I gathered a sense of “We’re proudly Australian so take that Amazon” when talking with Tony Nash last week. Too right! The CEO and founder of Australia’s largest online bookstore says focusing on one thing, and doing that thing well is one of its key strengths against Amazon.
“There’s nothing really rocket science about it to be fair – it’s really the lay of the land. There’s no doubt that Amazon is a massive success, but they are literally everything to everyone – and when you’re everything to everyone, you can’t be one thing to one channel. When you focus on one channel and you do it really really well, then there will be opportunities.” says Nash.
Booktopia is a pureplay bookstore that only sells books. It’s really quite simple as that, according to Tony Nash, who went on to explain that Booktopia’s opportunity when it comes to Amazon in Australia is precisely that: “focusing on one thing, books only, and doing the best in what we do.”
“In our case, it’s a lot of engagement with the publishers, it’s promoting new authors, and pre orders of books, and we’re talking to our customers, letting them know about giveaways and prizes and author signings. The authors are coming into our studios in Sydney, where they’re being interviewed by a book expert, and that’s the fundamentals. While that’s just good selling, the truth is, it creates opportunities for everyone.”
According to Nash, in those countries and continents where Amazon is already quite established, including North America and Europe, there are multi billion dollar retailers that are growing and doing great things in those markets. “Just because Amazon has been able to obliterate in some instances, or disrupt in others, and perhaps taken the market share that some of the incumbents have had, there are still plenty others that are going gangbusters.”
Any why is that? Nash says a lot of it has to do with having the right mindset and focusing on the right things. “They’re focusing on the opportunities. They’re focusing on what they can win, rather than that the fact that they’re scared or worried about Amazon. Your attitude is your choice. You can choose to feel negative and downtrodden, or you can think ‘Hold on a second. What are the opportunities here?’”
Nash says that while Amazon will bring about some disruption, it will also bring about some positive changes in Australia’s e-commerce landscape, including increasing the uptake of Australians buying online. “At the moment we sit around seven percent, while North America and Europe are around 15 percent or even more, so there’s going to be more people buying online, and more people talking about buying online.”
The other thing that the company’s chief executive says is that Australian online retailers need to come to grips with is the speed-to-deliver. “If you’re going to operate in 2017 and beyond in the Australian market, you need to have the product in stock and you need to get it to the customer fast, because any less than that, and you won’t be able to get any market share.”
Here are Booktopia’s key strengths when compared with Amazon:
- Amazon is not a great website to browse and discover; it’s a great website to buy when you know what you want. Booktopia has a more sophisticated book buyer and book readers browsing experience.
- Booktopia are a destination that people will more likely want to read or listen to or watch. Its content includes stories around authors, the inspiration behind their books, and its basically content that can be consumed by an industry that people love.
- Booktopia has an automated an sophisticated distribution centre, which includes high level automation and packing capabilities, enabling it to getting the book out to the customer on the same day, which is on par with Amazon’s delivery promises. The company also holds 130,000 titles in stock, which is important in getting the product out faster.
- Lastly, Booktopia focuses on Australian content and its catalogue is Australian centric. Its customers can shop from a large selection of books that are written by Australian authors, which is certainly a strength that it has over Amazon.
“It’s not about David and Goliath. It’s not about walking down there with your slingshot and saying ‘I’m going to take out the giant.’ Not at all. In the case of books, the industry in Australia is worth about $2.4 billion, that’s including everything that gets shipped offshore. If Amazon won 60 percent of the market share, that still leaves $1 billion for the rest of us.”