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Message from the CEO: 28 November 2017

November 28, 2017

Why we won’t be taking money from Amazon to advocate its agenda over yours

After months of speculation, Amazon’s soft launch on Friday came and went without much ado, however we would be foolish to underestimate how aggressive the behemoth’s market entry will become over the coming months, and years.

Amazon has established its extraordinary customer base by offering a wide range of goods at a low price, with speedy delivery and an incredibly convenient model.

On the surface that sounds unbeatable! But it has carved out an astonishing one-third of online retail in the US, and rising to become its top e-tailer, through ruthless tactics which experts expect will be deployed here – where they can afford to operate at a loss and simply starve out competitors until it gains market dominance.

But if you look into other markets, the story’s different – in France its performance is less than stellar and in Canada it’s really struggling, and losing market share to both domestic and foreign competitors.

Australia has a similar online market as France, with only around eight per cent of total sales online – the vast majority of which goes to highly powerful, domestic retailers who can also afford to wage war on their competitors – namely Amazon.

Due to Australia’s unique market challenges (sparse population, lack of delivery infrastructure, highly complex IR laws, to name a few), experts are tipping Amazon Australia may only reach a position somewhere between Canada’s and France’s, and will struggle (like the rest of us) to overcome our unique logistical challenges.

Regardless of Amazon predictions, we know we’re reached a tipping point in the global consumer evolution, and so do you – you’ve been upping the ante on your own digital channels for some time, with a stronger focus on speed, convenience, fulfilment, delivery, and of course, exceptional customer service.

We know your innovative ways of doing business have helped you weather many a storm, and you’ve managed to survive and thrive in what is also an incredibly exciting time, and the arrival of Amazon will be no different.

The NRA and our newly-announced partner NORA are here to help you stand tall – combining both our organisations’ expertise to support and guide you through this technology push, while continuing to advocate and provide legal support services to the industry.

We are here to help you craft a slow-and-steady approach to using digital channels to build credibility, connection and loyalty, rather than trying to simply attract consumers’ attention to make quick sales in an environment where customers are spoiled for choice – they’re able to get whatever they want, whenever they want, and generally at a price they like, but it’s crucial to remember that customers also seek out retail experiences that make them feel special, and this is what sets you apart.

Australian retailers are offering brilliant customer service across all their channels, with e-commerce being just one component of an overarching approach to individualized attention and building brand loyalty – it’s now virtually impossible to separate clicks from bricks in Australia because ultimately, shoppers want, and expect, to utilise both.

The difference is in being different – Australian retailers can’t, and shouldn’t, imitate a behemoth like Amazon, but can set yourselves apart by spending your time and resources enhancing what makes you different.

We also want to assure you, our loyal, hard-working and dedicated membership, that unlike other Australian retailer organisations and industry associations, we won’t be taking money from Amazon to advocate on its behalf and push its agenda to those who make decisions that affect you.

We are here to continue advocating on your behalf to ensure legislation works in your favour, not Amazon’s. 

Have a great week.

Dominique Lamb, CEO.

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