It’s not often that the stuff of blogs like this makes it to the front page of our newspapers and the headline of our television news.
But that’s what the Australian Retailers Association and some of its prominent members have achieved.
No, not because of a good news story – that one of its members has cornered the global market for its chosen speciality, nor that the internet has effectively eliminated the tyranny of distance that has always been our millstone.
Instead it’s that these prominent members are threatening to set up offshore if the Government doesn’t provide them with a so called taxation level playing field.
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Of course the Government should do nothing of the sort. Because the odds are already stacked well in favour of Australia’s retailers.
Anyone who has ever shopped online understands that selling from offshore is a virtual minefield.
The disadvantages of selling offshore
As we mentioned here a few weeks back, overseas retailers have to contend with the not inconsiderable barriers of delivery costs, delivery delays, fluctuating exchange rates and a lack of tangibility (ie. authenticity of the retailer) that retailers based in Australia don’t have.
Not to mention the fundamental honourable intentions of local shoppers to support Aussie businesses.
That’s right, despite what the ARA tells us, offshore retailers are already at a significant disadvantage compared to local ones.
What the real problem is, is local retailers reluctance to embrace this revolutionary medium.
The song remains the same
You’ve heard it all before so I won’t bore you with the countless anecdotes of how lazy or technophobic many of our retailers are, or what are now countless success stories of entrepreneurs who have taken advantage of the sloth of their bricks and mortar counterparts to build brilliant online businesses.
The fact is that online shoppers can’t find local suppliers of the products they are looking for, and that even if they do, the lack of online competition means they are paying a relative premium.
So when shoppers buy offshore, retailers really have no one to blame but themselves for not heeding the trend that so many of us have been prattling on about for years now.
Get mad as hell, and don’t take it anymore
So if you are a retailer, you should not sit on your hands and await the outcome of this cynical and damaging grab for tax concessions.
Instead, tap into the myriad of (often free) excellent courses, white papers, articles, seminars and webinars about selling online and arm yourself with the knowledge required to stake your claim on the online goldmine that your more web savvy counterparts have moved in on.
Of course, the cost of all of these are tax deductible – a far more productive means of using taxation to your advantage than a defensive and distracting whinge to the Government.
Once you have the knowledge, you can take advantage of the online selling platforms that for what amounts to literal petty cash, can offer your products to a waiting and willing online world.
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.