A new year often brings renewed optimism, as Canadians resolve to improve themselves in different ways. For Canadian businesses, the new year has brought a new, proactive vision of the future according to Square’s latest Future of Commerce report. While 2020 to 2022 were marked by businesses pivoting out of necessity, the focus for this year will be more about pushing the envelope with automation, diversification and imagination.
Retailers and restaurateurs alike are looking to automate their operations and how they sell. Seventy per cent of restaurants are currently experiencing labour shortages (40% have been short-handed for more than two years), and plan to leverage technology to fill in critical gaps such as managing orders (50%), accepting reservations (39%), and tracking item availability in real time (38%).
Also driving the push toward automation is Generation Z, those Canadians born between 1996 and 2012. So important is this generation that 53% of retailers are devising entirely separate marketing strategies to attract these consumers.
With 95% of Gen Z consumers already using their mobile devices to shop, 85% of Canadian retailers are looking to add more sales channels in the coming year. With businesses already offering an average of five sales channels, this push will mean even more commerce options for consumers of all ages in 2023.
For restaurants in particular, diversification is the trend of 2023, with 89% of restaurateurs planning to expand their non-core offerings, such as meal kits, tastings and online cooking classes. Retail in particular is playing a huge role in restaurants; more than half of consumers (54%) made retail purchases at restaurants last year, prompting restaurants to plan for added retail this year.
But branching out is not unique to the food and beverage industry, as a variety of businesses of all sizes look to expand their offerings with complementary products and services. Spas, for example, will increasingly offer beauty and personal care products along with wellness bars serving healthy beverages and snacks in addition to their therapeutic services. And retailers are branching out beyond their online and brick-and-mortar locations by creating pop-up shops and curated, limited-time installations and experiences.
Consumers can expect to see continued diversification as businesses eagerly test the waters in 2023.
Pre-pandemic, businesses were slow to implement change, putting off plans indefinitely as things rolled along somewhat smoothly. The pandemic brought with it a rush to adapt, as businesses had to implement new technology and processes at a rapid pace simply to stay afloat.
Now, as businesses settle back to a slightly more predictable landscape, there is a greater appetite to embrace change, push the envelope and be imaginative as they prepare for what might come next. With consumers increasingly returning to in-store shopping, 43% of retailers plan to introduce QR codes in-store to surface additional product information or guide shoppers to promotions and extended digital experiences. 37% of retailers also plan to add more immersive experiences like virtual reality, augmented reality and interactive kiosks.
These represent just a few of the many ways retailers are reimagining the ways Canadians shop, turning the humble store into a richer, experiential destination.
To learn more about 2023 trends, read the latest Future of Commerce report here.