Online wake-up call to retail

A WARRNAMBOOL marketing agency has warned retailers who do not adapt to online shopping that they may go the way of the corner store or the big book stores.

Last week's national 24-hour online sale, Click Frenzy, got off to a slow start after the website crashed, causing a three-hour delay.

Karen Foster, from o2 Media, urged retailers to accept the inevitability of online shopping and adapt to the shifting marketplace.

"I can understand local retailers feeling angry, just as I imagine corner shop owners were devastated when supermarkets arrived and bookstore owners were brokenhearted at the appearance of e-books," she said.

"But there's nothing to be gained by thumping the table and demanding loyalty from shoppers."

Ms Foster said clever retailers would recognise the need to adapt and would seize opportunities to differentiate themselves from their online counterparts.

"The key is for retailers to explore how they can provide a better or different experience," she said.

Click Frenzy founder and organiser Grant Arnott said that the event registrations increased from 250,000 to more than 800,000 in the hours just before the launch.

"This is a strong reflection of consumer adoption in Australia for online retail," he said.

Commerce Warrnambool president Richard Montgomery said Click Frenzy demonstrated that giant retailers were now able to enter local markets traditionally unavailable to them.

He said Christmas shoppers had a finite amount to spend and if that money went online it would directly affect Warrnambool businesses.

cquirk@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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