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.

Address debt, says financial counsellor

ACT NOW: Don't let debt accumulate, a financial counsellor advises.

Don't let the financial stress mount, says financial counsellor.

Colourful array of stunning art

BLOOMING BEAUTIFUL: A winning entry from last year's Blackwater art exhibition.

If you love art then the 41st Annual Art Competition is for you.

Growing up with a love for local show

BIG OPPORTUNITY: Cheneya Freese is the 2017 Miss Alpha Showgirl.

Cheneya Freese has been named Miss Alpha Showgirl for 2017

Local Partners

Young man's body found in burnt CQ home

MYSTERY surrounds death of a young man found near melted appliances in a burnt-out Emerald unit this morning.

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

What public holidays are left in 2017

Ipswich residents will get the day off tomorrow for the show.

IPSWICH residents will get tomorrow off for the show

Caitlyn comes home to launch debut album

Gympie's Caitlyn Shadbolt will launch here debut album Songs On My Sleeve at an exclusive all-ages concert in Gympie on Friday, May 26.

Win tickets to Caitlyn's album launch

Concert death toll revised up to 22, tour suspended

TWENTY-TWO people have been killed and at least 59 people have been injured following a terror attack in Manchester

Casual Keanu says fame is ‘cool’

Keanu Reeves in a scene from the movie John Wick: Chapter 2.

NOBODY expected much of John Wick when it was released in 2014.

Ariana Grande breaks her silence after fatal blast

According to reports quoting witnesses, a mass emergency evacuation was prompted after explosions were heard at the end of US singer Ariana Grande's concert in the arena.

The entertainment industry is in shock after attack on concert

Pitch Perfect star suing Woman’s Day over ‘liar’ articles

Actor Rebel Wilson outside court on Friday.

REBEL Wilson's career destroyed by grubby campaign, court hears.

Seven Year Switch: The boner to end all boners

Johnny’s outraged over claims he has a cracked boner.

She gulps. Her face says it all.

Bay to star in Hollywood shark thriller ‘Cage Dive’

Cage Dive, written and directed by Gerald Rascionato, is now screening in the United States of America. It had scenes filmed in Hervey Bay.

And our visiting humpback whales also make appearance.

Celebrity sex tapes: Where does all that money go?

Basically, did Paris and Kim earn fortunes from their videos?

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

Deputy Premier makes massive call on controversial sand mine

Aerial view of the proposed Forest Glen sand mine.

BREAKING: State Government makes huge call on Coast sand mine plans

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!