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The Amazonian Age: A New Era For Retailing

Although I am a seasoned online shopper and regularly buy books on Amazon, I have mixed feelings about the impending arrival of Amazon in Australia. There have been lots of differing opinions offered about how Amazon will impact our local retail scene, and it will be interesting to see how the Amazon offer is embraced by Australian customers. Most retailers that I have spoken to are feeling somewhat apprehensive about this significant new entrant to our market - unsure of how to not only survive, but how to thrive in an Amazonian age.

What is going to generate success for bricks and mortar retailers? Despite disruptions, the store is still at the centre of retail. The key is to integrate the benefits of digital retailing into the physical environment. Retailers who offer consumers the best of both worlds can create a reimagined, highly responsive and exceptionally engaging shopping experience. 

I, for one, am excited to see how Aussie retailers can turn the inevitable changes ahead into a positive. It's an opportunity to step up the physical retail experience into something truly special.

Onward and upward.

Katie Miles, Managing Director

Even before the arrival of Amazon, online shopping is devastating Australian retail. In the past year, sales in physical stores grew only 3% while online shopping grew almost 10%. Foot traffic in physical stores has fallen by almost 5% this year alone.* Source: Inside Retail Online.

For the past five years, a team at Monash Business School have surveyed Australian retailers to find their perceptions of, and satisfaction with, the top Australian shopping centre operators.

The survey has some good news – shopping centre operators are improving in the eyes of retailers. Despite the challenges of decreased footfall and slowing turnover growth, retailer ratings of the performance of their shopping centre landlords have steadily improved over the past five years.

Through a collaborative approach, there is an opportunity for both retailers and landlords to thrive in modern retail. Many centres are now making space available for short-term, flexible leases to encourage emerging brands to showcase their stock through pop-up stores. Others are focused on the local community, providing additional community services to become a new-age form of a town centre.

1. The Store Is Still The Centre Of Retail

Active retailers are those that move quickly and innovate continuously. If you can integrate the benefits of digital retailing into the physical environment—or for a “pure- play” online retailer, determine where to open physical stores as an extension of the digital experience, you have the ingredients for a successful brand that will not only survive, but thrive in the modern retail space. Retailers can empower their store associates to engage, personalise, promote and sell any product or service. There is absolutely no substitute for engaging, authentic and heart felt human interaction. Make it real and make it memorable (for all the right reasons!), and customers will come back.

2. Bring Online & Offline Marketing Together

If your brand has separate budgets and disconnected campaigns between various channels then you’re an ‘old retailer’, causing friction for the customer and resulting in a disappointing customer experience. Old retailers do not have a healthy future, according to NORA’s Paul Greenberg.

“New retailers are still in business and old retailers are going out of business,” Greenberg says. “Digital Darwinism is alive and well. If you want to stay in business, become a new retailer. If you want to go out of business, don’t become one.” 

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3. Use Digital Data To Your Advantage

Whilst half of millennials (especially younger ones) prefer shopping in physical stores to shopping online, a whopping 70% are comfortable with retailers tracking their digital purchasing and browsing behaviours if it means they’ll receive more relevant digital communications. 70% are frustrated when they receive digital communications that are irrelevant to their interests or browsing history.* While we’re seeing much more mobile traffic than we ever have in previous years, especially with the younger buyer, our survey found that bricks-and-mortar is alive and well with millennials, and the need for a strong, well-executed and cohesive omnichannel presence beyond online is key when capturing millennial spend. Millennials are more than willing to provide personal data. They know this will help tailor their online offerings to suit them better. Retailers must use this data to their advantage to ensure a seamless omni channel experience, or risk losing a millennial customer to a competitor who is simply doing it better.

*Research from multichannel behavioral marketing platform SmarterHQ.


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On average, more than half of shoppers (51%) say package label claims are either extremely or very important to their product purchases.

Nearly 4 in 10 shoppers say they would switch to a new brand from a current preferred brand in favour of increased product transparency. In fact, 73% of them would be willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency.

Field Agent Australia surveyed 500 Australians on its all-mobile panel to identify the most influential label claims across eight product categories. 

So, what on-package claims really engage shoppers and influence which product they pick up from the shelf?

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The Realise Group's National Account Director, Kate Gorman (centre), shown with Russell Zimmerman, Radek Sali & Roger Gillespie.

The Realise Group's National Account Director, Kate Gorman (centre), shown with Russell Zimmerman, Radek Sali & Roger Gillespie.

Held at the beautiful National Gallery of Victoria, this year’s Australian Retailers Association (ARA) Awards was a profound reminder of the vibrant passion that encapsulates the retail industry.

The Realise Group sponsored the People's Choice Award. Based on extensive customer satisfaction surveys, independent field research and mystery shopping, Myer was the undisputed retailer of choice in the eyes of Australian consumers. With customer-centricity at the core of their business philosophy, Myer's offerings are focused around experiential shopping, seamless omni-channel journeys and personalised services through forward-thinking technology. Bunnings came in as runner's up.


Customer expectations are always increasing – with customers more demanding now than ever before. 

Take a leaf out of Amazon's leadership principles, their number one point being that of Customer Obsession.

Leaders start with the customer, then work backward. They work vigorously to earn and keep the customers' trust. Although they are aware of their competitors, they obsess over their customers first and foremost.

Consumers want to have effective, satisfying interactions with your brand, and that requires you to create a culture and infrastructure that supports this, including empowering employees with the information, tools and confidence to open and sustain an ongoing dialogue. Only then will you be able to woo, wow and win them.