BALLARAT’S fast, widespread national broadband network makes it an ideal location for high-tech activity that retailers must tap into, a tech expert claims.
Futurist Chris Riddell says physical retailers need to create points of difference, by giving their shoppers both online and instore experiences.
Mr Riddell spoke to dozens of tech-savvy retailers at a conference aimed to inform store of owners ways in which they could harness technology to add value to their existing business.
Mr Riddell referred to a recently released Australia Post study that found Ballarat has one of Victoria’s strongest online shopping contingents.
The Inside Australian Online Shopping report highlights online shopping trends between January 2014 and December 2015.
It stated Ballarat consistently ranks in the top five in the state for purchases in a number of fields.
“According to current figures, Australian $19 billion (was spent) online in 2015 – which was 12 per cent higher than the previous year,” an Australia Post spokesperson said.
The report shows that Ballarat had the highest number of online purchases out of any regional Victoria area – ahead of Geelong suburb Grovedale.
It also ranked third overall for Victorian postcodes.
“The study found that, outside of the CBD, Ballarat was the third most popular online shopping suburb in the state – beaten only by Point Cook and Hoppers Crossing,” the spokesperson said.
Mr Riddell said the figures showed Ballarat residents were keen shoppers who liked buying products – the challenge was getting them to spend their dollars in Ballarat.
“There is a future for retail in regional Australia. We need to dispel the myths that physical stores will die. That is not true,” Mr Riddell said.
“Businesses need to employ people who are passionate about the brand. They can use social media to research out to their customers.
“They are driving people into their store by showing them an experience.”
Mr Riddell said cafes harnessed technology really well by sharing food on instagram. This free service lured people into the cafe for free and encouraged diners to interact by posting their own pictures of the food.
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