Lifestyle

We've seen the future and it's scary for retailers

IT started as an online bookstore in 1994.

Fast forward to 2017, and Amazon has put US bricks and mortar retailers on their collective knees.

In the US, Sears is closing 150 stores.

Macy another 68 stores.

As thousands checked out the latest Amazon and Alexa powered appliances at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the headlines of the weekend edition of USA Today told of the new endangered species: department stores.

The sweeping changes in shopping, which have seen more of us going online, has resulted in tens of thousands of job losses in the retail sector.

And with Amazon set to come to Australia later this year, retailers here must be fearing the worst.

Walking around CES 2017, you only have to see the number of fridges and other devices with Amazon and Alexa tech built into them to know they have something to worry about.

Dozens of gadgets can be controlled using voice commands via Amazon's Alexa personal assistant.

Alexa is a virtual personal assistant that's been available for about two years.

Like Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and Google Assistant, you can ask it the weather, set alarms, read the news, and ask it to control some smart devices, like vacuum bots, around the home.

With an Amazon-enabled smart fridge, you can order groceries, all via voice control.

Founded by Jeff Bezos and based in Seattle, Washington, Amazon's expansion has been mind-blowing.

Not only does it now sell everything from DVDS to furniture, toys and jewellery, it produces its own electronics, the Amazon Kindle, Fire tablets and Fire TV among them.

Just two years ago, Amazon surpassed US retail giant Walmart as the most valuable retailer by market capitalisation.

Former top US retail executive Steve Odland told The Australian Financial Review that bricks and mortar retailers were heading for a "slow moving train wreck".

Second-tier shopping malls, he said, would become 'white elephants'.

Shopping in Las Vegas, you can understand a little why department stores are dying.

I had a very specific order from my wife for shoes.

It would have been so easy to order them online and have them delivered to my hotel room.

Instead, I (foolishly) did it the old fashioned way.

Some 30,000 plus steps later - I kid you not - I was still looking.

LG Electronics’ vice president David VanderWaal and Amazon Echo vice president Mike George present the LG Smart InstaView Door-in-Door Refrigerator to CES 2017 attendees Featuring InstaView technology and a smart touchscreen enabled with Amazon Alexa, users can simply knock twice to see what’s inside.
LG Electronics’ vice president David VanderWaal and Amazon Echo vice president Mike George present the LG Smart InstaView Door-in-Door Refrigerator to CES 2017 attendees Featuring InstaView technology and a smart touchscreen enabled with Amazon Alexa, users can simply knock twice to see what’s inside.

At one department store, an assistant suggested I do a Google search.

Good advice. But not clever when you're a retailer.

At the stores I went to, staff were friendly enough. There was just not enough of them. In Macy's I could only spot one staff member in an entire section.

While online, the choices are endless. In the department store, there were about four shoes to choose from - all in the same style.

Experts says the only way retailers can compete is if they offer better service and a niche product.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Amazon has big ambitions for Australia's $222 billion retail sector, having lodged more than 250 local trademark applications.

Wesfarmers' Richard Goyder, who oversees Coles, Kmart and Target, warned last year that Amazon will "eat all our breakfasts, lunches and dinners" unless retailers become more innovative.

Amazon last week reported its "best ever" Christmas-New Year season, shipping more than one billion items worldwide.

If the trend continues, it will be anything but 'ho, ho, ho' for Australian retailers in coming holiday seasons.

The writer travelled to CES 2017 in Las Vegas as a guest of Samsung Australia

Topics:  amazon ces 2017 online shopping retailer


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Facing up to the music

SOUR NOTE: Scott Cooper at The Mecca.

Lismore Music Festival organisers apologise for event cancellation

NORPA founder brings us Opera Australia

FOR KIDS: James Payne as Troll and Ruth Strutt as Ferdinand in El Kid, Opera Australia's production for primary schools.

El Kid comes to Albert Park Public School

Women's Expo to open the festival

Lismore's Women's Festival.

A day long event for the wellbeing of women in Lismore

Local Partners

Tony Abbott: Coalition in danger of becoming ‘Labor lite’

Tony Abbott has penned a highly critical analysis of the Turnbull Government, highlighting voter “despair” and concerns “the Coalition has become Labor lite.”

REVIEW: Under the Gun doco looks at right to bear arms

ARMED: A still from the 2016 documentary film Under the Gun by Stephanie Soechtig.

An in-depth look into America's gun culture.

Messing with your head

MIND BLOWN: What could be weirder than the realisation that we have another completely separate brain and nervous system than the one originating in our heads?

Fascinating connection between your gut and your brain

Sir Elton John coming to Mackay: What you need to know

Sir Elton will come to Mackay and Cairns in September.

Tickets to the concert go on sale on March 14

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

'LA LA Land? I only made it through 20 minutes.' Samuel L Jackson reveals his Oscars choices.

Former Family Matters stare accused of child abuse

Reginald VelJohnson, left, and Darius McCrary arrive at the TV Land Awards on Sunday, April 19, 2009 in Universal City, Calif.

Darius McCrary has been accused of child abuse

Bindi Irwin's birthday tribute to her dad

Bindi Irwin

Bindi Irwin has paid tribute to her dad on his 55th birthday

Reality TV show gives Maryborough a boost

*WARNING EMBARGOED until 9.15pm Monday January 30* Sean Hollands and Susan Rawlings pictured after their wedding on the TV series Married At First Sight. Supplied by Channel 9.

Maryborough looks good on reality TV show.

Buderim dad rejects gay son's emotional plea for second time

LOVERS: Grant and Chris have been together for more than three years, and Chris' parents refuse to acknowledge their son's fiance.

Son’s emotional plea rejected again by unmoved father

What's on the big screen this week

Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller in a scene from the movie T2: Trainspotting.

This week's new releases offer plenty of variety for movie buffs.

REVIEW: Under the Gun doco looks at right to bear arms

ARMED: A still from the 2016 documentary film Under the Gun by Stephanie Soechtig.

An in-depth look into America's gun culture.

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Submarine, buses and 3000 tyres removed in $100K clean up

The list of things removed from this property is beyond astonishing

Popular island resort sells to loaded international investor

OUR PICK: Chris Foey's colourful shot of one of Gladstone's great tourism hot spots, Heron Island.

International investor snaps up piece of Gladstone paradise.

Potential home buyers punished for doing the 'right thing'

Should I go to university or buy a house?

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!