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Can any of our local online retailers compete with the service we can get overseas?

By Emily Morris - 10 February 2015 23

stock-shopping-online-computer-laptop

Last week, I ordered a few things from Marks & Spencer online (M&S is possibly the thing I miss most about living in the UK). They had free international delivery on orders over 30 pounds which was a bit of a bonus. To my great delight and surprise, after placing the order on Monday evening, a parcel arrived on my doorstep on Friday morning. From the UK – with no delivery cost.

This made me wonder why it is so hard to come across this sort of service within our fair shores. For online shopping, delivery prices are high and sites are often ‘clunky’ to use. I had assumed that delivery charges were so much lower in the UK due to government subsidy on their postal service, but the M&S order arrived via DHL Express, which isn’t subsidised (as far as I’m aware).

The only local online ordering experience that has come anywhere near this is Birdsnest, which is a fashion retailer based out of Cooma. The site and service is efficient and friendly, but even they couldn’t match the free delivery.

I do have a desire to keep my money within the country. Has anyone had a great local (as in Australian) online experience that they care to share?

What’s Your opinion?


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23 Responses to
Can any of our local online retailers compete with the service we can get overseas?
Madam Cholet 4:17 pm 11 Feb 15

Grimm said :

rosscoact said :

Thats true, I’ve bought every appliance in for the past few years from Appliances online, great customer service.

Have done the same thing. Appliances Online are great to deal with and MUCH cheaper than local retailers.

A couple of years ago I was looking for a new fridge. Got it from Appliances Online for just over $1000 less than any local retailer could do. Delivery was also either free or stupidly cheap, and it comes all the way from sydney by the ext business day usually.. Local retailers wanted around 100 bucks to deliver it literally 10 minutes up the road, and I would have to wait a week or more. Really no competition. Have bought a bunch of stuff from them since.

I tried to get a product price matched with AO. Firstly they include the delivery in the price match which is bollocks and secondly when I pushed the issue with the operator he refused to communicate with me. I will try to avoid them where possible. Good Guys are ok to deal with in person even if they are not the cheapest.

Maya123 3:34 pm 11 Feb 15

rosscoact said :

breda said :

rossco, the thing is that I never went near a showroom to buy my TV (which I am very happy with). The whole thing – sussing out models and prices, looking at reviews etc, was done online. While there probably are people who go to a shop to look at products, I can’t understand why they bother.

The exception might be something like a lounge suite, or a bed, which you might want to try IRL before buying. But especially for things like appliances, why would you bother shlepping round the shops?

I’m the same with most big items but things like clothes and shoes are good to try on if possible.

Yes, especially shoes. I have enough trouble finding shoes that fit well when trying them on, that I would never consider ordering them online.

rosscoact 2:36 pm 11 Feb 15

breda said :

rossco, the thing is that I never went near a showroom to buy my TV (which I am very happy with). The whole thing – sussing out models and prices, looking at reviews etc, was done online. While there probably are people who go to a shop to look at products, I can’t understand why they bother.

The exception might be something like a lounge suite, or a bed, which you might want to try IRL before buying. But especially for things like appliances, why would you bother shlepping round the shops?

I’m the same with most big items but things like clothes and shoes are good to try on if possible.

Grimm 1:34 pm 11 Feb 15

rosscoact said :

Thats true, I’ve bought every appliance in for the past few years from Appliances online, great customer service.

Have done the same thing. Appliances Online are great to deal with and MUCH cheaper than local retailers.

A couple of years ago I was looking for a new fridge. Got it from Appliances Online for just over $1000 less than any local retailer could do. Delivery was also either free or stupidly cheap, and it comes all the way from sydney by the ext business day usually.. Local retailers wanted around 100 bucks to deliver it literally 10 minutes up the road, and I would have to wait a week or more. Really no competition. Have bought a bunch of stuff from them since.

Postalgeek 6:59 pm 10 Feb 15

I have little issue with Australia-based online outlets across the board. Usually get my stuff within a couple of business days. I don’t see the problem.

farnarkler 6:51 pm 10 Feb 15

I always get good service from Skater’s Network in Sydney. I order and get the item delivered in a couple of days for $10.00 for whatever it is I’ve ordered.

HiddenDragon 6:09 pm 10 Feb 15

There certainly are things that Australian retailers could do better – at times, I wonder why some even bother having an online presence, because what they offer is so clunky and falls so far short of reasonable expectations.

On the other hand…..I do find it more than a little ironic when I hear Australians (particularly Canberrans) griping about how much better overseas retailers are, and demanding that local retailers, including of the bricks and mortar variety, match the best international prices.

Taking the case of the UK, you have a market of more than double, closer to triple, the size of the Australian market, crammed into a land mass comparable to Victoria – so much more scope for local efficiencies of scale which can then be built on for international markets. And then there are business costs – I wonder how many Canberrans would be happy to accept the living standards and working conditions of the people who work in the big warehouses which make it possible for the international retailers to offer such good deals? The other critical business cost is accommodation, which is very, very expensive (by world standards) in Australian capital cities – the same is true for parts of the UK, but not the parts where the online retail warehouses are located.

As this piece illustrates, Australians are pretty good at finding better/cheaper alternatives to local offerings, but sadly, we are not nearly so good at earning the foreign exchange to pay for it – which is why we have continued to run large current account and trade deficits even with an epic mining export boom. We should probably make the most of the international smorgasbord while it lasts!

breda 4:48 pm 10 Feb 15

rossco, the thing is that I never went near a showroom to buy my TV (which I am very happy with). The whole thing – sussing out models and prices, looking at reviews etc, was done online. While there probably are people who go to a shop to look at products, I can’t understand why they bother.

The exception might be something like a lounge suite, or a bed, which you might want to try IRL before buying. But especially for things like appliances, why would you bother shlepping round the shops?

rosscoact 4:28 pm 10 Feb 15

breda said :

I bought my TV online from a warehouse outfit in Brisbane a couple of years ago (can’t remember the name just now).

It was significantly cheaper than the same model from Hardly Normal in Fyshwick, and HN also charge for delivery.

There was no extra delivery charge, and I ordered it on Tuesday and got it on Friday.

It’s well worth checking out these kinds of places rather than the big stores, which mostly just apply the same inefficiencies to their online services as they do to their shops. Although, I have heard that JB HiFi are pretty good.

Thats true, I’ve bought every appliance in for the past few years from Appliances online, great customer service. My last two TVs came from Big Brown Box, again exceptional customer service.

The major advantage that traditional shops have over the online only shops is showrooms. They complain about multi-channel shoppers yet they have multi-channels. They effectively have warehouses and distribution channels across the country. Buy a pair of shoes online? Great, get somebody from your local shop to deliver them on the way home. No overseas or online only outlet can beat that and I’ll bet that the shopper will come into the local shop next time.

If only they would realise that and stop segmenting their operations they could beat online only and overseas shops at their own game. The good ones already are.

breda 4:01 pm 10 Feb 15

I bought my TV online from a warehouse outfit in Brisbane a couple of years ago (can’t remember the name just now).

It was significantly cheaper than the same model from Hardly Normal in Fyshwick, and HN also charge for delivery.

There was no extra delivery charge, and I ordered it on Tuesday and got it on Friday.

It’s well worth checking out these kinds of places rather than the big stores, which mostly just apply the same inefficiencies to their online services as they do to their shops. Although, I have heard that JB HiFi are pretty good.

Madam Cholet 3:53 pm 10 Feb 15

I order from Next Direct and Boden Online because their delivery is never more than 5 days and they actually tell you when it will be delis red. Both are UK companies but all with an Australian presence. Returns go to an australian address and they don’t make a fuss. Boden stuff arrives in three days. Next Direct is priced like Traget but better quality. I get all my sons clothes and shoes there.

Australian stuff is too expensive and would not active in 5 days.

I haven’t tried Marks and Sparks….I’ll probably have to check that out. Can you order their sandwiches online?!!

watto23 1:50 pm 10 Feb 15

The large australian online stores are woeful as well. I often have at least a weeks wait from anything ordered online. Yet overseas small companies are able to provide a better service as well.

rosscoact 1:10 pm 10 Feb 15

I’ve ordered wine from a Melbourne retailer on a Wednesday morning, packed in a coolbox and had it delivered to my Manuka office on a Thursday. The gel freezer blocks were still frozen.

switch 12:55 pm 10 Feb 15

Grail said :

So no, local businesses will never be able to compete with large corporation’s cheap shipping.

But the locals could try a bit harder. About the only thing saving them now is the falling Australian dollar.

Grail 11:11 am 10 Feb 15

Amazon can ship me a new book all the way from the USA to my parcel locker for less than it costs me to ship that same book, in its unopened carton, to myself at that parcel locker from the local post office.

Larger companies get much cheaper postal rates, and in some cases it is worth their while to sell and ship an item to small purchasers at a loss in order to maintain shipping volumes. The equation roughly works out as “is the loss we make from dozens of little orders worth less than the expenses incurred by dropping to the next-lower rank of shipments-per-day?”

So no, local businesses will never be able to compete with large corporation’s cheap shipping.

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