Apparently, the short answer to this question is yes.
It seems that Australian businesses are still resisting going online, dismissing social media and refusing to divert their attention and budget away from traditional sales channels.
A recent study by Experian revealed that over half of Australian retailers are without an online profile and most aren’t planning to change this anytime soon.
Not only are Aussie retailers shying away from interacting with consumers on social media sites, but they are also lagging behind foreign counterparts in other areas, such as website capabilities.
Experian found that 53% of retailers don’t have any online transaction capabilities, with 44% having no plans to introduce this to their websites in the coming months, and only 42% are offering online refunds.
In a more social sense, 62% of Australian retailers don’t have a Facebook page, 54% don’t use Twitter and don’t plan to change this in the next year and a staggering 72% have no interest in Pinterest, despite experimentation and uptake in other regions.
Why are we lagging behind so much in this area?
Ruslan Kogan believes the reason some retailers lack interest in going online is because the internet has “brought transparency” to the world, allowing complaints to be aired publicly and loudly, but may also be due to senior staff strategy.
43% of marketers indicated that their senior managers don’t regard online retail as a priority in their business plan, some not even allocating any of their budget towards e-commerce. Although, somewhat encouragingly, 38% do plan to allocate more of their budget towards this next year.
The General Manager of Experian, Matt Glasnerm, also suggests this type of traditional mindset is going to significantly hinder those who don’t adapt now, as they will have a hard time catching up.
Consumers are looking for more than a web presence, they want convenience and value online, through features like free shipping and free returns.
Whether Australian retailers are ready or not, the local retail landscape has irrevocably changed. From ‘bricks and mortar’ to ‘brick and clicks’ to purely ‘e-tail’, consumers are demanding more from traditional retailers and there are significant risks for those who do not keep up with the pace of change.
Thankfully, the study did reveal a few positive insights. While only 21% of retailers currently offer online loyalty programs through their website, 25% plan to introduce this feature in the next twelve months. Similarly, while only 17% currently offer discount codes for their online products, 26% plan to add this functionality.
Expanding online should be something retailers see as an extension of their existing business model. It shouldn’t be scary and it shouldn’t cost extraordinary amounts. It is simply a way to better service consumers, which is what Glasner hopes all retailers can take from Experian’s study:
What marketers need to consider is that ultimately it isn’t about revolutionising the way you connect with your customers, but evolving to incorporate a wider range of channels into your marketing and transaction strategy.