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.

Rainbow club shines at Gold Coast regatta

Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club at the Gold Coast's Broadwater regatta.

Teams battled it out in blistering heat

FORECAST: Perfect storm for a lazy weekend

Rain is on the way on the Northern Rivers.

Much needed heat relief expected to continue

Regional fathers needed to fight against male suicide rates

Regional fathers are needed in the fight against male suicide rates.

If you're a father aged 28-32 take part in this widespread survey

Local Partners

Tower built, now the recruits are coming

SINCE the opening of the new Marine Rescue tower in Ballina in October last year, the volunteer organisation has had at least a dozen new recruits.

BIG RIDE: Matt to bring out smiles for Smiddy

LONG WAY ROUND: Matt Muir raises his bike in triumph on his ride last year.

Fundraiser at Yamba Shores Tavern ahead of 800km charity ride

Buddhism pioneer shares life's mission

Lama Ole Nydahl will be presenting a new documentary in Ballina.

About the first ever Western students of Buddhism in Nepal

Mr Grey is back, just fifty shades darker

SCREENING: Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in a scene from the first trailer for the movie Fifty Shades Darker.

Advance screenings next week

Paul Murray listens to regions

The man who can talk underwater is ready to listen and broadcast it back to the pollies.

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.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi mystery already solved

FILE- This undated file photo provided by Disney shows Daisey Ridley as Rey, left, and John Boyega as Finn, in a scene from the film, \"Star Wars: The Force Awakens.\" Hasbro said it is changing its Star Wars Monopoly set after an 8-year-old girl became upset that Rey, the movie's female heroine, was not included as a figure along with Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. (Disney/Lucasfilm via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDIT

A key mystery surrounding the title of episode eight has been solved

Kids' game "full of f**king paedophiles" according to dad

A mortified dad has expressed serious concerns over an online game

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

Clarence River island paradise selling for $5M

Former Ballina councillor Margaret Howes is selling her island getaway.

GALLERY: Tropical getaway with beaches and airstrip put on market.

What $11.9m can get you on Coast's most exclusive street

29-31 Wyuna Drive Noosaville Qld 4566

This is what a cool $11.9m can get you

How a first home buyer built house with no deposit

NEARLY THERE: Construction on the first house to home orphans at Umoja began in January.



Photo Contributed

His home will be completed later this year.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!