Cy­ber sales should click with shop­pers

There’s a new on­line retailing event headed for Aus­tralia

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IT’S the big­gest on­line event in the US and it at­tracted more than 10 mil­lion shop­pers and $1.25 bil­lion in sales in just 24 hours last year. Now an Aus­tralian re­tail group has planned a copy­cat event be­fore Amer­ica’s Cy­ber Mon­day and or­gan­is­ers say more than 150 re­tail­ers could take part in the in­au­gu­ral in­ter­net dis­count shop­ping fes­ti­val.

But re­tail in­dus­try ex­perts say the event may not be able to com­pete with the GST-free prices and dis­counted goods from Amer­ica, of­fered less than a week later.

The lo­cal on­line sale, dubbed Click Frenzy, will kick off next Tues­day and is de­signed to spark early Christ­mas buy­ing for Aus­tralian re­tail­ers.

Or­gan­ised by in­dus­try group Power Re­tail, the event has so far at­tracted more than 100 par­tic­i­pat­ing re­tail­ers, from big names such as Myer, Dick Smith, Tar­get and Ted’s Cam­eras, to on­line-only out­lets such as Ko­gan, The Iconic and Sur­fStitch.

Click Frenzy or­gan­iser Grant Arnott says the event was de­vel­oped af­ter talks with lo­cal on­line re­tail­ers and is de­signed to be­come an ‘‘ iconic’’ an­nual shop­ping event.

While Arnott says the event is clearly in­spired by Cy­ber Mon­day, which has been oper­at­ing since 2006, the Aus­tralian ver­sion will get the jump on its coun­ter­part. ‘‘ We wanted it to hap­pen be­fore Cy­ber Mon­day but, if any­thing, we’re try­ing to tie it to the Mel­bourne Cup carnival,’’ Arnott says. ‘‘ Just like it is the event that stops a na­tion, we want this to be the sale that stops a na­tion, in this case ev­ery third Tues­day in Novem­ber.’’

Arnott says the tim­ing of the Click Frenzy event, start­ing at 7pm, was also no ac­ci­dent.

Most in­ter­net shop­ping is hap­pen­ing out­side store hours, he says, due to its con­ve­nience.

‘‘ Shop­ping from the com­fort of the couch is the gamechanger of this cen­tury,’’ Arnott says.

‘‘ Peo­ple armed with iPads or lap­tops or even their mo­bile

We­want this to be the sale that stops a na­tion

phone will be able to cap­i­talise on this.

‘‘( On­line shop­ping) is not hav­ing as big an im­pact as it’s made out to, but we be­lieve it’s a big part of the fu­ture of re­tail.’’

Aus­tralians spent $11.7 bil­lion in on­line stores last year, ac­cord­ing to Na­tional Aus­tralia Bank re­search, but that fig­ure is ris­ing.

By the end of Septem­ber, con­sumers had al­ready splashed $12.1 bil­lion in in­ter­net stores — a growth of 23 per cent year-onyear.

But while the growth of on­line shop­ping out­paced in-store pur­chases, it still only rep­re­sented 5.5 per cent of bricks-and-mor­tar re­tail sales.

Na­tional Re­tail As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Trevor Evans says while it’s start­ing from a small base, in­ter­net shop­ping will chal­lenge real-world stores.

‘‘ There’s no doubt that this will continue and be­come a big­ger and more im­por­tant phe­nom­e­non in the Aus­tralian mar­ket,’’ Evans says.

‘‘ There’s a long list of tra- di­tional re­tail­ers who are on­line al­ready or which are in­vest­ing very heav­ily in get­ting on­line. Myer and David Jones are spend­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars to es­tab­lish an on­line pres­ence.’’

But while Evans wel­comes Click Frenzy as a way to boost lo­cal trade, he says Aus­tralian on­line stores are still find­ing it tough to com­pete with low prices in in­ter­na­tional stores, due in part to tax laws that do not im­pose the GST on over­seas pur­chases un­der $1000.

He says the Aus­tralian shop­ping event may strug­gle to com­pete with Cy­ber Mon­day as a re­sult, as savvy con­sumers wait six days to find bet­ter deals from big in­ter­na­tional chains such as Ama­zon.

‘‘ Our cur­rent tax regime in Aus­tralia forces lo­cal com­pa­nies to com­pete with on­line giants with one arm tied be­hind their backs,’’ Evans says. JEN­NIFER DUD­LEY

NI­CHOL­SON

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