Canberra: Major Australian retailers have come out fighting as American e-commerce giant Amazon prepares to launch its operations in the country.
Woolworths, whose main operations include supermarkets, liquor retailing and discount department stores, has said it will step up its own online offerings. Chairman Gordon Cairns told the company's annual general meeting in Melbourne on Thursday night the chain was ready to take on Amazon by boosting delivery and click-and-collect services.
"We want to be obsessive about our customers, their needs and how we serve them better," Cairns told shareholders. "If we do not, we will lose out to those who do, like Amazon." Cairns also revealed the company would open four so-called "dark stores" by the end of 2018, closed to customers and used to pack and ship online orders.
He warned retailers planning to sell on Amazon that the US giant could cut prices, causing other retailers not to stock their products. Market research firm Nielsen found Amazon US was the second-most popular website for online shoppers in Australia last month behind Woolworths, with 4.6 million customers compared with 6.7 million.
Investment bank UBS expects Amazon's entry into Australia to double growth in online shopping and force high street retailers to lower prices and improve service. UBS said online shopping accounted for 8 per cent of retail sales in Australia but has grown by 70 per cent over the past year. E-commerce rival eBay warned retailers selling via Amazon Marketplace they risked having their products ripped off for Amazon's private labels.