By Aimee Chanthadavong

Presenting to a room of retailers at the Engage In E-tail Seminar in Sydney, Simon Smith, Quantium director and former managing director of eBay, said retailers need to have an online presence and adopt a multi-channel operation.

He highlighted that all retailers are being affected by online retailing whether or not consumers are buying in their category as consumer behaviour are constantly being influenced by what is happening online nowadays.

Smith suggested the reason behind this strong shift – despite the fact that only four out of the top 20 players in the industry are online retailers – is due to the strong Australian dollar where there is a “strong correlation” in how it has influenced consumers to buy online.

Additionally, he said that many first purchases by consumers are often known as distress purchases because the product they want is not available locally and “the strong Australian dollar gives them that extra boost to buy online, so it’s unlikely to see that if the Australian dollar drops, consumers will stop buying from overseas”.

Smith also indicated that new technologies like smartphones and the availability of different shopping applications such as RedLaser, which enables consumers to compare prices between in-store products and the same product sold on an online store, are also driving this online shopping behaviour. 

The half-day event was hosted by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and the Australian Sporting Goods Association (ASGA) to help retailers understand about online trade and e-commerce.

“Businesses need to embrace the online opportunities. As the internet and other technologies will continue to have a profound affect on consumer behaviour, of course retail is driven by consumer demand and together the ARA and the ASGA are keen to see retailers respond to this significant change to this consumer behaviour,” Russell Zimmerman, ARA executive director, said.