Listen Up Gerry: Minister Offers Lessons In E-tailing

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Harvey Norman to go back to school as Google, eBay give lessons on online savvyness.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is to give a seminar later this month on internet know how – with the help of Google,eBay and PayPal – as the online crisis retailers are facing fails to go away, he has announced. 

The Online Retail Forum aims “to encourage and support Australian retailers to explore online business options,” according to the statement.  

The internet lessons looks to be Conroy’s latest attempt to quell the commotion made by a list of retailing giants including Harvey Norman, Myer and Solomon Lew’s owned Just Group about the lack of GST on  foreign goods bought online, which they said is eating into their business. 

Following intense pressure from retailers on GST, the government responded by setting up the Productivity Commission to examine the retail sector in Australia last year. 

However, in its 2011 forecast, analysts Morgan Stanley predicted the Commission investigation into the retail landscape was likely to find that it is ‘uncompetitive,’ despite claims by CEOs that GST was making it more difficult to do business here.    
 
 “Providing an online information and sales channel is clearly an important part of any discussion about the future of Australian retail,” Senator Conroy said.

However, the Minister who is responsible for the Digital Economy might not be telling the retailers what they want to hear, hinting they may have to lower prices and vastly improve their product offering if they wish to get serious about online.  

 Lectures are to be given from internet powerhouses including the likes of Google, eBay, PayPal, Shoes of Prey, Gray’s Online, as well as Australia Post, Temando, DHL,  and the ACCC.

 

“Shopping online can also deliver benefits to consumers in the form of greater customer satisfaction, better product information and, in some instances, lower prices,” he said.

Online purchasing is enjoying a booming trade at the moment and was cited in several retailers in their end of year results as a threat to future sales growth. 

By 2015, it is forecast to account for 22 percent of all purchases.
 
The forum is due to take place in Sydney on 18 February next.
 

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