Australian Business Just Doesn’t Get the Web

conused Australian business

Nearly two thirds of Australian businesses don’t have a website, and half of those don’t intend to get one any time soon.

This astounding revelation was made recently by John Moss is Chief Strategy Officer, MYOB and based on recent research carried out by MYOB.

To me it explains why many Australian retailers are having such a hard time dealing with online shopping and ecommerce.

It is a mental problem, a business cultural problem; it’s nothing to do with technology, GST loopholes or the nasty, greedy invading offshore online operators.

It's a failure to understand the modern economy.

We know that Australian consumers have latched on to online shopping like hungry dogs on a bone, that online retail is booming and the growth is only expected to contnue. So why are so many Australian businesses dragging their feet to the online party?

For the majority of Australian business operators to be thinking this way in 2012 is quite frankly staggering.

There seems to be a serious disconnect between what Australian consumers are doing and what Australian business is providing.

Online shopping and business have been with us for nearly 20 years; wake up.

The fact that organisations like Harvey Norman, Myer and David Jones have only just realised that people love shopping online is symptomatic of the wider misguided business thinking among Australian businesses.

They are still thinking of it as something new, something to be tried or looked at. What they fail to understand and really need to be thinking is that the web is their business.


What Australian Retailers Really Need to Get

Many still mistakenly believe that their physical business, office location, their shopfront if you like, is their business.

They have yet to make the cognitive leap and realise that their web presence is their shopfront in the 21st Century, it is their High Street address.

Just take a look at Amazon as a classic example. Amazon has a huge amount of physical assets in the form of commercial real estate from offices to huge industrial warehouses.

Yet almost no-one considers Amazon to be a physical business, they relate to it as an online business.

Before the web the only way for a customer to interact with you was to come to your store (or maybe call you) and the retailer had complete control of that experience.

These days the first port of call for any customer is the web, and the business has little control over that.

Even if a customer does come to your physical location they have already checked you and your products out on the web first. In many cases they know more about your business and product than the salesperson.

Even if you don’t yet have a website, you still have a web presence  whether you realise it or not.

People are already talking about you in forums and on social media, and if you’re not taking part in those conversations, then you’re not taking part in the modern economy.

As I pointed out in an earlier post, these days if you don’t have a Linkedin profile with at least 250 connections, recruitment agencies will not even consider you for a job.

Just to make that last point clearer: If you're not online you don't exist.


Stop Waiting and Start Doing

question mark cloud

This mental problem further reveals itself in a recent article from the Australian Retailers Association, which said retailers’ lack of the skills and resources was preventing them from getting online.

Pardon me, but yes that’s the whole point. You’re not going to get those skills by waiting. The only way any business can get those skills is by diving in and doing.

Yes you will make mistakes, that’s called learning.

If Australian retailers continue to wait for government or associations to develop training programs they will fall even further behind in the digital economy.


How to Start Online Successfully

As a case study on how small businesses can start and succeed online, take the British printer ink company, Stickyink. It started in a bedroom in 2002 and now turns over three million pounds in annual revenue shipping orders all over the world.

When asked what his biggest mistake was, the owner and founder said: “Not starting online earlier."

And he started in 2002.

Australian business should not let getting online as soon as possible be their biggest mistake.

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