Good customer service and online presence key to competing with Amazon, says Belmont Business Enterprise Centre founding manager

Dakz Menswear owner Wayne Hayes is concerned about the impact of Amazon on small businesses.
Dakz Menswear owner Wayne Hayes is concerned about the impact of Amazon on small businesses.

GOOD customer service and having an online presence have been highlighted as the keys to competing with Amazon.

After months of speculation, the US retail giant launched Amazon Marketplace in Australia this week.

But Belmont Business Enterprise Centre founding manager Carol Hanlon said service was the only way to competing and building customer advocacy and loyalty.

“Create an experience for your customer, experiences that connect with emotions and visual experiences,” she said.

“Provide products and services that provide a unique selling point, as well as innovative, creative and artisan products.

Ms Hanlon said retailers who have not yet embraced an online presence would continue to suffer.

“Research highlights all corporations will have a digital presence by 2020,” she said.

She said retailers who sold branded products based on price such as electronics, beauty products and apparel would be impacted over time.

Wayne Hayes, owner of East Victoria Park business Dakz Menswear, said he was concerned about Amazon’s impact on his business.

“People don’t realise the impact of online businesses on a bricks and mortar shop like mine,” he said.

“We’ve seen a significant reduction of turnover in the past few years and we know that people visit stores to try things on, take a photo and then buy it online.

“I think small independents need to step it up a notch in terms of service to keep our customers.”

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Economist Rick Newnham used the launch to call for increased trading hours.

“Traditional West Australian retailers will soon be disrupted at an unprecedented rate as the shift to online shopping ramps up,” Mr Newnham said.

“Online stores don’t have governments telling them to hit the off switch at 5pm, and neither should WA businesses.”

Ann Smith, owner of Belmont adult entertainment store Sinderellas, said she was an unsure about the impact of Amazon on her business.

“I think it depends on what prices that Amazon offer,” she said.

“Customers want items at a cheap cost but don’t always understand the costs associated with running a business.”

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