Friday Interview: Exactly What Does Amazon Down Under Mean For Brands?

Friday Interview: Exactly What Does Amazon Down Under Mean For Brands?
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You can’t turn the page of a national newspaper without seeing yet another story about the imminent arrival of the last of the four horsemen of the apocalypse to Australian shores: Amazon.

Retailers are busy attending workshops to sharpen their “skills” and every one is working on their best American accent so Alexa can understand them.

While horror stories abound about everything from Jeff Bezos’ surly management style through to the wholesale destruction of Australian bricks and mortar retail, it’s an event you really can’t ignore.

Yet even now some people dismiss the development as being as overhyped to the extent of the Y2K bug.

For your delectable Friday consumption, B&T sat down with our resident font of all brand knowledge, CEO of The Brand Institute of Australia Karl Treacher (below), to fill our cup with his wise words.

karl headshot

B&T: When will Amazon actually set up shop in Australia and should we care?

KT: “Anyone selling anything needs to know about Amazon’s launch in Australia. My sources suggest a pre-Christmas launch of Amazon Marketplace is unlikely but possible. Amazon knows how to build brand equity and it has demonstrated that it takes whatever time necessary to understand it’s vendors and local market consumers before pressing go. But when it does press go, my advice is to be on the start line.”

B&T: There’s plenty of horror stories around, are they justified?

KT: “Many Australian vendors won’t understand the opportunity presented by Amazon coming to our shores, but those that do will benefit significantly.

“I expect to see Amazon’s entry heavily influence the marketshare dial across many industries, while helping new brands emerge. Amazon Marketplace is the vehicle of the times, enabling the commercialisation of innovation. It’s a low-risk test bed for brands looking to go to market without the investment and infrastructure of yesteryear.”

B&T: Just how big do you think the impact of Amazon will be?

KT: “The next 18 months will see the online retail landscape evolve. Amazon’s reputation is exceptional so it arrives with a high degree of vendor and consumer trust and excitement. Consumers will welcome Amazon into their field of online shopping choices, smart established vendors will already have contacts in place and product-based start-ups should be right now working through logistics that lead to a presence on Amazon Marketplace.”

B&T: This all sounds pretty positive, give me something to scare the children with:

KT: “The flip side of Amazon in Australia is the enormous pressure it will place on the entire retail sector – particularly the lower end clothing and consumer categories. Big W, K-Mart and Target will no doubt already have strategies in place and Myer have launched their own marketplace, which is a terrific step in the right direction, I just hope it’s not 18 months too late.

Why they didn’t do something exactly like this earlier, like 18 months ago which would have helped reshape their brand image and reputation is a matter for their leadership and board, but they have limited their impact by launching a ‘like’ service at the same time Goliath came to town.

B&T: You’ve singled out Myer before, why’s that?

KT: Like many of us, I grew up with Myer and I sincerely hope it finds a way through the obstacles ahead. The one thing Myer has in it’s favour is the relative unsophistication of a portion of Australian shoppers. For a limited time, some Australian’s will trust an online purchase from Myer over Amazon. It’s a small portion and for a limited time – with a big cliff at the end. It will be very interesting to see how agile Myer can be when it’s time to fly off the cliff or plummet to it’s sad demise. I’m hoping the former. It’s possible and would be a great tale of tenacity and agility from an iconic Australian brand.”

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