‘Technology is biggest influence on retail’

Retail practise leader from Ferrier Hodgson, James Stewart told the gathering of suppliers and retailers the the ASGA Boardroom lunch that now is the toughest period in retail for 20 years, with consumers changing spending habits. Editor Maggie Coleman reports

“And the single biggest change since the introduction of television is technology in general rather than just the internet.

“There is a structural shift and now, due to technology, consumers are more powerful than retailers, for the first time ever.

Below trend growth will continue over the next 12 months, he says, and one of the reasons is the $3 billion drain on Australia’s economy by the 7.4 million Aussies who travelled overseas in 2011.

Stewart said engaging with consumers was the vital issue, and that Facebook is ‘the new owner of truth’ – social media is all about engaging with consumers whose perception of value has changed.

“ Any growth in retail to come will come from web-influenced sales,” James Stewart told the lunch gathering.

Head of retail, Asia/Pacific for KPMG, George Svinos agreed that making retail sales is much more challenging now and that consumers are changing - they are moving to the coast in greater numbers and impacted by fly-in/fly-out.

Australia is also being more influenced by our much greater Asian populations rather than Mediterranean as in previous generations, Svinos said, with consumers buying different products.

He acknowledged the impact of online sales on retailers and wholesalers, with online sales at $10.5 billion or five percent of overall sales, and said that there are several issues which must be addressed to sell online successfully.

These include:

• you need accurate and current realtime inventory information;

• decide how to fulfill orders, including fulfilling from dedicated warehouses or from your local stores;

• which payment smart phone apps will you use, as credit cards near the end of their lives;

• how do you plan to clear excess and stale inventory; and

• remember you will be competing on a global not domestic basis.

Founder of Empirica Research Dr David Neal told the gathering of the extensive survey of the health of the sports retail industry his company had undertaken on behalf of ASGA and just a few of its startling conclusions.

Among these were the significant growth in the number of people purchasing sporting goods online.

The research study, undertaken by Empirica Research, surveyed 1000 shoppers and sports participants, revealing online purchases of sporting goods, in particular footwear and apparel, is higher than purchases in other consumer merchandise categories.


The research revealed that 11.5 percent purchased footwear online, with 6.8 percent of those purchases at offshore online retailers, and 7.6 percent purchased clothing online.

The research also revealed that shoppers are becoming more accustomed to online purchasing and more willing to purchase goods from an online retailer – 14 percent would buy footwear from an online retailer and up to 15 percent would buy apparel items online.

Many consumers are purchasing and will purchase goods from Australian online providers.

Sporting goods retailers have been some of the first to embrace online retail and are offering consumers this channel to market.

Neal reported that the age group most likely to buy sports apparel online was the 35-54 year-olds, while the younger age group (18-34) buys most sports footwear online.

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