What effect will Amazon have on Bundy shoppers?
AMERICAN online retail giant Amazon has launched in Australia but what effect will it have on Bundaberg's bricks and mortar stores as we head into Christmas trade season?
The Australian launch yesterday drew a mixed reaction from Aussie shoppers, with many consumers logging on to the e-commerce giant's local site to access the much-hyped bargains - only to find prices were more or less the same as local retailers.
But CQUniversity social innovation senior lecturer Dr Olav Muurlink said in the long-term, the threat posed by the Amazons of the world was real.
"Humans don't change quickly but they change. So you can see that while the total proportion of global online sales is low, 'just' eight per cent of total retail sales, it's also growing rapidly and steadily, up since 2014 by a further 71 per cent for example,” Dr Muurnik said.
Dr Muurnik said Amazon did not have the brand recognition in Australia that it had in America, so the big Australian brands did have a head-start.
But that advantage may not last long.
"Yes, locals don't trust e-shopping right now but the evidence shows that once they attain the status of being experienced e-shoppers, once they get their hand in, so to speak, they will end up diving right in,” Dr Muurnik said
"Even the older demographic, once it gets the hang of online shopping, surprisingly becomes just as solid in its use of e-shopping as the younger user.”
Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce president Yale Morgan believed Amazon would not have the same market penetration in Bundaberg that it would in metro areas.
"From a Bundaberg retailer's perspective, it's still about focussing on the customer experience,” Mr Morgan said.
"I would still urge people to look at what Amazon has but then pop into your local store and have a conversation.”
Dr Muurnik said it was important small business owners remembered that shopping wasn't always a simple trade.
"What local businesses have that Amazon does not is a relationship with shoppers,” he said.
"Service is critical.
"People are emotional creatures and not every shopping decision gets made on the cold hard metric of cash.
"A great example is the new generation of book shops that play on the three-dimensional feel of books, the sensory experience of books - and add coffee and muffins to the equation, and staff who are real bibliophiles.
"That kind of bookshop is not just surviving but thriving.”