Mandating more frequent super payments in the May Budget would end Australia’s multi-billion-dollar unpaid super rip-off while potentially also boosting investment returns for millions of workers who get all their legal entitlements, new analysis shows.

According to a study by Industry Super Australia (ISA), this may help combat the issue of billions of dollars of unpaid superannuation, which results from a discrepancy between the amount of super reported on a payslip and the amount actually deposited into a worker’s account. 

Currently, super payments can be made on a quarterly basis.

As per data, the outdated law is the key reason workers have been underpaid a staggering $33 billion over seven years, losing an average of $4.7 billion in unpaid super each year. A 30-year-old worker earning the median wage based on their age could benefit by as much as $8000 at retirement if their super is paid on a fortnightly basis instead of quarterly. The study shows that this change would result in more frequent contributions, leading to a longer compounding effect on their retirement savings. The proposal is expected to be cost-neutral over the budget’s forward estimates and generate significant cost savings in the long term.

Additionally, addressing the issue of unpaid super would result in billions of dollars being returned to the retirement savings of millions of women who have been particularly affected by this issue. In 2019-2020, 1 million women missed out on $1.3 billion in superannuation, with a total of $10.8 billion lost over seven years. Women who are younger and have lower incomes are more likely to be impacted by this problem. 

To further improve the retirement outcomes for women, the government is also proposing to pay super on the Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave Scheme and increase the Low-Income Superannuation Tax Offset to account for changes to tax brackets and increases in the super guarantee.

According to Industry Super Australia Chief Executive Bernie Dean, each year, millions of Australian workers are losing out on billions of dollars in superannuation they’ve rightfully earned, which is causing serious financial strain and jeopardizing their futures

“At this federal budget, our politicians have an opportunity to end the huge super rip-off undermining the future economic security of many young women and others on lower incomes.” “Aligning payment of super and wages is the right thing to do by workers, boosts government revenue, lifts investment returns and puts all employers on a level playing field.” “Super has been a boon for millions already, but it’s not perfect, and there are long-standing issues that the government needs to address to make sure that more women, gig workers and low-income earners get a fairer go.” 

“Out on the street people know that super is money that you save for your retirement, and it is this simple notion that should be reflected in any laws designed to protect their financial interests.”

To enhance retirement savings, according to Industry Super Australia, the government should take the following steps:

  • Address unpaid super: by linking super payments to wages, boosting the ATO’s enforcement efforts, empowering others to assist in recovery, incorporating super into the National Employment Standards, and expanding the Fair Entitlements Guarantee to include super in case of insolvency.
  • Enhance Your Future, Your Super reforms: by preventing manipulation of the performance test, evaluating all fees and funds, and considering 10 years of historical fund performance.
  • Preserve the core principles of the super system: by upholding the legislated increase in the Super Guarantee and reflecting the public’s perception of super as a savings plan to be used solely as retirement income.
  • Broaden the super guarantee’s coverage: to ensure that gig workers receive super payments.

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Every January 28th, World Privacy Day is celebrated globallyData Privacy Day is not just about the technical side of data protection; it’s also about the human side. It’s about the stories of individuals whose lives have been impacted by data breaches and privacy violations. 

These stories serve as powerful reminders of the importance of protecting personal information and the consequences of failing to do so. They also serve as a call to action for individuals and organizations to take steps to protect personal information better and to understand the importance of data privacy in today’s digital age. 

Data Privacy Day in Australia is a day to remind people of the importance of protecting personal information. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) helps raise awareness by providing resources and information on how to protect personal information and comply with the country’s privacy laws. In Australia, the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) set the rules for how organizations handle personal information. 

The APPs make sure organizations keep personal information safe from misuse, loss, unauthorized access, and more. They also require organizations to get rid of personal information that is no longer needed. Additionally, the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme requires organizations to tell people and the OAIC if they suspect a data breach that could cause serious harm. Other laws like the Spam Act 2003 and the Cybercrime Act 2001 also support the Privacy Act.

As 2023 approaches, we at Dynamic Business feel that it is crucial to gain insight from tech industry leaders on how they plan to provide secure and seamless digital experiences for users. 

Our experts will offer valuable perspectives on the significance of data privacy and security in the tech industry and how companies are safeguarding personal information. Their perspectives will reveal current trends and obstacles in the field and offer a preview of the future of data privacy and security.

Craig Bastow, Sales Director in Australia and New Zealand at Commvault

“If there’s a buzzword that defined 2022 for Australia, it should be ‘data breach’. Last year’s events underlined some hard truths about data privacy, cyber protection, and governance policies for many Australian public and private organisations. In 2022 ‘bad actors’ have become even better at deception techniques to cloak infiltration into company systems.  Security and IT departments trying to protect their most valuable asset – their data – are being constantly challenged to keep up with the increasingly industrialised ‘ransomware industry’. 

As we enter 2023, enterprises will need to take a holistic, situational approach, which will often require refreshing the data protection strategy of the entire organisation. The starting point must be creating and continuously updating a data privacy, backup & recovery, and disaster recovery plan, as part of an overall data protection strategy. Being able to identify, locate and prioritize the most critical datasets to their business is the first step and vital to safeguarding their customers’ data. 

To combat the continuous rise in threats, assessing and encrypting data is crucial for data protection and helps prevent unauthorised access. Moving into 2023, this is especially important for businesses that handle large amounts of private data, such as healthcare providers and financial institutions – encrypting data for the duration of its existence reduces the risk of potential cyberattacks. 

Ultimately, World Data Privacy Day serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting personal data in today’s IT landscape.  Individuals and organisations must mitigate risk by safeguarding their data every day of the year.  Change is happening fast. Businesses will need to take the plunge and ensure data is protected and secure throughout the year, regardless of what that data is or where it lives at any given moment.” 

Brian Gin, Chief Privacy Officer, Trellix

“There’s no doubt privacy is a priority – and Data Privacy Week is a great time to talk about how we all have a key role in protecting it. Sometimes, we as people and organisations make the mistake of thinking privacy is someone else’s job. When in fact, every one of us is critical. Everyone with access to personal information or who helps build a product that does – almost everyone in the workplace – is responsible for safeguarding it.  

I continue to find the most successful and trusted privacy programs are the ones encouraging and empowering all employees to be responsible for protecting data. People across all functions – marketing, sales, engineering, etc. – not only understand their basic privacy obligations but also feel it’s their duty to advocate for the proper and ethical use of data. With this strong foundation and a core belief that we all benefit when privacy is viewed as a fundamental human right, corporate privacy programs can shine. This needs to be the north star we follow.” 

Scott Harkey, EVP, Financial Services & Payments, Endava

“The global digital payments market continues to expand rapidly as we edge closer to a cashless society and we see payments become increasingly embedded in the products and services we consume. Technology is fuelling the digital revolution in e-commerce but it’s people – and their sensitive data – which lie at the heart of this innovation.

“Personal data is the golden asset which companies are increasingly looking to leverage, from apps powered by this data to embedded financial transactions using saved customer information. Identity is key to building meaningful experiences, but this relies heavily on trust. Customers are more aware of their data than ever and will think twice about sharing it if they feel it won’t be protected. 

“Organizations need to put practices in place to secure consumer data from the very beginning of the collection. Tokenization can play a huge role here. While originally used for Personally Identifiable Information (PII), any kind of data can be tokenized, and organizations need to think about how they start using these tools at data capture and how they communicate to customers that their data is secure.

“With innovation becoming increasingly dependent on personal data, that information must be protected at all costs. Investing in innovative tools that prioritise built-in regulation features will win the day and the public trust”. 

Cindi Howson, Chief Data Strategy Officer, ThoughtSpot

“In a digital economy, we are creating, capturing, and sharing more personal data than ever before. Companies rely on customer data more than ever to create actionable insights to personalise services, operate more efficiently and drive business growth. We’re living in the “decade of data” – and with this comes, of course, the decade of data privacy. 

Privacy now extends far beyond protecting ourselves physically and encompasses everything we do or interact with digitally: our online footprint, often referred to as our digital twin. We’ve seen a raft of high-profile data breaches in the spotlight this past year which has fuelled public concern around data privacy. As companies become more data-dependent, customers become even more reluctant to share data while citizens remain woefully ignorant about data collected on them. It is this tension and misalignment that needs to be properly addressed in order to unlock data’s full potential. 

“Those working with customer data within any business need to be vigilant about how personal data is collected, stored, and used and the implications of failing to handle this data correctly. Behind this data are real people, many of whom will not hesitate to take their business elsewhere should their data be lost or exposed.

“Ensuring data privacy is not just a technology issue, it’s also about company culture, process, and controls. And with analysts now able to extract increasing amounts of data from even more internal and external sources, ensuring data privacy must be part of an organization’s DNA. Dumping data from analytics tools to spreadsheets remains a weak link.

“Data Privacy Day is our opportunity, as businesses and data leaders, to bring awareness to those persistent knowledge gaps, take a closer look at best practices around data, and open up the conversation around data privacy and protection.”

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As the year 2022 came to a close, the job market in Australia experienced a contraction.

Businesses in Australia began winding down in preparation for the holiday season. However, this slowdown also has a ripple effect on the job market. In December 2022, the number of job ads in Australia decreased by 2.9 per cent when compared to November last year. 

Additionally, when compared to December 2021, the number of job ads in December 2022 had dropped by 8.3 per cent. These figures suggest that the job market in Australia may have slowed down or contracted in the latter part of 2022, particularly when it comes to job postings.

This could be attributed to various reasons, such as economic slowdown, increased automation, seasonality and other external factors. The decline was particularly noticeable in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Hospitality and Tourism sectors indicating that these industries may be more vulnerable to fluctuations in consumer demand and seasonal shifts. Furthermore, the lack of work in these industries during the holiday season could reduce the number of employees.

According to Kendra Banks, the Managing Director of SEEK ANZ, the job market in Australia experienced a decline as the end of the year approached and businesses geared up for the holiday season.

Banks stated that job ad levels decreased during this time, and this decrease was particularly pronounced in the Information & Communication Technology (ICT) and Hospitality & Tourism industries. 

This suggests that these sectors may be more affected by seasonal changes and fluctuations in consumer demand. Furthermore, as the workload decreases in these industries during the holiday season, the number of employees may be reduced.

Banks acknowledged that this trend was concerning and that more analysis was needed to understand the underlying causes of the decline.

“Applications per job ad recorded a double-digit rise, indicating candidates are ready and willing to take up opportunities in the new year.

“Hospitality & Tourism roles have seen the greatest increase in applications per job ad, while workers in Trades & Services are heavily in demand.”

Advertisements down, and applications up

While job ad levels decreased, the number of applications per job increased by 10.4 per cent in December compared to November. This could mean that the number of unemployed or underemployed Australians was on the rise, and more people were coming off the sidelines and entering the job market. 

But it could also mean that job opportunities needed to keep pace with the number of people looking for work, leading to increased competition for the limited number of available jobs. As the new year began, many experts were left to ponder over the causes of this trend as they sought to understand the state of the job market.

Overall, the contraction of the job market in Australia in December 2022 highlights the need for ongoing analysis and vigilance regarding the job market.

It also serves as a reminder that while automation and technological advancements can lead to increased efficiency and productivity, they also have the potential to displace workers and disrupt the job market. Policymakers and organisations need to take a proactive approach to address the challenges posed by these issues.

Download the latest SEEK Employment data here.

Download the latest SEEK Advertised Salary data here

About the SEEK Advertised Salary Index (pdf)

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This weekly feature from Dynamic Business runs down the week’s top funding rounds from Australia and the US. Check out last week’s biggest funding rounds here.

Netskope receives $401 million in new funding

Cloud security unicorn Netskope announced an oversubscribed investment round of $401 million. The partners for this oversubscribed convertible note investment were four of the world’s premier investors. The financing was led by investment funds managed by Morgan Stanley Tactical Value, with participation from Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, and CPP Investments. 

SpaceX shooting for $750 million round at $137 billion valuation

SpaceX had a busy 2022 fundraising, and this year will be very similar for the space startup.  CNBC reported that Elon Musk’s rocket and satellite company aims to raise a fresh $750 million round at a $137 billion valuation.  The report cited an email that revealed a16z would likely lead the new funding round. The VC firm also helped Musk in his $44 billion Twitter buyout.

SirionLabs boosts series d round to $110 million with investment from Brookfield growth

SirionLabs, the global leader in artificial intelligence (AI)-powered contract lifecycle management (CLM), today announced that its Series D funding had reached $110 million due to an investment by Brookfield Growth. Partners Group led the previously announced round with participation from existing investors Sequoia India and Tiger Global. 

Melbourne clothing tech startup Bodd has raised $5 million

Bodd, a Melbourne-based clothing tech startup, has raised $5 million to use its 3D body scanning technology for advanced manufacturing. Candice and Nick Hirons, retail entrepreneurs, led the round announced on Christmas Eve and supported by several family offices and high-net-worth individuals. Tim Allison, executive chairman of Bodd and founding chairman of Virtual Gaming Worlds, is among the investors.

Perspectum Secures $36 Million in Series C Funding 

Perspectum received $36 million in Series C funding. The funds will be used to accelerate the company’s product pipeline for multiorgan inflammatory conditions and oncology. In December 2022, they announced a collaboration with Nuance, a Microsoft company. The coverage and established reimbursement codes have accelerated the adoption of LiverMultiScan by several US hospitals.

Poly has raised $4 million in seed funding

Poly, a web-first generative AI company for design assets based in San Francisco, has raised $4 million in seed funding. Felicis, Bloomberg Beta, and NextView Ventures led the round. The funds will be used to train vertically fine-tuned AI models and to hire design and AI talent.

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Supply chain woes have been a consistent source of frustration for retailers due to a lack of investment, which the pandemic and ongoing global conflicts have exacerbated,  Dr Deborah Pike, Anaplan’s Principal Supply Chain Solutions Consultant, writes.

Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted since last year’s shopping season, with consumers spending more for Christmas gifts, despite inflation and increased living costs.

While enhanced sales bode well for retailers, they continue to be hampered by supply chain disruptions and the challenges of meeting demand. This has been a consistent pain point for retailers due to the lack of investment in supply chain solutions and exaggerated by the pandemic and ongoing global conflicts.

While we are seeing small improvements in this space, Gartner predicts that supply chains will be disrupted until about 2024, and we have also seen some indicators of that situation, such as the ongoing skill shortage and soaring fuel costs.

As such, it is crucial for businesses to be strategic when it comes to supply chain planning in 2023 and beyond.

Remove siloes for better business planning 

Research has seen a 46.7 per cent increase in Australians shopping online and a 12 per cent decrease in brick-and-mortar shopping in Q1 of 2022 compared to the same period in 2020.

Considering these changes, organisations should invest in operational solutions such as connected planning —a robust solution connecting different streams of the business across a single platform. While we have seen some organisations investing in the connected planning approach to running their business, 87 per cent do not have a structured sales and operations planning process. This means that different parts of the business, which are critical to its success, are not aligned or necessarily aware of their role in the wider business.

For instance, if a company’s sales department is siloed from its finance team, there could be a misalignment between customer demand and revenue expectations. If sales and marketing are siloed from the operations team, they could end up pushing products that cannot be delivered due to supply chain issues. 

These misalignments can be easily solved if all departments have complete visibility into what the others are doing within the business – which can be achieved through the connected planning solution. 

Use ‘what-if’ scenarios instead of historical spreadsheets

Organisations have traditionally looked backwards and used historical data for forecasting. We can all probably agree that if we use data from March 2020 through to June 2020, organisations will be painting an inaccurate picture of demand. 

Planning is no longer ‘set it and forget it’ – historical data may not be giving us the full story, and business leaders must be prepared to access other data sources; exclude periods of history; identity and action outliers as well as have the ability to pivot as market indicators change – that is, plan for “what-if” scenarios.

Using simple spreadsheets may also lead to instances of human error and cannot be relied on as the sole source of truth. Instead, alternatives such as connected planning solutions provide reliable, real-time data allowing businesses to make informed decisions and rapidly pivot their strategy. 

Prioritise sustainability in your supply chains 

We have seen what natural and health disasters have done to supply chains over the last few years. Coupled with increased consumer support for businesses with a sustainability ethos, companies must embed sustainability in their supply chains.

Key considerations include how to source materials that are in line with the wider environment, social and governance metrics, how to work with suppliers to make sure products can be sustainably produced and recycled, how to measure manufacturing or logistics emissions to ensure that they are driving toward overall commitments and how to partner with organisations with aligned responsible and ethical objectives and practices. 

Even with all these tips in mind, ultimately, agility is essential. Organisations need to be able to adapt quickly to changes in the market to shape supply chains in line with global developments. 

Therefore, our objective has always been to help organisations move away from siloed approaches. By bringing different stakeholders together, companies will be better equipped to plan sustainable supply chains more effectively for the ultimate benefit of the business and all concerned. 

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As the new year begins, Australian businesses face many challenges shaping the business landscape in 2023 and beyond. 

According to KPMG’s annual survey of business leaders, the top issue on their minds is talent-finding, retaining, and upskilling employees to meet the demands of the modern workforce.

But talent is one of many concerns for these business leaders. Digital transformation and cybersecurity also rank highly on the list of priorities as companies seek to stay competitive and secure in the digital age. These issues will likely continue to be important focus areas for businesses in the coming years as technology advances and evolves.

Interestingly, the survey also found that concerns about remote working have declined compared to previous years. This may be because many companies have already implemented measures to address the challenges of remote work and have adapted to the new normal of remote operations.

As these challenges and priorities come into focus, it will be important for companies to address and adapt to them to remain competitive and successful in the coming years. The survey found that talent was a consistently deep concern among business leaders, with many expressing difficulty finding and retaining skilled employees. In addition to talent, other top issues included technological change, economic uncertainty, and regulatory changes. These challenges will likely have significant impacts on businesses in the coming years, and it will be important for companies to address and adapt to them to remain competitive and successful.

According to the survey, talent is the top concern heading into 2023, with 77% of leaders identifying it as their biggest challenge, up from 69% in the previous year’s survey. Talent is the top concern for business executives over the short and medium term.

Digital transformation was the second biggest concern, up from the fourth place in the previous year’s survey. Extracting value from digital transformation and upskilling staff to meet the demands of a more digitised future were key aspects of the talent issue. 

Cybersecurity was the third biggest concern, down from second place in the previous year. It’s worth noting that the survey was conducted before the recent cybersecurity breaches at Optus and Medibank, which may have impacted the rankings.

Alison Kitchen, KPMG Chairman, said: “Finding and keeping good quality staff is vital at the best of times, but with unemployment, at its lowest level in over 50 years, the challenge has become greater due to a smaller pool of talent. While we are advocating for an improvement in Australia’s migration system to help address the talent supply, our respondents rightly acknowledge they need to implement actions to keep talented people and provide a work environment that fosters learning, development and growth.”

She added: “It’s notable that this year’s findings show a return to ‘nuts and bolts’ issues, such as staffing and the state of the economy. This is different from a year ago when employees working remotely were prevalent. Given that this year will be challenging economically, it makes sense for businesses to focus on fundamentals while remaining flexible and open to new opportunities.”

Dr Brendan Rynne, KPMG Chief Economist, said: “It is notable that digital transformation and the issue of re-skilling and up-skilling staff for a digitised future are very high in the priority list not only for the 12 months ahead but also the next 3-5 years.

“The commercial world is rapidly evolving, with the pandemic acting as a catalyst for change and turbo-charging development of all things digital, online and cloud. Most workers are digitally literate, but only to a point. 

New business and social applications are being released at an increasing pace, and the need to ensure staff are at least competent with technology – or ideally digitally enabled – is something our business leaders are contemplating how best to achieve. There is also an acknowledgement by business leaders that this is not a ‘fix once and forget’ challenge. Rather, this issue has increased in importance over the past year and will continue doing so.”

Tech will be more relevant in the near future

As the world becomes increasingly digitised, businesses are looking towards new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, and quantum computing to stay ahead of the curve. These technologies have the potential to revolutionise industries and create new opportunities for companies, but they also bring with them ethically and implementation issues that must be carefully addressed.

According to a recent survey of business leaders in Australia, these technologies are seen as increasingly relevant in the short-medium term. As businesses adopt and integrate these technologies into their operations, it will be important to consider the ethical implications and ensure that they are implemented responsibly and transparently. This is a growing concern for both businesses and policymakers, particularly in regard to data privacy and bias.

As these technologies continue to advance and evolve, it will be crucial for businesses and policymakers to work together to address the ethical and implementation issues that come with them, realise their full potential and create a better future for all.

Find more about the survey here.

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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced that it will provide A$41.5 million funding to 13 research projects.

This is part of ARENA’s efforts to significantly reduce the cost of solar power and drive down the cost of solar even further and support the country’s transition to renewable electricity. 

The funding has been awarded to researchers from three Australian universities; The University of New South Wales (UNSW), The Australian National University (ANU) and The University of Sydney (USYD).  

The funding will support research and development activities, as well as commercialisation efforts, and is in line with ARENA’s “Solar 30 30 30” target of achieving 30 per cent module efficiency and 30 cents per installed watt at utility scale by 2030.

In addition to supporting R&D efforts, the funding will also be used to help bring new technologies to market after each project’s core R&D phase. 

ARENA initially opened for applications in February this year and increased the funding allocated by a further $1.5 million due to the strength of the applications that have the potential to reduce the levelised cost of solar PV and improve cell and module efficiency across two streams: 

  • Stream 1 – Cells and Modules: Building on Australia’s leading track record of R&D and innovation in solar cells and modules ($27.5 million in funding) 
  • Stream 2 – Balance of System, operations and maintenance: Seeking to broaden the approach to accelerate innovation that can drive down the upfront and ongoing costs of utility-scale solar PV in the field ($14 million in funding). 

This announcement marks a continuation of ARENA’s investment in solar PV as the organisation looks to promote the adoption of renewable energy sources in Australia.

Australia’s solar energy R&D

Australia has a long history of solar energy research and development, with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) playing an important role in funding this work.

Ultra-low-cost solar will be a key input into ARENA’s strategic priorities for scaling up low-cost renewable hydrogen production and unlocking decarbonisation pathways for heavy industry, including low-emission materials such as green steel and aluminium. 

ARENA has funded several research projects and institutions, including universities, that are working to develop ultra-low-cost solar technologies. It has already committed AUD 118.5 million in grant funding to 145 solar PV projects with 17 institutions since 2012 and has also supported the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics with AUD 128.99 million in funding until 2030.

Aside from ARENA, several other organisations and initiatives in Australia are working on ultra-low-cost solar research. The Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) is one of these. It is a national research centre that combines academia, industry, and government researchers to work on advanced photovoltaic technologies. 

In addition, several private companies and start-ups in Australia are actively involved in solar research and development. 

Overall, the landscape for ultra-low-cost solar research in Australia is vibrant and diverse, with various organisations and initiatives working together to reduce the cost of solar energy.

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Brands are always searching for new ways to meet growing consumer demands as the business landscape continues to evolve rapidly.

Digital technology has shifted purchasing power to consumers, who now have instant access to information — and other global businesses selling the same product — at their fingertips. 

Historically, businesses have used the in-person customer experience as a differentiator, but in a digital-first world, this level of personalisation and attentiveness has been difficult for many retailers to replicate.

Consumers’ expectations are high, with 71 per cent expecting a personalised experience when shopping. Over the years, businesses have realised a personable brand is important in connecting with their customer base. For example, premium streetwear retailer and Shopify merchant Culture Kings, successfully transformed its online store to replicate the physical store atmosphere and experience Australian consumers have grown to love. One interesting way it does this is through a ‘Shop the Look’ page where the in-house team curates outfits on the web the way staff might make personal recommendations in-store.

Whether businesses use customisable mobile applications to meet consumer needs or integrate offline and online retail to create a more seamless shopping experience, the possibilities are endless.

The solutions to meet growing consumer demands 

With a wide range of commerce tools available, brands are able to improve every aspect of the customer journey to meet consumer demands. 

For instance, retailers can implement automated tools such as an AI-powered recommendation engine that registers customer behaviour and purchases or design smart fitting rooms to provide high-touch service for discerning shoppers. Other solutions, like a self-directed returns portal that provides real-time tracking information, allow for a simple and positive return experience. 

In doing this, brands are able to maximise their opportunities to cross-sell and upsell products within their ecosystem, all while providing an enhanced customer experience. 

Customising your online approach 

Despite consumers valuing personalised online experiences, just 30 per cent are happy with the way Australian brands do it. This is where authenticity and a polished digital presence play vital roles in exceeding customer expectations. In attempting to deliver a personalised experience, many customers can feel as though a brand is trying to sell them unnecessary products or are left feeling frustrated with poor online customer service. 

A quality brand seeks to meet consumers where they are — whether online, offline or on social media — allowing them to connect with a brand through multiple touchpoints. This involves consistency across social platforms as well as an enticing digital shopfront that appeals to your target audience, making it easier to convert ‘window’ shoppers into customers.

Created as a haven for music, sport and fashion lovers, Culture Kings successfully replicated its trademark in-store experience online, with what they’re labelling as ‘brand synergy’. By designing a tailored and exclusive experience just as impressive as in-store displays, Culture Kings was able to open four global online storefronts with 60 per cent of revenue coming from online.

Using technology to augment the physical experience has proven to be immensely beneficial to achieve a high-quality customer experience. Artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to make big waves in customer experience, from AI-based chatbots to predictive analytics and data driven personalisation.

Similarly, the use of augmented reality (AR) has seen greater adoption by brands in mainstream markets. This is primarily thanks to social media apps, with Deloitte research suggesting that 75 per cent of the global population will be frequent AR users by 2025. AR features such as virtual product try-ons improve digital experiences by delivering real-time interactions with products they’re looking to buy, resulting in less churn and better serving customer needs. 

The value of in-store purchasing applications

Social media marketing continues to have massive ROI potential, but driving sales on social media still comes with its challenges ⁠ —one being getting followers to leave a social media app to make a purchase on an online store. 

This is where social commerce integrations come into play, existing at the cross-section of eCommerce and social media. In basic terms, social commerce is when businesses, brands, and creators sell on sales channels located directly on their social media profiles or their followers’ social media feeds. 

In the past couple of years, social media platforms have developed tools like shoppable posts, on-site storefronts, and dedicated checkouts that allow users to discover new products, explore new brands and make purchases—all without ever leaving their social network.  This creates less friction at checkout,  drives engagement and easily accommodates the growing number of mobile shoppers.

Shoppers expect the ability to shop seamlessly, whether it’s online or in-store, but according to Shopify, only 7 per cent of retailers offer a unified commerce experience by allowing a customer to “start the sale anywhere, finish the sale anywhere.” The integration of offline and online retail made available through Point of Sale (POS) software and retail hardware have allowed merchants to provide seamless experiences across channels. 

Shopify POS syncs inventory and prevents merchants from having to run separate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms across online and in-store transactions, which builds rich customer profiles to create a unified commerce experience for retailers. This ultimately offers a reimagined point-of-sale, strengthening sales and optimising flexibility for retailers. 

When it comes to evolving customer expectations, creating unforgettable experiences is one part of the winning formula for many retailers. With so much product information at their fingertips, shoppers are now calling the shots. As a result, retail brands have to get creative to keep up. Overall, using a digital-first approach to win over discerning shoppers helps brands leverage the power of online storefronts to accelerate sales and business growth.

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SafeWork NSW reminds food delivery riders that failing to follow the new safety laws that start today could result in costly consequences. 

As of January 1, 2023, it is required by law for riders to wear the provided personal protective equipment, including a high visibility vest and food bag, and carry proof of training.

Any riders found not wearing their PPE after this date will face a fine of $144 for each offence.

In response to several fatalities among food delivery riders at the end of 2020, the New South Wales (NSW) government established a task force to address the issue. The task force launched an education and compliance program in Sydney and announced new laws that apply to all food delivery platforms. These measures aim to improve safety for food delivery riders in NSW.

According to the new regulation, all food delivery platforms:

  • Will be required to provide riders with induction training before allowing them to work for their platform.
  • Provide each rider with a training record verifying that they have completed induction training.
  • Must maintain records of the provision of high-visibility personal protective equipment (PPE) and training records for delivery riders.

All riders:

  • Will be legally required to use or wear the PPE that has been provided to them while delivering food or drink.
  • Must produce their training record if requested by a SafeWork NSW Inspector or a New South Wales (NSW) police officer.
  • Penalties and fines will apply to platforms and riders who need to show that they have met these requirements.

High injury rate 

According to a recent study, the number of food delivery cyclists being injured is much higher than official reports suggest. The study used hospital records to try to determine the true extent of delivery-related cycling injuries among gig economy workers. (Full report here)

SafeWork NSW reported 37 pedal cycling injuries associated with commercial delivery in the state in 2019-2020, but a pilot study by researchers at Macquarie University and St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney found at least 43 cycling-related injuries in just one hospital emergency department in Sydney over a similar period. 

According to the workplace safety regulator in New South Wales (NSW), UberEats reported 71 severe incidents and three deaths in Sydney involving delivery riders in 2020.

The state also pointed out the risks that companies pose to riders who are on student visas. 

The regulator noted that many food delivery riders who use motorcycles in the city are on international student visas and need to receive adequate instruction, information, and training. This lack of proper training and support can increase the risks and dangers faced by these riders.

A recent Deloitte study for Uber Eats found that one-third of consumers surveyed in the Asia Pacific region use a restaurant or meal delivery service, with 7 per cent of consumers using delivery once a week.

Acting Head of SafeWork John Tansey said the NSW Government continues to liaise with industry and riders on the changes, which include new requirements to ensure all riders are provided with high visibility personal protective equipment (PPE), receive comprehensive training, and are competent to do the work.

 “SafeWork Inspectors have already issued warnings to a number of riders who were not wearing their supplied high visibility vests when delivering food,” Mr Tansey said 

 “We made a major step to improve safety for riders on 1 July this year, when it became law for food delivery booking providers to supply their riders with PPE.

No rush deliveries

Additionally, in February 2021, the Food Delivery Rider Taskforce in New South Wales (NSW) encouraged food delivery apps to base delivery time targets on average speeds and traffic conditions. 

The task force urged these companies to avoid setting unrealistic delivery times and to ensure that the apps used by riders are safe to use while driving. This recommendation was made in an effort to improve the safety of food delivery riders in the state.

“These reforms are about keeping riders safer on our roads,” Mr Tansey said.

“We now have the strongest safety environment for food delivery platforms and riders anywhere in the world and will continue to work with industry to ensure a culture where people and safety come first.”

For further information, visit the SafeWork NSW food delivery industry page here.

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Several potential free trade agreements have been discussed or negotiated in the past between Australia and India.

This time, the federal government claims that the “ground-breaking” agreement will save Australian exporters around $2 billion in tariffs per year. 

The trade agreement between India and Australia was signed on April 2, but it was not until November 29 that the two countries completed all necessary formalities and ratified the agreement through their respective legislatures. The documents were then exchanged, marking the official implementation of the agreement.

Australia and India have signed a free trade agreement that aims to eliminate tariffs on 85 per cent of Australian goods exported to India. The items include Australian lamb, wool, cotton, oats, critical minerals, and cosmetics.

Tariffs on a further five per cent of goods will be tapered down to zero over the next six years.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) is an organization that promotes and supports the export of goods and services from India. The organization’s vice-president, Khalid Khan, has stated that the Australia-India Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect on December 29th, will provide significant opportunities for Indian exporters.

Under the terms of the agreement, Australia has been offering zero-duty access to India for almost 96.4 per cent of exports (by value) from the start of the agreement.

This covers many products that previously attracted customs duties of 4-5 per cent in Australia. In the 2021-2022 fiscal year, India’s goods exports to Australia were valued at $8.3 billion, while imports from Australia were valued at $16.75 billion.

The India-Australia FTA is intended to provide new opportunities for businesses in both countries by reducing barriers to trade and increasing economic cooperation. It is also expected to lead to increased competition and potentially lower consumer prices.

In general, free trade agreements are intended to reduce barriers to trade and increase economic cooperation between countries.

This can be achieved through various means, including eliminating or reducing tariffs (taxes on imported goods), removing non-tariff barriers (such as quotas or other trade restrictions), and improving the business environment for companies operating in the countries involved.

For businesses, a free trade agreement with India could potentially provide new opportunities for export and expansion into the Indian market. It could also make it easier for businesses to source goods and materials from India, potentially reducing costs and increasing competitiveness.

A welcome move

The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) is the peak body representing independent skills training and higher education providers.  

ITECA looks forward to the opportunities that the IA-ECTA presents for its members in the skills training and higher education sectors.

“There are strong economic and societal benefits for Australia through improved access to the adult Indian education sector, and ITECA members look forward to developing the collaborative relationships in India to bring these to fruition,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.

Data in the 2022 ITECA State Of The Sector Report highlights the importance of the Indian education market to the Australian independent tertiary education sector.

India is currently the largest source of enrolments for independent skills training providers, with 70,616 student enrolments (99.2% of total Indian skills training student enrolments), according to data in the 2022 ITECA State Of The Sector Report.

Similarly, for independent higher education providers, India is currently the largest single source of enrolments, with 18,121 student enrolments (32.0% of total Indian higher education student enrolments) according to data in the 2022 ITECA State Of The Sector Report.

“ITECA looks forward to working with both the Australian and Indian Governments to ensure that the benefits of IA-ECTA deliver the outcomes for both Indian students and Australian independent tertiary education providers,” Mr Williams said

Reflecting on IA-ECTA, Mr Williams said it was one of many important initiatives to help Australia’s international education sector recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Some providers continue to do it tough, and student visa processing issues continue.  We’re hopeful that IA-ECTA will help in the rebuilding phase and leverage Australia’s world-class education system, our liveable cities, multicultural society and student protection mechanisms,” Mr Williams said.

ALSO READ: A decade in the making: India-Australia aims to double bilateral trade

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