Last week’s arrival of online retail giant Amazon, rising rents and the slow economy have led Kalamunda businesswoman Lisa Beeby to close the doors at Homestyle Furniture after 30 years.
Ms Beeby predicted more businesses would go under once Amazon was established in Australia.
“What a lot of people don’t know about Amazon is that they don’t just sell books,” she said.
“It is a huge machine selling every conceivable product and once it gets going in Australia it will be even harder for independent retailers and the big national companies to survive.”
Kalamunda-based marketing and business strategist Barry Urquhart said Amazon would bring about rapid and significant change in the sector and local retailers needed to be prepared.
“While retailers knew Amazon was coming and were preparing for its assault, the reality of it landing in this market and the urgency with which it now appears to be moving ought to be unsettling for retailers,” he said.
“There is a lot of ill-informed misinformation and a large measure of ignorance and complacency about what Amazon means to people’s businesses.
“There is little appreciation of the nature and complexity of what Amazon means.”
Mr Urquhart said local businesses needed to dispel the belief they would be protected because they were operating in the most isolated capital city in the world.
“Amazon always stands on the marketplace and says ‘we will save you up to 30 per cent on typical retail prices’,” he said.
“The arrival of Amazon will be unquestionably good news for customers but it will be a major challenge for retailers.”
Mr Urquhart said businesses could thrive and survive, but change was needed in the sector.
“Our problem is retail businesses in Australia are largely founded on a business model founded in the 1950s,” he said.
“If you don’t have a website that is active, undertake multi-channel marketing and do so rapidly, you will be out of touch with what will be the norm in two years.”
Ms Beeby urged the community to support their local businesses.
“Amazon might offer exceptional customer service and save you money, but you will never get that personal service that you would at independent businesses,” she said.
“We also need to be mindful that the less people shop locally, the more likely it will be that we will end up with big nationals.”
Last week Amazon confirmed its first Australian ‘fulfilment centre’ would be a 24,000sq m facility in Victoria.