This topic of debate at the upcoming Ecommerce Conference in Melbourne is already raising eyebrows – what’s your view?
When the first Online Retailer Conference was held in Australia in 2009, Aussie retailers both pureplay and multichannel were widely rubbished for being years behind the US and UK markets.
In subsequent years, the ridicule became a much harder pill to swallow as the ‘advanced’ digital retailers of the Northern Hemisphere began to pick off local customers in increasing numbers. It has been a terrible awakening for many retailers, some of whom claim to have been bombed out of existence by GST-exempt foreign parcels raining down on shoppers across the nation.
Come 2014, where are we at? Australian retail has a lot to be proud of – a lot to learn, admittedly – but the needle has moved a long, long way in the last five years. The question is, have we ‘caught up’ to our counterparts in the far north? Are we there yet?
Or are we better than we give ourselves credit for? I head overseas two or three times a year and though there are some retailers who certainly rise above the rest, the ‘pack’ sits, in my opinion, in worse shape than the state of Australian retail today. I’m a proud citizen of this country, and I state with a completely biased view that I’d put a number of local retailers, online and multichannel, ahead of their counterparts in the US and UK. Local retailers are often punching well above their weight, especially considering the logistics challenges this big brown land poses to direct-to-consumer delivery. And what about New Zealand? There are some great examples of digital retail across the ditch.
Then there’s Amazon… and Zappos. And ASOS. And Gilt. These exemplars of online retail are monoliths, disrupting their markets and changing retail practices across the globe. These are the brands we look up to and revere as the upper echelon of e-commerce, but how far off are we, if at all? Amazon is an absolute giant, but as for the others, are we in the same league with some of our top local practitioners?
So on balance, all things considered, who’s better at e-commerce now? North or South? This is the tantalising subject of the debate I’m looking forward to at the E-Commerce Expo and Conference in Melbourne next month, where locals face off against international panelists.
And you? What do you think? Has the local industry come up to a competitive standard, or are we still way behind the US and UK? Who would you rate in Australia (or New Zealand) as being able to match it with any online retailer in the world?
It’s something I know is discussed a lot at industry networking events, and I’m looking forward to getting your views in the comments below.
If you want to be part of the debate and the conference in Melbourne next month, visit www.ecomexpomelbourne.com.au to see who’s speaking – dates are March 25-27.