behaviour. The pandemic has caused an undeniable shift in what we purchase, and how we purchase it. As many Australians felt the effects of economic and job instability, there was a notable spike in traffic from a high volume of searches around ‘savings’ and ‘great value’, highlighting the need for even greater deals during these times.
We have also noticed certain categories increasing in popularity amongst shoppers during this time. For example, the grocery category at Catch has gone through significant growth as more people look to purchase necessities without leaving their homes. We also saw an increase in demand for sportswear and equipment sales as Aussies relied on at-home workouts to stay in shape throughout lockdowns. Finally, a spike in the arts & crafts category occurred as parents looked for ways to keep the kids entertained at home.
Another interesting change can be seen in the time of day that people are shopping, with a noticeable increase in traffic during the morning and middle of the day, particularly towards the beginning of the week. This brings to light new patterns of online shopping behaviour while customers work from home.
Our strategy remains consistent – to continue to offer our customers great savings on their favourite brands. We’re thrilled that so many customers have discovered the ease and convenience of shopping with Catch during this time, and we are working hard to continue to provide even more reasons for them to make Catch their online shopping destination.
Did Catch foresee an uplift in online customers before the pandemic, or did the retailer have to act fast to keep up with the influx of new customers?
Catch was already growing fast, but the pandemic fast-tracked a clear trend towards online shopping and accelerated that growth, we could never have predicted the influx we experienced and we didn’t know how long the increase in demand would last. We had to work around the clock to ensure we had the products people needed and to help them arrive in time. We imposed limits on certain items so people weren’t buying more than they needed.
We also had to change the way we operated in the office and warehouse, and we are really proud of how the team adapted so quickly and worked hard to provide a seamless experience for our customers through these challenging times.
As online continues to dominate the landscape amid the pandemic, how did Catch cope with an onset of orders?
Our top priority was ensuring the safety of our team members and customers. We moved fast to make sure we adhered to the strict set of safety standards, while also getting products to our customers despite interruptions. We worked around the clock to continue to ship products, concentrating specifically on the essentials that our customers needed most, while continuing to keep the warehouse stocked with popular items. We’re really pleased with how our team members adapted to the demand, and continued to provide a seamless experience for our customers when they needed us most.
Many older Australian shoppers are using e-commerce platforms for the first time. Does Catch have a strategy to make the shopping experience easier for those who aren’t used to the e-commerce platform?
Our approach to experience design at Catch puts the customer first. Aussies have different levels of experience and comfort with technology and they’re shopping online more than they would have previously. We have a talented team, who consider our customers’ unique needs, expectations and goals as we design and constantly improve our shopping experience on Catch. We engage with a broad range of customers through research, design and digital product testing to make it easy to get the job done of shopping on Catch.
In our conversations with our senior customers this year, we’re really focusing on making it both easy and fun to shop. Shopping online really can be a joy. We do this by ensuring people can easily find what they need with simple and honest content and reliable customer service. Also, our customers really love our app, it’s definitely the easiest way to shop online.
Have there been introductions of new marketing strategies over the last six months to accommodate for the new online shoppers?
Our business lends itself to online shoppers seeking value so our core offering has remained the same but we have certainly been proactive in adapting and trying new things for our customers. We have increased our brand building efforts to show Aussies the amazing range of products they can buy at Catch, launching our biggest ever brand campaign ‘Everyday Aussies’ in August across TV, radio, OOH, YouTube and Social. We want everyone in Australia to know the huge breadth of categories available at Catch so they can save money across everything from home and lifestyle, to sports and tech, as well as beauty, fashion, toys & games and all their grocery essentials and everything in between.
We’ve launched some new exciting partnerships adding value to the influx of new online shoppers, including a partnership with Target on our Catch marketplace, offering our customers a wide product selection from a well-known Aussie brand. Customers can also ‘Click & Collect’ from selected Target stores. We also joined forces with Flybuys to provide our customers with even more value on their everyday purchases.
Recognising that some of our customers are doing it tough during these challenging times, we have looked for ways to provide some uplifting content that remains true to our fun and irreverent personality.
Our ‘Everyday Aussies’ brand campaign was created to show Catch’s wide product offering and to showcase our fun and playful personality in the humorous campaign.
We also started Lockdown Laughs for our social community, which welcomed people to submit their funny videos, giving our customers a feeling of community and fun in a dark time. We then would announce the winners for the funniest videos, which was a way for our audience to engage with us and each other.
Looking back at the last six months, what has Catch learned from the challenges and experiences?
There’s no secret that the global pandemic has introduced a range of unexpected challenges, accelerating soft trends such as remote working and online shopping, into necessities. As an organisation, we were focused on keeping our team members and customers safe, while ensuring that products were received on time, despite interruptions.
We’ve learned the importance of flexibility and seen incredible resilience from our team members who were able to adapt quickly to a situation that was changing day to day. We believe we have come out stronger and more nimble than ever.
What online retail trends does Catch expect to see in the second half of 2020?
E-commerce has seen a significant increase in demand across the first half of 2020, as consumers turned online for many of their essential shopping needs. With increasing numbers of Aussies introduced to the ease and convenience of online shopping during this time, the trend is one that is expected to remain.
As we look ahead to Christmas, warmer weather and an easing of lockdown restrictions, we understand that after a particularly challenging year, many of our customers are eager to reconnect, celebrate and treat their loved ones more than ever.
Last-mile delivery has become a tricky aspect of e-commerce recently. How has Catch dealt with the influx of orders, and has there been a change in strategy for last-mile deliveries?
While the need for prompt delivery of essentials increased amid the pandemic, we’ve managed to adapt well to the circumstances. While no major changes were made to our overall system, and our last-mile strategy remained consistent, we had to adapt quickly to the changes in restrictions to ensure deliveries could be completed on time, while keeping our team members and customers safe. We’ve been really impressed with how well the warehouse teams in particular have managed during this time.
Blurring the lines between brick and mortar and online retail is becoming an increasingly popular trend. Does Catch expect treating the customer as channel-less to become even more important in this half of 2020?
Catch.com.au is always committed to providing convenient solutions that allow our customers to shop in a way that suits them. We’ve experimented with various pop-up stores and click and collect partnerships to provide options to suit our customers varying needs.
Our recent partnership with Target has also opened up a wider omnichannel approach, offering our customers more convenience with the choice to click and collect from Target stores or Kmart K Hubs.
We certainly think this trend will continue as retailers experiment with multiple channels to provide more flexibility and convenience for customers.
Is there anything exciting coming our way from Catch?
Of course! Being a part of Wesfarmers has opened up new opportunities and channels to connect with our customers and reach new ones. It’s given us the ability to leverage partnerships with some of Australia’s most iconic retailers and we’re excited for future opportunities.
We also recently announced our biggest ever brand campaign, launching the new tagline, ‘Checkout Catch’. The campaign celebrates everyday Aussies and the amazing range of products they can buy at Catch. It’s a humorous campaign that sees everyday Aussies made famous with the products they can buy on Catch like Justin’s Timber Rake, Kim’s Car Dash Cam and Sylvester’s Cologne, and we’re excited to share more of that throughout the year exploring more brand activity as part of our mix.
We’re continuously humbled by the increasing number of Australians that turn to Catch for all their shopping needs daily. We’re Aussie born and bred and we’re excited to continue helping Aussies save even more money on anything they want and everything they need.