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Aussie retailers prepare for battle with U.S. giant Amazon
From:Xinhua  |  2017-11-24 09:13

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CANBERRA, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- Major retail organizations have come out fighting as American e-commerce giant Amazon prepares to launch its Australia operation in time for the Christmas shopping splurge.

Woolworths, whose main operations include supermarkets, liquor retailing and discount department stores, has said it will step up its own online offerings.

Chairman Gordon Cairns told the company's annual general meeting in Melbourne on Thursday night the chain was ready to take on Amazon by boosting delivery and click-and-collect services.

"We want to be obsessive about our customers, their needs and how we serve them better," Cairns told shareholders.

"If we do not, we will lose out to those who do, like Amazon."

Cairns also revealed the company would open four so-called "dark stores" by the end of 2018, closed to customers and used to pack and ship online orders.

He warned retailers planning to sell on Amazon that the U.S. giant could cut prices, causing other retailers not to stock their products.

"They can end up cutting their own throat. Before they step into the breach, they should perhaps consider what the long-term ramifications are," he said.

One thing is certain that Amazon's entry will shake up the Australian retail sector in a huge way.

Market research firm Nielsen found Amazon United States was the second most popular website for online shoppers in Australia last month behind Woolworths, with 4.6 million customers compared with 6.7 million.

Megan Treston, Nielsen's executive director of retail services, said she expected Amazon to have a significant impact on the Australian retail sector in the lead-up to Christmas.

Investment bank UBS expects Amazon's entry into Australia to double growth in online shopping and force high street retailers to lower prices and improve service.

Its survey suggested electronics, apparel and cosmetics are most exposed.

UBS said online shopping accounted for 8 percent of retail sales in Australia but has grown by 70 percent over the past year.

E-commerce rival eBay warned retailers selling via Amazon Marketplace they risked having their products ripped off for Amazon's private labels.

eBay Australia and New Zealand managing director Tim MacKinnon said that competition was great for everyone but "where you get players that try to use the data they get and then decide to go and retail those items themselves, that's where it becomes a little unfair. We will be watching that carefully".

Retail billionaire Gerry Harvey said he will "wait and see" what Amazon's prices are like before deciding whether his Harvey Norman chain will price-match.