Is the eCommerce penny finally dropping for Australian retailers?
“Big brands take over online retail” it announced.
At face value, there’s nothing new in that. Big brands like Amazon and eBay have ruled the online roost for quite some time now.
But dig a little deeper and the golden revelations become apparent.
Online top 10 has a familiar ring
While eBay and Amazon’s unique visitors together easily outstrip the remaining eight Australian eCommerce websites combined in the top 10, what stands out like the proverbial on the list is the dominance of traditional retailers.
Only four of the top 10 are online only destinations, while the rest are household retail names like Woolworths, JB Hi-Fi, Big W and Dick Smith – all of whose websites are experiencing significant visitor growth.
Does this trend finally mean that the eCommerce penny is starting to drop for traditional retailers?
Threat becomes opportunity
If so, its significance should not be underestimated. Because up until now, the industry’s response to the web has been one of suspicion and fear, rather than an appreciation of the myriad of opportunities many of us have been prattling on about for some time.
It also signifies a rapid change in strategy. It’s only been a few months since the industry banded together to lobby the government to alter its import and GST laws so as (in their words) to create a level playing field.
Unfortunately for them this strategy backfired and only seemed to both promote offshore purchasing and galvanise the public (further) against them.
Will small retailers respond?
One hopes the online success of some of these big retailers might pave the way for smaller retailers to follow suit as the smaller end of town continues to see the web as a threat rather than the golden opportunity it represents.
One recent example of just how threatening they perceive it to be was reported by a Queensland based online retailer. It appears one of their suppliers was told that they weren’t able to stock them any longer because one of their bricks and mortar customers were upset that they were supplying one of these ‘upstart’ online retailers.
Strange but true!
The shame about all of this suspicion and fear is that it is only putting those who resist the online world further and further behind the eight ball.
Times are already tough for many retailers. The last thing they want is to lose more business to an online competitor.
Attention retailers: Get online now!
So the advice of this correspondent to the operators of smaller retail businesses remains the same as it’s been for the last decade.
If you don’t look after your customers online your competitors will!
So go out and take advantage of the swathe of information about selling online and start doing something about it.
Take advantage too of the massive decreases in eCommerce shopping cart technology which is now available for what amounts to petty cash.
And if it all looks too hard, hire in some expertise which again, won’t cost the earth compared to the cost of doing nothing at all.
Before its all too late…
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.