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.

No better place to plan for knot tying

GET PLANNING: The Whitsunday Wedding and Honeymoon Expo is fast approaching.

Check out the wedding and honeymoon expo next weekend

Tourists love sea-side

WHAT A LIFE: Stem 2 Stern representative Matthew Flint enjoys a delicious lunch with a view at Sorrento Restaurant.

Sorrento is the perfect venue to celebrate a milestone.

Stinger invasion closes Whitsunday beaches

A member of the Whitsunday Coast Lifesaving Club with the box jellyfish caught at Boat Haven Beach yesterday.

Stinger invasion closes Whitsunday beaches

Local Partners

Airlie send-off for Rufus tour

"IT'S been a series of pretty crazy things,” Rufus drummer James Hunt said of the band's success.

How Stay at Home Mum blogger Jody Allen struck it big

Jody Allen and Walt Collins will co-host the Seven Network's Stay at Home Mum television series from April.

Jody Allen's star continues to rise at incredible speed

Comedy with extra cheese

Paul Fenech is taking his TV series Fat Pizza on the road for a series of live shows.

Fat Pizza and Housos are coming to town

One of the top five car collections in the world

A 1950 Alvis TB14 Roadster is a highlight in the museum.

Gosford home to largest, privately-owned classic car collection.

MOVIE REVIEW: Matt Damon's The Great Wall gets lost

The Great Wall feels about as artisanal as a fortune cookie. Its underlying message is just as trite.

Airlie send-off for Rufus tour

ON THEIR WAY: Rufus will wrap up their massive regional tour with a show at Magnums Hotel this month.

Rufus will play at Magnums next week

Paul Murray listens to regions

Paul Murray is taking his Sky News show on the road to shine a spotlight on regional Australia.

Radio broadcaster wants viewers to 'turn up and fire up'

Why Hollywood’s siding with Brad Pitt over Angelina Jolie

Jolie may have the kids, but Pitt has custody of Hollywood

Tensions high at pointy end of MKR's round two

Things are really heating up on My Kitchen Rules.

Games are being played around the My Kitchen Rules table

Jungle Jay sent packing from I'm a Celebrity

I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Here! contestant Jay Laga'aia with Keira.

BIG friendly giant Jay Laga'aia has been eliminated from I'm A Celeb

Carson Kressley brings 'camp' to I'm a Celebrity jungle

"I am not all Park Avenue and daffodils” ... Carson Kressley.

Meet the "campest” campmate to star on I'm a Celebrity.

Expert: Why renters, home buyers may struggle

Matusik Property Insights director Michael Matusik.

What's next for the city's housing market

Massive seaside development of 3200 lots

DESIRABLE LIFESTYLE: The masterplan for the proposed Elliott Heads Estate.

"There's nothing else left along the coastline of Queensland now"

Potential home buyers punished for doing the 'right thing'

Should I go to university or buy a house?

50 more high rise buildings planned for Brisbane CBD

Height limits have been scrapped for Brisbane CBD

800,000 more people expected to work in city over next 20 years

New suburb in the crosshairs of Coast vandals

UNDER WRAPS: Graffiti on art installations at the entrance to the newly opened Bells Creek Arterial Road has been covered up.

Vandal rechristens Stockland as something less than complimentary

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!