Retail

Aussie retailers weigh in on Amazon’s arrival: “Exciting, progressive” time for e-commerce

Emma Koehn /

This week’s news that retail giant Amazon will be landing in Australia confirms years of speculation and launches a fresh burst of worry from the Australian retail sector about the future of local brands.

However, at the smaller end of town, Australian e-commerce players tell SmartCompany they do not fear the multinational as much as some headlines might have you believe,  with some even going so far as to say it’s an opportunity to push Aussies to do better when it comes to their online retail offerings.

SmartCompany asked seven business owners to weigh in on exactly what the arrival of Amazon means for them — and why they’re ready for the retail platform to secure more growth.

Kate Morris
Founder, Adore Beauty

“I think the fear of being eaten alive by a bigger competitor is what has kept us alive for 17 years. You’re constantly thinking what can we give our customers that they’re not going to get somewhere else. And the same goes for Amazon. I think any business whose main value proposition is convenience should be a bit worried, well a lot worried to be honest from what we’ve seen about how Amazon is used in States in particular. [But] I don’t think it will mean the death of small beauty retailers; there’s plenty of beauty retailers that co-exist in other markets. 

“We plan to survive … just because there’s a very big competitor, it doesn’t mean there aren’t still opportunities. You need to have a pretty clear vision of how you’re going to help your customers”.

Jethro Marks
Co-founder and director, The Nile

“The arrival of Amazon is going to force all retailers to focus more intently on customer needs and wants. Amazon is laser-focused on customer experience. All retailers are going to have to become truly customer-centric or they will find it very difficult to compete.”

“Amazon has been in Australia for many years. They are one of the largest online retail destinations for Australians. Their decision to invest further in Australia is validation of the health of the online retail market. As part of their offering Amazon is going to launch a marketplace for the Australian market. As eBay’s largest Australian seller, we are well positioned to participate on Amazon. We believe they will help grow the market for all online retailers, as more Australian buyers decide to buy locally instead of from overseas.

Rob Ward
Co-founder, Annex Products — Quadlock

“Being [a] brand as apposed to a retailer, Amazon is another great channel for us to sell Quad Lock through. As we’re a global brand we already sell millions of dollars a year to Amazon.com, .co.uk, .eu, .de and so on. We don’t see Amazon as competition but more as a partner. We’re confident our go to market strategy that’s proven itself through international markets where Amazon plays a big part will transfer to our local market similarly.”

“We expect some of our own sales from Quadlockcase.com.au will move over to Amazon.com.au as Aussie consumers take a liking to services such as Amazon Prime, but this will be a gradual transition as Amazon rolls out. We will also enjoy extra sales through the ability to get in front of more customers which is exciting.”

Talia Sasson
Founder, Bridesmaids Only

“I think it’s terribly exciting, and progressive that Amazon is coming — a true convergence of the online with the physical, and a quantum leap forward in customer experience.  If nothing else, I see it as engendering greater support for the proliferating e-community in Australia. 

“Our business has always been focused on the customer experience and as a result we have established a large loyal community. We will continue to invest in our customers.  If necessary, we are lean enough to pivot if any decisions taken by conglomerates like Amazon seek enter our marketplace.”

Jen Geale
Co-founder, Mountain Bikes Direct

In a recent SmartCompany profile, Geale said the following about the ability of the bike parts platform to compete with global giants:

“I don’t believe Amazon will be death of other e-retailers, but there are going to be challenges. There are plenty of sites that exist in an Amazon world. You can be the small team, for example. I think people like seeing that we’re real people.

“A lot of different people have different ideas, but we’ve come to realise we’re the only people running our business. We’re the only ones who understand our customer base, but you have to test advice against your own situation.”

Jess Thomas
Founder, health snacks business Health Lab

“We are really excited about the arrival of Amazon in Australia. As a customer centric business heavily targeted to the biggest online shoppers millennial women, we see any platform that helps make the shopping experience easier and widens the pool of choice for our customers an opportunity. Feedback from our customer base is that they want more choice and access to innovative brands, rather than the simplification strategy major Australian retailers seem to be adopting.

“We see the arrival of Amazon as a huge growth opportunity not just for Health Lab, but the health and wellbeing industry as a whole. I think it’s important Australian businesses embrace innovation in online retail, rather than consider it something to fear.”

Talita Estelle
Founder, Esther.com.au

In a recent SmartCompany profile, Estelle said her community of customers would insulate the fashion business against Amazon’s approach:

“With Amazon coming to Australia, I think it’s how you’re positioned. If you’re not just focused on price and hitting those margins all the time, and doing everything you can to make that dollar, if you have that loyalty built, you’ll be safe. Well, nobody’s ever safe lately, but you will have set yourself apart.

“I think those big online models are very price driven, and in all of retail, the bigger retailers are always going to be there. But if you’ve built something that has a community … I’m not worried. We have a beautiful customer base.”

Ellen Powell
Founder, Blushing Confetti

“As Blushing Confetti is both a wholesale and consumer-facing business, the announcement of Amazon’s entry into the Australian market presents an exciting opportunity. It allows businesses like ours to have a broader reach to new customers.

“We have anticipated a shift in our business to accommodate retail partnerships and have been working behind the scenes on similar opportunities,  such as our soon to be announced partnership with Esther Boutique. The lucrative women’s retail store demonstrates the success of online marketplaces, and is a natural fit with the Blushing Confetti brand. We have equally concentrated efforts on building our brand presence and on the consumer journey as we look to better understand and accommodate the needs of the Blushing Confetti buyer in 2017. I’ve got confidence in Blushing Confetti’s continued strong sales directly to consumers.”

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

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