Amazon executives have been quoted saying (paywall) it’s mission for arriving in Australia is to “destroy the retail environment in Australia”.
But is it really?
We have seen disruption here before. Uber has changed the way we think about car services, about regulation for taxis and chauffeur services.
Airbnb has changed the way we look at accommodation, other like couch surfer change how we see a spare room.
Streaming services like Netflix have changed the way we use the television in our lounge room.
These have changed the way the traditional business models work, taxi companies have to become more responsive to customer needs, accommodation providers need to provide a more rounded service.
Interesting isn’t it that these disruptive businesses are not focusing on themselves but on the customer (and in many cases the provider of the goods or service – the new small business operator). These services have only achieved success because they are answering a need and doing it better than the traditional.
Customer service has become the focus.
Sure it is still about being profitable all businesses are about being profitable, otherwise you might as well just give stuff away.
The distribution model Amazon uses and its’ sheer size and ability to move stock, is actually an opportunity for Australia’s small retail businesses to reach bigger audiences.
I know of many Australian retailers who are operating on sites such as ebay. Why build an e-commerce site when you can use the power and exposure provided by an established site like ebay? The same could apply to Amazon through it’s Vendor or Seller Central channels.
Content 26 has a great article detailing the difference between these options. Producers or manufacturers can sell to Amazon (become direct suppliers) or a retailer can be partner with the online giant and supply the products or services via the Amazon portal. Similar in many ways to how they operate on ebay.
But it’s not only joining the cult of Amazon that can work in small retailers favour.
The biggest risk to Amazon and greatest opportunity for small business is distribution. Australia is a big country with a small population. Fast delivery is only possible in the big cities, and probably only some or part thereof. The demand for product today, right now will remain. The small shopping centre or specialist retailer can still provided that product or service to their local consumers.
The issue isn’t what impact Amazon will have, it needs to be what changes will Australian retailers make.
The taxi industry moved too slowly to provide the sleek, customer focus experience Uber delivered.
Many smaller accommodation providers shifted or adapted to Airbnb’s model, the larger operators shifted focus to corporate and conference markets.
Free-to-air television have embraced Freeview and provide many streaming options, ABC iView is still the best IMHO,
What will retail do in reaction to this?
Will we see more of Gerry Harvey on the pulp current affair show, beating his brow and lamenting on the disruption to his industry. Will we see Australian retailers refocus and come back to providing the core needs of the consumer?
What are your thoughts?
Originally posted on LinkedIn