Myer enters the 21st Century

That’s the headline that should have been on the front pages of papers leading up to Christmas. Instead, reporters focused on the store closures that Myer will be making over the coming year. But the real news is that the department store giant is to finally have a proper crack at selling via the web. “Myer will embrace the internet as a friend and our goal is to give customers a choice,” a Myer spokeswoman chirped. This new “friend” is the same friend that Brooks complained about 12 months earlier allowing consumers to purchase goods free of GST and saw the department store set up a direct import site which was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to force the Government’s hand on the GST issue.


James Boston

James Boston

James Boston is the Managing Editor of ATF Magazine, Editor, Publisher and Founder of Window Furnishings Australia, Online editor fashionsource.com.au,textilesource.com.au, and most recently Editor, Publisher and Founder of OR Magazine. Narrowly avoiding a career in finance, James has spent the last decade watching, analysing and writing about the Australian TCF industry in both his own publications as well as a number of mainstream titles.

Figures recently released by internet insights specialist Experian Hitwise report a rise in traffic to online shopping and classifieds sites. However Australian retailers are conspicuously absent from the rankings. Ebay continues to lead the market, with a significant share of traffic with Big W the first of the big Australian retailers appearing at number 12. The other majors lag significantly behind, notably: Kmart (31), Target (36), Woolworths (60) and Coles (63). Myer appears at position 71 and David Jones doesn’t rank in the top 100 at all.

The question I would be asking of senior management at Myer (and other major Australian retailers), and the question that shareholders should be asking, is why has it taken this long to realise that internet retailing should be a big part of your retail model? You don’t have to look very hard to see the progression elsewhere. In the UK, H&M, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, and Laura Ashley are all in the top ten online retailers. In the US, the home of eBay and amazon, both Sears and Walmart are in the top ten and number one and two in fashion retailing respectively.

Myer_AW2011_Fashion_Show_019But why am I focusing on Myer? Well I had an interesting chat pre-Christmas with a former retail supremo who had been in the Myer offices over three years ago imploring Myer to get on board with online retailing. The idea was pitched to the head honchos, who tossed it to IT, who ended up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants, who then decided they should instead create an online “catalogue on steroids”. You can lead a horse to water…

On another note, I expected my last editorial (Award to put outworkers out of a job) to generate a fair bit of a response. I was right. I had a stack of emails, tweets and phone calls from industry members supporting my view. I pointed them all in the direction of the Government’s review of the Fair Work Act (for which submissions have now closed). The review is being undertaken by three experts; Reserve Bank board member John Edwards, former Federal Court Judge, the Honourable Michael Moore and legal and workplace relations academic, Professor Ron McCallum AO.

The panel is currently considering evidence from stakeholders and will provide a report to the Government by May 31, 2012. My hope is that they realise that the Award in its current form is killing the Australian cut and sew sector and as a result killing the future of the workers themselves.

*This article originally appeared in the January/February 2012 edition of ATF Magazine. For more information or to subscribe go to www.atfmag.com

Image via Sassi Sam

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