This story is sponsored by PixelForce.
As Australians negotiate this strange new world of social distancing and self isolation we are all finding different ways of operating, including adopting different buying habits.
And while for some business sectors the coronavirus crisis has led to a uplift in sales, for many bricks and mortar retailers it has delivered another blow.
If the news was not already gloomy enough for the country's retailers, the restrictions introduced to fight the pandemic have added a new pressure as customers scale back their shopping in stores and instead head online. Australia Post has reported record demand for deliveries outstripping even the Christmas peak.
While the impact on retail has already been significant, this shift in buying behavior could have implications for the future even as we return to normality. Will customers having discovered the convenience of online shopping still want to get in their cars and drive to stores to buy? For certain, this disruption will intensify the need for retailers to deliver an even better shopping experience for their customers.
At the same time, many other business sectors who usually rely on their customers heading into their premises to receive their services moved quickly, pivoting to create new business models that allow them to continue operating. Pubs, cafes and restaurants have turned into food delivery businesses, and gyms are offering online classes that still allow their members the solidarity of working out together.
One of the outcomes of the online activity is the highlighting of the importance for businesses of embracing digital technology - to present their products and services, communicate with their customers, and provide a great experience.
"A lot of businesses have moved very quickly to develop digital answers to the challenges that are facing them," said Jason Quinn, Digital Marketing Officer at leading Australian web development agency PixelForce, which has a history of working alongside local businesses to create digital solutions for complex problems.
"There is so much potential for digital innovation that can change the lives of business owners. I think this experience will speed up the take up of digital technology by businesses out of necessity but also because of the advantages that are really being highlighted.
"Even those businesses who weren't that tech savvy are using social media, some for the first time. They are developing mobile apps, and setting up websites. Businesses who didn't have an online presence are at least moving on to Facebook now."
The lessons being learned now and the new systems being set up will have benefits for the long term for businesses, said Mr Quinn.
"Using the technology available allows businesses to get a lot more efficient. For example they can take the business outside of business hours, they can take bookings at any time, they can broaden their reach and connect with more customers. it allows them to automate a lot more and for a small business that can be a big help."
For bricks and mortar businesses, digital technology also offers plenty of opportunities that will help them attract customers into stores.
Around the world some of the smartest retailers are using innovative technology as part of strategies to improve the customer experience and keep bricks and mortar alive and thriving.
The technologies range from cleverly targeted digital marketing and the use of analytics, to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Sensor Data, and Facial Recognition.
"VR and AR is taking off, things like people being able to use a mobile app to try on clothes or hair styles or make-up products. Amazon is using technology to open its first cashier-less stores," said Mr Quinn.
"Digital technology is certainly speeding along at the moment. And, at this point, for businesses, embracing innovation is not necessarily about keeping up with competitors, it's about trying to get ahead so you remain viable."
Get in touch with a PixelForce team member to discuss your digital solutions needs with a free half hour consultation via www.pixelforce.com.au.
This story is sponsored by PixelForce.