Why Amazon could be the small retailer's friend

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Why Amazon could be the small retailer's friend

With the right preparation, the big retailer’s launch into Australia might actually help some local stores, according to a retail expert.

Much of the coverage about the impending arrival of Amazon's retail operation in Australia has been cast in terms of doom and gloom. But there is another perspective.

Dave Scheine, country manager at cloud point-of-sale provider Vend, says his company works with many small and mid-sized independent retailers and agrees “there's a lot of trepidation” about Amazon.

But the experience in the US and UK is that people are still buying in-store. “People still want to go to shops” for certain categories of products, Scheine says.

Generic items, notably books and consumer electronics, are purchased almost exclusively on price, he says, so Amazon is primarily a threat to the large retailers.

Smaller players can offer their customers a curated experience, he says, echoing the advice given by Hardtofind founder and CEO Erica Stewart in our Amazon survival guide earlier this year.

Where Stewart advised thinking carefully about using Amazon as a selling platform, Scheine expects it will be possible to continue to run your own online store while using Amazon's fulfilment services.

Amazon has spent billions developing a logistics system, and – if the US situation is any guide – retailers will be able to use Amazon as their warehouse, shipping orders directly to customers and delivering stock to physical stores as required.

Scheine – who had an internship at Amazon during his MBA studies – expects to see a ‘click and collect’ become a popular option here as well.

So, he says, retailers should start developing omnichannel strategies if they haven't already done so. “People are going to buy through lots of different channels” including social media such as Instagram, so it's time to start thinking about that.

The arrival of Amazon is going to raise the game for ecommerce both in terms of customer numbers and customer expectations. “Ultimately, it's going to improve the customer experience” but “small business has to adapt.”

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