Retail

Half of Aussie shoppers not keen on Amazon: Will convenience win them over in the end?

Dominic Powell /

Despite plenty of news reports on the ever-nearing launch of retail giant Amazon in Australia, a recent survey has suggested Australians aren’t as excited about its arrival as expected.

A report from comparison and research website finder.com.au has revealed 53% of Australians aren’t keen for the behemoth’s debut Down Under, preferring to keep their business at local bricks-and-mortar stores.

The report surveyed 2,019 shoppers, but only 47% reported they were looking forward to Amazon’s range of products, cheap deals, and fast delivery offerings already available in other countries.

However, Paul Harrison, professor of marketing and consumer behaviour at Deakin University, told SmartCompany Australians “are not very good at predicting how we’ll feel in the future”.

He predicts once Amazon lands, previously dubious consumers could be drawn in by the convenience factor.

“Often when people are asked questions like this, they draw on their previous experience with a service or brand. Until Amazon arrives, we don’t know what their Australian offering will be like,” Harrison says.

“We don’t know what we’re weighing it up against, and convenience will always be a strong factor in consumer preference.”

Of those consumers not aren’t excited about Amazon’s arrival, 14% already believe they can buy everything they want online, and 12% said they prefer to go shopping in store. Nine percent said they were worried about Amazon’s effect on local businesses, which Harrison says is consistent with Australians’ often “very strong” but somewhat transitory feelings about buying local.

“Australians are drawn to shopping local in attitude and objectively, but subjectively we tend to be drawn to other things. We might have very strong feelings about local businesses, but unless we feel incredibly committed to it that can subconsciously change,” he says.

“Shoppers might end up telling themselves that Amazon is a better deal, or that they can’t get down to their local business today.”

To those in the business world, Amazon might be a regular topic of discussion and well-known brand, this might not extend to the general Australian population: nine percent of those surveyed said they had never heard of the American retailer.

The youngest generations are the most excited about fresh deals from Amazon, with 68% of keen respondents being millennials, followed by 47% of Gen X’ers and 26% of Baby Boomers.

Outgoing Metcash boss not worried about the Amazon effect

The report echoes recent comments from the outgoing chief executive of Metcash Ian Morrice, who told Fairfax he was not concerned about the retailer’s effect on the Australian retail and grocery sector, even after Amazon’s acquisition of American grocery chain Whole Foods.

After news of the $17.9 billion deal dropped, retail experts suggested to SmartCompany the retailer could buy up an Australian supermarket chain in a similar manner; an idea Morrice eschewed.

“I still believe fresh foods will not be a model they’ll bring to this market until they’ve perfected it elsewhere,” Morrice told Fairfax.

“They’ve only been five days into potentially buying Whole Foods – I think it’s a massive leaps of faith to think they’re going to be looking into bricks and mortar acquisitions in Australia.”

Despite Metcash-owned IGA not offering click and collect or home delivery services like its competitors Woolworths and Coles, Morrice reinforced he was not afraid of Amazon’s potential reach in the sector.

“Being better at fresh food, being better at servicing the buyer’s unique shopper and getting the offer sufficiently differentiated in store – there’s a much bigger prize there than trying to compete like-for-like with the chain’s online offer,” he told Fairfax.

However, Harrison believes Australian businesses have historically been “pretty poor” at responding to the changing online environment. He points to recent comments from Harvey Norman boss Gerry Harvey as a sign the retail culture was “not necessarily open to the idea” of new online retailers growing here.

“It’s inevitable that companies like Amazon will continue to grow in the online space, and any business who’s response is to cry ‘poor me’ will not succeed,” he says.

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Dominic Powell

Dominic Powell is the lead reporter at StartupSmart.

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