What’s Happening to Retail? An Insider Weighs In…

Power Retail By Power Retail | 17 Jan 2020

Everywhere you turn, it’s doom and gloom. From voluntary administration to stores leaving Aussie waters, it seems that retail is going through a really rough patch. How can the country help this situation? Shannon Ingrey, Vice President and General Manager, APAC at BigCommerce explains. 

Yesterday, Jeanswest filed for voluntary administration. Jeanswest Corporation filed the notice on 15th January and has appointed KPMG as administrators.

Despite strong online growth and opening stores in international waters, the retailer has struggled to compete against the likes of H&M, Zara and other large clothing retailers who have dominated in Australia over the last decade.

“The unfortunate news that Jeanswest has entered into voluntary administration is a testament to the competitive and shifting nature of the retail and e-commerce industry in Australia,” Shannon Ingrey, Vice President and General Manager, APAC at BigCommerce tells Power Retail. “It highlights the fact that well-known brands with long-lasting customer followings are just as answerable to the expectations of consumers as smaller pure-play online businesses.”

Despite having a strong online presence, Ingrey points out that it’s beneficial to invest in an omnichannel strategy.

“In 2020, it’s not enough to simply have an online presence. Consumers are engaging with retailers from more touchpoints than ever before – and they expect a cohesive, personalised and seamless shopping experience at every stage of the journey,” Ingrey says.

Jeanswest is just one of many retailers who have filed for voluntary administration in the last 12 months. Others include Bardot, Karn Millen, Harris Scarfe, Curious Planet (previously Australian Geographic) and EB Games.

“The announcement from Jeanswest, along with the collapse of other Australian retailers like Karen Millen, Curious Planet, Bardot and Harris Scarfe in the last 12 months alone, shows that it’s now critical for Australian retailers to better understand their customers and invest in providing a differentiated experience,” Ingrey says.

It’s clear that Australian retail is going through a rough patch – how do we fix it?

“On the other hand, as the retail climate shifts, local businesses are assessing their processes, streamlining their operations and evaluating their legacy systems to keep them competitive and profitable,” Ingrey continues. “Retailer EB Games recently closed 19 of their underperforming stores (they still have over 300). These kinds of changes – including the closing of underperforming stores – are part of running a healthy business and it’s highly likely that we’ll see them open new stores in 2020.”

It’s not just Australia – Forever 21 in the United States closed more than 100 of its stores, but last week, made the statement that it would be focussing on e-commerce. This may just be the re-birth of the brand, adapting to modern times.

Everything changes – there was a time, not even ten years ago, that journalism would be dead with the downsizing of print. But those who predicted the end of the industry were wrong, they didn’t give it time to adjust to the modern era.

We’re living in tough times – there is plenty of uncertainty. But with patience, and the willingness to adapt, we won’t see the end of retail, we’ll just see it changing.

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