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Esprit has been operating in Australia since the 1980s. But as the business has been unprofitable for some time, they had to make the ‘ unfortunate but unavoidable’ decision to leave Australia. As the executive director of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed Esprit group, Thomas Tang, confirmed:

American fashion retailer GAP announced last year that they would be shutting their doors in Australia due to harsh market conditions. And British retailer Topshop fared even worse — last year collapsing under the weight of their $35 million debt and entering voluntary administration.

Esprit also joins Australian businesses like David Lawrence, Oroton, Marcs, Payless Shoes, Pumpkin Patch and Rhodes & Beckett which have all shut up shop in the past two years. And with giant retailers like Myer, The Good Guys and JB Hi-Fi all downgrading their earnings forecasts as their share prices plummet, conditions don’t look set to improve.

The success of retailers like Amazon has demonstrated that the digital experience is the way of the future when it comes to retail. How we shop and consume has been completely revolutionised, and the walk in-and-buy model is struggling to compete.

Although Amazon had a soft start in Australia, the capacity it has to dominate our retail market is ever increasing. They are still yet to roll out the complete online experience that is available in the US, including the Amazon Prime membership service that allows for free delivery.

So in a move that even has digital giants like eBay Australia worried, Amazon has announced their plan to open a second Australian warehouse in Sydney in the latter half of the year. As this will allow for a broader product range and widen the delivery option for third party sellers, this could be the stoke that sets Amazon’s business ablaze.

This will add to the advantage that international retailers like Amazon already have. As research firm Morgan Stanley found, Amazon’s products are significantly cheaper than most Australian retailers — making their business ultra-competitive. So as Amazon pushes further into the local market, this will only add to the crushing pressure retailers are under.

If Aussie retailers want to compete, they’ll need to advance the digital consumer experience and spend more time improving their technology. Whether that’s through cloud services, apps, blockchain or cryptocurrencies, 2018 is the year that the digital economy will thrive.

So as shoppers and investors, it pays to be savvy when it comes to the virtual world of data and consumerism. If you want to reap the benefits of the bourgeoning tech revolution, and all the latest in business innovation, you’ll need to keep your finger on the pulse to stay ahead of the herd.

Scientists have just made a major breakthrough in the search to halt the ageing process. And while this is great news for those of us on the quest to be immortal, it’s horrible news for pension plans around the world. With low economic growth and a rapidly ageing population, pensions are a ticking time bomb. And to add more years onto our lifespan could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

On Tuesday, bitcoin seemed to be stabilising around the US$9,000 mark. After falling significantly in price after Christmas, many thought cryptos were dead. But, as Selva revealed, financial firms are still keen on the idea of trading cryptos. And when it comes to regulation and government backed cryptos, new opportunities are popping up all the time…

Then on Wednesday, Selva came to us from the Blockchain Economy World Tour conference in Sydney. The first thing she found there, was that investment was pouring into the blockchain and crypto space. Initial Coin Offerings raised a whopping $US6 billion in the first quarter of 2018 alone. And considering that figure is more than what was raised in the whole of 2017, cryptos are clearly far from dead.

People are rightfully concerned about the level of government control in our financial system. And even though cryptos are founded on the principle of decentralisation, things could quickly turn sour. As Selva wrote on Thursday, there is real potential for governments and central banks to embrace, and eventually control, all cryptos. Which is why it’s important to familiarise yourself with the updates in regulation…

If you live in a major city like Sydney or Melbourne, construction will be part of your daily experience. Buildings are always being constructed while others are demolished. But as Selva wrote on Friday, this booming expansion hasn’t translated into the housing market. Property prices have been falling due to increased scrutiny on those looking to access credit or get a mortgage. And this could mean bad news for the long term prospects of the Aussie property market…