Despite the rapid rise of mass merchant retailers in Australia, there is no need for independent dealers to gnash teeth or slit their wrists according to the man at the helm of Australia's largest computer store co-operative. Responding to news that both Dick Smith Electronics and Coles-Myer are planning to introduce new superstores in Sydney (see ARN August 12, Page 1), Ross Whitelaw, managing director of Leading Edge Computers (LEC), said his members will always be able to differentiate from the big boys on service.
"Where the mass merchants fall down is in customer service and after-sales support," said Whitelaw. "Our members tell us they are constantly picking up customers disillusioned and disappointed with the lack of service being received from the 'category killers'.
"They are finding buyers respond to the high levels of technical expertise and customer service delivered through the independent stores such as ours," he added.
Whitelaw is of the opinion there will always be a place for both types of businesses but those small independents who aren't in a group will face problems because of their lack of buying power and the expensive cost of trying to market their businesses.
"There is no doubt about the power of brand awareness and the big retailers rely on that," said Whitelaw.