Slow uptake of e-commerce among retailers

Only 6.7 per cent of Australian bricks-and-mortar retailers have cited developing an e-commerce strategy as a major business concern, according to Stuart Lee, managing director for Telstra's Convergent Business.

Also, only 5.9 per cent are concerned with improving their supply chain management and 4.4 per cent developing their store network. These findings are a surprise and a concern because it shows the lack of importance of e-commerce among retailers, said Lee.

In comparison, 41 per cent of retailers are primarily concerned with improving their store operations, 31.5 per cent with marketing the business, 31 per cent with implementing the GST and 22.5 per cent with reducing costs, according to Lee.

According to research conducted by the National Office for the Information Economy, 57 per cent of Australian retailers use computers, 22 per cent are connected to the internet and 8 per cent are selling online.

Lee commented that the difference between the number of retailers who use computers and those who use the internet is surprising, considering that getting connected to the internet is only a small step to take for retailers that already have a PC.

Retail trade in Australia in the 12 months to March 2000 totalled $118.3 billion, an increase of 5.3 per cent, according to Bernard Salt, a director at KPMG Consulting. However, online sales account for less than 0.4 per cent of total retail sales, according to Lee.

The barriers to retailers putting in place an e-commerce strategy are many: 83 per cent of retailers stated that their customers do not have sufficient knowledge of what e-commerce is, while 82 per cent thought that retailers as a whole do not have an e-commerce culture, according to Lee.

Also, 81 per cent admitted that they have more important issues to be concerned with, 73 per cent said they have insufficient resources to implement an e-commerce strategy and 55 per cent felt that their suppliers are not e-commerce enabled.