With the hype surrounding business-to-consumer Internet companies storming the market, the time has come for computer retailers to capitalise on the business opportunity afforded by new technology and products, according to Microsoft's retail guru Patrick Duboys.
Duboys, who is industry business manager for Microsoft Australia, claims by extending online capabilities to interact with their back-end processes, Australian computer retailers will be able to streamline their bricks and mortar operations.
"While business to consumer [e-commerce] captures our imagination, business to business represents the most important opportunity," Duboys said.
"The technology is available and it's not enormously expensive" to enable retailers to improve the quality of customer relationships, improve interaction with distributors and business partners and lower the amount of inventory a business has to hold, as well as sell over the Internet, he added.
Duboys claims that while large-chain computer retailers are likely to be the first adopters of this technology, smaller retailers should also be looking to explore linking their back-end processes to their online applications.
"You don't need to be a big player," Duboys said. "Electronic commerce is doing business online. It is about using the power of the digital information to understand each customer and partner's needs and preferences, to customise products and services and to deliver those products and services as quickly as possible," he said.
Duboys' comments come as the Microsoft manager prepares for his keynote speech at Australia's first retail focused exhibition dedicated to the latest high-tech advances in cyber shopping - Retail Business Technology 99.
The three day conference, from August 23-25 at the Melbourne Convention Centre, will feature over 100 exhibitors displaying POS software, customised digital television, call centre services, touch screen technology and multimedia display systems.
Other key speakers at Retail Business Technology 99 will include: Thom Blischok, executive VP of Equifax Knowledge Engineering; KPMG consultant Bernard Salt; Tony Course, co-founder of Loyalty Magic; Jean Claude Pellicier, national sales manager for Telstra; and Rick Matthews, deputy Commissioner GST, Australian Taxation Office.