Honey, The World Is Shrinking!

Apart from some isolated pockets, overall customer numbers are not growing at an accelerated rate in the western retail world. Major growth for many retail brands is now coming from international expansion into new western territories and emerging markets such as India, China, the Eastern block and the middle east. Combined with the explosion in customer uptake of internet usage for retail, the world is becoming a smaller place for many customers as access to retail brands becomes commonplace through direct and indirect, physical and virtual means.

So what does this mean for the average Australian retailer?

It means every Australian retailer needs to think about competing globally – because increasingly you are.

Global competition means two things. Firstly, you need to measure your self against the best in the world at what you do because sooner or later you will be competing for customers with them and customers are increasingly measuring you against the best in the world – even in your domestic market. Secondly, every Australian retail brand should be thinking about international expansion – even if it is only regionally or select markets or through virtual retail on the internet.

Australia actually has some of the best retail talent in the world. After all, being able to make growing profits out of a country that is no larger in retail catchment terms than greater London or greater New York is no mean feat. However, much of Australian retail is turned inward and not outward. We are much better at the business aspects than we are at the customer experience and brand elements. Our past business focus has been on efficient copying rather than origination and differentiation. Much of this has to do with history and a retail culture that has been founded in geographical isolation and disconnection from the far flung markets of Europe and the United States.

However, the geographic hotspots in retail are getting physically closer to us and virtual retail knows no territorial boundaries except for the banking system and the ability to deliver the goods. Partner identification businesses like Buckingham Consulting are helping hundreds of international brands expand into new geographic territories with licensing and franchising .

Australian retail customers will – if they can’t already – not only evaluate your offer against a world full of options but increasingly buy those options.

Now is the time for Australian retailers to turn their considerable talents to lifting their game in some of the areas that previously tolerated mediocre performance. Investing in all the drivers that will support international competition and global expansion.

With the right brand assets, business model and organisational structure in place, there are many Australian retailers who could turn the retail world upside down.