Australian Retailers Association plays down Amazon threat to small business

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is playing down the possible impact the arrival of online giant Amazon will have on local business

ARA boss Russell Zimmerman suggests the best offense is a good defense – saying retailers had been preparing for the arrival of the retailer.

“They are another retailer, there’s nothing anyone can do about it whether you like it or not, they’re coming and retailers need to be prepared for that and it’s what they’ve been doing for a long time,” he told ABC News.

“Like anybody they’ll grow, but online at the moment represents about 7 per cent of the total retail spend and if Amazon only get to 3 or 4 per cent of that 7 per cent, I think I’d be more worried if I was an online retailer, a pure online retailer, than I would be if I was a bricks and mortar retailer.”

By contrast, Harvey Norman founder Gerry Harvey suggested Amazon had a history of driving its competitors broke and cautioned Australian retailers to watch out.

“Amazon are going to put a lot of people out of business who pay taxes, employ people, and the great majority of their jobs that they talk about, it’s like 90 per cent unskilled, probably higher.”

Harvey suggested the rise of Amazon would be detrimental to the spirit of competition and suggested clothing, sports and accessory retailers would be the first to feel the pinch from the retail behemoth’s entry to the market.

“You’ll end up with one big giant who owns everything and pays no tax,” he said.

Last week Amazon announced it would open its first Australian fulfilment centre in Dandenong, in Melbourne’s south, with long-time Amazon employee, Rocco Braeuniger, set to take up the reins of the Australian operations.

The announcement ended months of speculation as to where the online giant would set up shop. The company is now on the hunt for the first of its employees, with Amazon’s Australian director of operations, Robert Bruce, telling media the company would begin recruiting for 100s of jobs immediately.

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Cec is the managing editor of KBB. She is a multimedia professional with over fifteen years experience as an editor on titles as diverse as SX, CULT, Better Pictures, Total Rock, MTV, fasterlouder, mynikonlife and Fantastic Living. She has spent the past four years working as a news journalist covering all the issues that matter in the political, health and LGBTIQ arena. She is the Head of Content at Pinstripe Media and a recent convert to the world of small business.


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