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Retailers reveal love-hate relationship with Amazon

Most retailers selling on Amazon are worried the e-commerce giant will use their sales data to compete with them, a new report from SLI Systems has revealed.

According to the software provider’s global survey of 213 e-commerce professionals, Amazon is both friend and foe to retailers, which rely on the e-commerce giant for visibility and profitability, but also worry about potential competition from its marketplaces.

“While consumers were shopping Amazon Prime Day with glee, for merchants, the perks of leveraging the online giant come with some concern. Nearly 70 per cent of the retailers we surveyed that sell on Amazon reported being somewhat or very worried that Amazon will use their sales data to compete with them, indicating they view Amazon as more of a ‘frenemy,’” said Chris Brubaker, CMO of SLI Systems, which asked survey respondents why they sell via Amazon and the extent to which they view Amazon as a competitive threat.

The survey revealed that improving the customer experience remains crucial, but there is a renewed focus this quarter on purchasing or implementing e-commerce platforms that will bolster great experiences.

In addition, retailer forecasts for online and mobile revenues continue to be strong worldwide, despite declines in confidence this quarter compared with Q2 2016.

The survey targeted mid-size retailers, with a mix of business models, including pure e-commerce, as well as omnichannel merchants, primarily in the US, Europe and Australia.

Other highlights from the second quarterly 2017 E-commerce Performance Indicators and Confidence Report include:

Performance indicators

  • E-commerce revenue: 86 per cent of respondents expect their e-commerce revenue to increase this quarter compared to Q2 2016. Australian retailers are optimistic, with one quarter (25 per cent) predicting e-commerce revenue growth at 21 per cent or more, compared with 33 per cent in the UK, and 21 per cent in the United States.
  • Mobile revenue: 81 per cent expect revenue from mobile sites and apps to increase in Q2 2017 compared to Q2 2016; 22 per cent expect a boost of 21 per cent or more.
  • In-store revenue/profit: 39 per cent expect an increase, with 14 per cent expecting a decrease; in Q1 2017, 46 per cent of respondents expected an increase.

Retail confidence prevails in Australia, as brands expand

  • Hiring employees: 81 per cent of retailers in Australia plan to hire, compared with 55 per cent in the United States and 41 per cent in the UK.
  • New marketplaces: Nearly half (44 per cent) of Australian retailers surveyed plan to expand on to new marketplaces this quarter, up on last quarter, compared with the United States (40%)  per cent and the UK (24  per cent).
  • Geographical expansion: One quarter of Australian retailers plan to sell to new geographical markets this quarter (vs 28 per cent in the UK and 29 per cent in the United States).
  • Technology adoption: Australia’s plans for purchasing or implementing new technology also stood out, with 81 per cent investing this quarter (vs 57 per cent in the U.S. and 48 per cent in the UK).

Bricks-and-mortar stores

  • 22 per cent of respondents expect to increase their number of stores by up to 10 per cent in 2017. Regionally, a massive 44 per cent of retailers in Australia and 24 per cent in both the U.S. and UK will increase the number of storefronts.

Amazon motivations

  • 65 per cent of retailers that use Amazon report adding the channel to their e-commerce strategy to increase sales; customer acquisition and visibility from a high traffic channel tied as the second greatest motivator (47 per cent each).

CX and replatforming top initiatives

  • Customer Experience (CX) remains king despite declining as the top choice, to 20 per cent from 26 per cent in Q1. Replatforming climbed to the second top priority with 17 per cent in Q2, up from 11 per cent in Q1.
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