Economy

Retail expert warns of international threat – so which companies are planning an Aussie invasion?

Engel Schmidl /

International retailers are more of a threat than the GST threshold. At least that’s the opinion of online retail veteran Paul Greenberg, who says the industry is facing more overseas competition than ever before.

“We’re just seeing a lot more entrants from overseas now, and people are very interested in Australia and what’s happening here,” Greenberg told SmartCompany this morning.

Greenberg attended a conference overseas last week, where he was able to converse with some big international retailers interested in the Australian market.

It’s no wonder. Companies such as ASOS and Amazon have been recording a significant amount of Australian transactions. ASOS even said last year Australia is its second biggest market – this type of attention has caused companies to cater to local shoppers, offering free or cheap shipping.

And, as Greenberg points out, now they’re very interested in coming to Australia, following entrances from companies like Zara, Costco and Topshop.

For now, Greenberg says, it’s better to focus on that rather than the in-fighting. “There is a lot of activity in this area… and it’s important we see what’s happening.”

Plenty of international retailers have entered Australia in the past few years. So who are we still waiting for?

Modcloth

Modcloth has been one of the fastest growing women’s fashion sites, and sources tell us the company is very interested in the local market.

In fact, SmartCompany hears Australian transactions represent about 10% of the company’s overall revenue already without the company even having an Australian presence.

This chain, which caters to quirkier tastes, is growing more popular. An Australian branch, or at least some sort of support, is definitely on the cards.

Uniqlo

This isn’t a rumour – Japanese group Uniqlo is set to open in Australia. Last year, the company’s chairman Tadashi Yanai – Japan’s second richest man – said they’d like to open an Australian site this year.

Fans have been calling for a local shop for a while now, citing the casual, cheap and basic nature of the clothes as an attraction.

Shoppers may not have long to wait. Reports indicate representatives have been scouting locations for the past couple of months.

Amazon

Australians have been buying books from Amazon for years, but it’s never actually maintained a local website – although recent rumours suggest that may change soon.

With the company looking at maintaining a data centre here, it was only a matter of time before the rumours started seeping in about the company establishing a retail presence. As it stands, Amazon is definitely interested in setting up here.

Of course, that would disrupt the local retail industry in a huge way. If users start buying their books and other retail goods from Amazon, which offers cheaper prices and potentially faster shipping times, then the local industry will have more to complain about than the GST threshold.

H&M

Swedish chain H&M has been rumoured to enter Australia for years. The last we heard was the company had sent scouts to Australia looking for potential locations, but apart from that, there’s been no official word.

Despite the fact the company has over 2,000 stores worldwide, there are precious few in the Asia-Pacific. However, like every other company rumoured to be entering the local market, H&M has said it finds the Australian market “interesting”.

Given the company records a significant amount of Australian transactions on its website, it’s only a matter of time before H&M makes an official announcement.

 

 

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