A Plea to Australian Retailers as the Amazon Juggernaut Approaches

The world’s largest online retailer is coming; and by all accounts, it is out for blood. What should Australian retailers do?

You’ve got an internet connection, you’re reading this blog, so I have to assume you haven’t been living off the grid. So surely by now, you must have heard by now that Amazon is on its way to Australian shores.

This is a big deal.

The world’s largest online retailer is coming; and by all accounts, it is out for blood (well, figuratively speaking). It seems every day I see a news clip, article or blog predicting an all-out retail war for the Australian consumers’ loyalty — and more importantly, dollars. Incumbent organisations in the firing line who deal in electronics, entertainment, groceries and clothing are the ones in the most danger. Every expert and analyst is predicting that they’ll need to drop prices faster than one of Wile E Coyote’s falling boulders to compete with this juggernaut.

I’d like to offer a different view. I’d like to plead for these Australian retailers to not buy into the hype. Halt your plans to cut prices drastically, offer two-for-one deals, three-for one, heck, even four-for-one deals. Don’t take the easy way out and shut stores/cut jobs to drive down overheads or worse, copy the Amazon model and focus solely on your new and improved digital offering. I’m here to plead with Australian retailers to go back to the drawing board, and remember what made Australian consumers fall in love with you in the first place. Why are you still here while so many other businesses have failed?

We Australians are a stubborn lot, patriotic to the bone. Its why in the hearts of most, Aussie Rules Football reigns supreme, despite soccer or basketball’s international presence. It’s why McDonald’s Australia was one of the few international markets to thrive while McDonald’s America floundered. We led the charge with the introduction of McCafe (The world’s first McCafe opened in Melbourne in 1993) when the rest of the world scoffed at the idea of McDonald’s and coffee together — and now, the rest of the world can’t get enough. McDonald’s has recognised the uniqueness that is their Australian customer to the point where any new menu offerings are trialled here before anywhere else, no matter how crazy the concoction might be. (Have you been to the secret McDonald’s?)

Please, Australian retailers, take the time out to re-focus on your customer. What are they telling you that will help you understand how to retain our business? Most importantly, why do we choose to do business with you? Focus on delivering that great service and value for money that we deserve. Focus on getting your own house in order. Are you running your organisation as efficiently as possible? Are progress, change, and innovative thinking being held up by bureaucracy and a culture resistant to change? Do you have the best minds available to help you steer the ship through the approaching storm?

Please, Australian retailers, don’t take the easy way out and just cost cut or promote flashy short term offers to keep our business. These strategies are often temporary and result in you driving yourselves out of business.

Please, Australian retailers, take on the challenge head on. Use this as an opportunity to get back to that creative thinking that got you to where you are today. Adapt, evolve, improve.

Show us your commitment to your customers, and we will support you till the end.

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