The Flat World Is Retailing’s Friend, Not Its Foe

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In this opinion piece Paul Greenberg, the CEO of the National Online Retailers Association, chats about why the government’s ‘netflix tax’ means retailers should be focused on innovation, not domination.

Taxation equity is an emotive topic. As a result, the discussions around the lowering of the GST threshold on imported goods from the current $1000, creates heated debate. The issue has a number of levels and cannot be responded to in a simple way.

Paul Greenberg

My views, are summed up in the following points: The Flat world is more a friend of retail than a foe. Whilst the current debate seems centred around the inequities of taxable thresholds around the world, we have perhaps missed a key point. For Australian retailers, with our domestic addressable market always limited by our small population, the new borderless retail is our biggest opportunity, ever.

We have the chance, to build our addressable market from, well, around twenty five million consumers, to many billions. We all want more tax in the coffers, but what are the costs of collection? Australian’s recognise, and are for, a robust tax system that ensures we can fund our requirements as a society.And my view is that we broadly embrace a consumption tax model. However, we are also commercial and savvy tax payers. And we are sceptical of efforts that would see a tax take offset by the costs of collection.

We would need to see working models that can provide a robust commercial case for a significant net benefit. This is a government decision, and they will need to motivate their case. This issue will not be decided by the retail industry.Australian retail has made major strides over the last five years in embracing ‘new’ retail – a technology led, customer centric and global retail. We embrace competition as an essential ingredient of a good retail ecosystem and we respect and recognize that Australian shoppers can shop wherever, whenever.

Whilst some sectors of Australian retail have been more visible and more active as public lobbyists, in truth the vast majority of the retail ecosystem recognize this is a government decision.

A government call

And government will address the Australian public as and when decisions have been made around moderating or, not, the threshold. For now, Australian retailers should be focused on innovation, not domination. And broadly I believe we are.

Anything that impedes the free flow of parcels is unwelcome New retail is underpinned by the consumer direct renaissance. With sophisticated global supply chains moving parcels across countries, across borders, to the customers front door.

And customers are celebrating the ‘ shop coming to them’ – Anything that slows down, or impedes the increasingly frictionless parcel delivery service would be an unwelcome impediment to a golden era of retail. Government needs to, and I believe does, recognise this fact.

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