By Aimee Chanthadavong

The argument between online and offline retailing is slowly fading. This is being driven by retailers realising that in order to be successful in ‘new retailing’ it’s necessary to have both fronts as part of the business – not one or the other.

As a result, this is driving customers back to shopping as retailers are now servicing customer demands, like offering greater product choices at more competitive prices and are making themselves available anywhere, anytime.

Speaking at the Rakuten Marketing Symposium Sydney 2013, Paul Greenberg, CEO of the National Online Retailers Association (NORA), said he believes these movements represent the sector’s steps towards a retail renaissance.

“There was like a civil war going on between online and offline retailers,” he said.

“But if we look at it a bit more, the Australian retail system is a bit like an ecosystem made up of a diverse range of online, offline, supply chains, software technology, affiliate marketing and so on. This has all shifted towards a new technology-led form of retail, which has put the Australian shopper back into the frame, giving them a good reason to shop local.”

But no doubt like any form of change, Greenberg said a majority of the Australian retailer sector has struggled with it, admitting many “well established retailers have resisted the change”. Although others like Shoes of Prey and ASOS have managed to build international footprints.

“This new age of retail is about the hyper-connected shopper who is shopping across different borders and thanks to social media are shopping in pacts,” Greenberg said.

So as the great divide between what retailers should provide and customers want is shrinking, where does that leave retailing?

“The future of retail is really about retailers focusing on their customers and simply responding to what their customers want,” Greenberg said.

“Retailers have been under a lot of pressure but they’re starting to build on what they already have. So I think we’ll see a lot of established retailers do really well and some established online retailers like DealsDirect and GraysOnline build on their experiences and learning too. But of course mistakes are all part of the journey.

“I think a renaissance is about turning things around and I think we’re at the inflexion point of at the moment.”