Online shopping has the ability to hurt local businesses 

ONE wonders what local retailers must think of the latest plan by Australia’s large brands to engage in the world of online selling.

This week  Click Frenzy, modelled on the US’s Cyber Monday, was announced. It will see brands like Myer, Target and Sportscraft offer huge discounts and bargain deals. 

Other  major chains including Target, Jeanswest, The Iconic, Style Tread, Kogan, Booktopia, Dan Murphy’s, Just Jeans, Portmans, Dick Smith, Dotti, Deals Direct, Bing Lee and Ted’s Cameras are part of the 150-strong group.

For buyers, it may be deemed a bonanza. Small, independent retailers must just shake their heads.

Already, many are struggling to comprehend online competition from overseas where, given the strong Australian dollar, items can be bought at below cost and with little postage costs.

The mass offerings on overseas websites allows them to undercut similar local items.

While the dangers online retailing poses to smaller operators has been well documented, the group approach offered during Click Frenzy poses even greater challenges. As organiser Grant Arnott suggested this week: “The whole aim is to stimulate activity in the online retail space for the benefit of all Australian retailers whether they are online or multichannel. There’s a new breed of shopper emerging and they’re multi-screen, sitting at night watching TV and using their iPad or their tablet to shop at the same time.”

The problem being that “all” retailers are not involved. Indeed, only those with significant state or national audience are involved. Hardly good news for local businesses which still rely primarily upon walk-in customers.

Still, every good idea is often stolen from somewhere. Just like the Click Frenzy model is based upon the event already occurring in the United States, there, potentially, are opportunities for retailers on the local front to create their own online sale day, not unlike the old fashioned street markets but for the digital world.

Easier said than done. Either way, the challenges for local retailers, and therefore local jobs, remain a moving feast in the current environment. Let’s hope consumers realise the implications of what is happening in this environment.

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