Paul's Blog

The good news just keeps coming - New Retail rocks! February 24, 2016 11:00

It has been a great few weeks in the Australian retail landscape. Starting with the big end of town, the buoyant reporting results from Pacbrands, Speciality Fashion Group, RCG, and many others reflect a new tailwind.

Don’t do what Amazon does, do the opposite! January 25, 2016 22:00

When I was running DealsDirect in the noughties, the saying especially amongst pure play retailers was always “ do what Amazon does”  - A recognition that Amazon was ( and is) setting the bar of best practice and if you broadly tracked their methodologies albeit on a much smaller scale of course, you were on the right track. Wrong.

Don’t mistake "service" with "servile" January 23, 2016 13:30

I have been in New York for the last week. I am a regular visitor to the Big Apple and continue to marvel at the level of service here. Restaurants, retail, and hospitality - I have felt like a king for the week.

Naturally, my mind wanders to why we are not able to replicate that level on service, on the main, in Australia? Is it because our higher structural costs means less associates on the floor? Or because we don’t have the ‘tip and gratuity’ culture that the US has? Is our training in retail and hospitality not at the same level as the US? Or because we don’t have the ‘scale’ and size of the population?

Stop hiding behind your company’s brand – step out January 21, 2016 21:00

I have spent the last few days at the NRF Retail Big Show in New York.  And reflected on how the successful retail brands usually have a personal face sitting behind, or indeed, in front, of the corporate brand.

The Windscreen is always bigger than the rear-view Mirror – In Defence of Masters January 21, 2016 15:30

Let me start, with my conclusion - The decision by the Woolworths board and management to launch Masters was a sound one. A very sound idea indeed. That the strategy and execution was flawed, is now patent.

In the New Economy, we get Control by Giving it Up! January 6, 2016 21:00

I did not meet or know the late Reg Kermmode of Cabcharge, but all indications were that he wielded serious control over his company and the industry. Colin Kruger, an SMH journo wrote in 2014, shortly after his passing that Cabcharge "retains the insular culture developed by Kermode, who orchestrated the company's ascendance by means both fair and foul.

Embrace the “casualization of the workforce” – it’s an incredible opportunity September 23, 2015 11:00

I am fifty five years old. So? Well, I am getting quite a few calls from friends around my age who are now feeling the sharper edge of corporate Australia. They have faced, or going through redundancies and retrenchments. Some have been squeezed out by younger sharper talent. Some speak of feeling marginalized as they face their inevitable exit. Their distress is palpable and of course understandable.

Is Collaborative Consumption the New Online Retail? September 16, 2015 15:00

I continue to marvel at the rise and rise of the Sharing Economy and the business models like Airbnb, Uber, Airtasker et al. Always a nostalgic I thought back to my experience with DealsDirect which is now over a decade old. Whilst it true to say I felt the same thrill watching the growth of pure play retail,  we knew we were involved in heavy infrastructure business.

The Need for Connectedness... and Airbnb September 6, 2015 18:30

I am in Rome for the World Retail Congress. The conference is being held at a landmark Rome Hotel, the Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria. I could have stayed in the hotel, or others close by, but  have opted to stay in an apartment a short walk from the hotel, via Airbnb - The question is why? A cost saving is an obvious answer but I don't think that is it. I think Airbnb have tapped into a primal human desire for connection and belonging.

Ways to Increase your EQ? Sorry, there aren't any September 6, 2015 10:30

In a previous post, I suggested that “EQ, (emotional quotient/intelligence) not IQ, was the new currency of business.” A number of likes and supportive comments suggests that this post resonated with many.  I also suggested at the end of the post that I would discuss how we might increase our EQ. I will come straight out with it. Frankly I don’t think there is a way we can increase or improve our EQ. I support the view of Aristotle –“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” A profound recognition that we enter adulthood largely baked into our ways. And  whether by nature or nurture, is somewhat academic.

EQ, not IQ, is the new currency of Retail September 2, 2015 16:00

Australia has long been known colloquially as the “Clever Country.” I broadly believe this assertion to be true. We have a tier one education system, an enquiring and inventive national psyche, and are proving to be world leaders in technology adoption.


Pride is the New Retail Currency January 22, 2015 04:18

My first email after landing in sunny Sydney this morning was from the editor of Power Retail. My brief: write a piece about the big ‘take homes’ from the NRF Big Show, which finished up in snowy New York City last week.

Despite the vastness of the event, around thirty five thousand attendees, I always try to hone on the one or two big things at these mega events. So, I guess I could write about the convergence of physical and digital retail and the number of keynotes that referenced that. Yes, there is a new word folks, “phygital”!  Read more...

NRF 5 - Summarising the second day of The Big Show January 14, 2015 15:43

NRF 4 - Wrap up of Day 1 at The Big Show, New York January 13, 2015 16:01

NRF 3 - Paul interviews Russell Zimmerman of the ARA at The Big Show January 12, 2015 19:56

NRF2 - From the NRF Big Show, talking about Airbnb January 11, 2015 16:06

Third NORA eCommerce Expedition travels to Sydney May 19, 2014 21:46

It was a pleasure to cut the ribbon on the third NORA eCommerce expedition with Anna Lee and Shannon Micallef of Team NORA, making up the hardy NORA new retail tour guides! Read more....

Secrets of Aussie online entrepreneurs May 1, 2014 21:18

I was pleased to join three exciting entrepreneurs and a CSIRO executive at the “Secrets of Aussie Online Entrepreneurs’ events at Monash University, Berwick Campus last Thursday evening. 

Hosted by the dynamic Bernadette Schwerdt of Copy School and supported by VECCI,  The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Digital Enterprise, an Australian Government initiative. Read more...

The New Year is the year for New Retail January 6, 2014 19:12

I was one of many in the industry who predicted a strong Christmas quarter for Australian retail and the early tallies coming back suggest this has indeed been the case. Read more...

Imagination and optimism: a glimpse into the future of retail October 15, 2013 19:57

On Monday the 14th October, seventy leaders of retail gathered on the Gold Coast for a Camp David-style leadership summit to engage in that deeper conversation – the future well-being of Australian retail. Read more...

Retailer’s perspective: inside ‘Alifest’ Netreprenuers Summit with DealsDirect September 13, 2013 20:54

It has been my pleasure over to be a guest of for their annual 2011 ‘Alifest’ Netrepreneur Summit in Hangzhou China. I had expected to see a significant shift in Chinese e-commerce since my last visit two years ago, but predictably I was blown away. Truly a slumbering giant has awoken and its footprints will reverberate around the world. Read more...

Hope for an Australian retail renaissance August 4, 2013 20:51

I believe that Australia stands on the cusp of a retail Renaissance, by which both retailer and customer will benefit.

Australian retail is at an inflection point. While many may claim we are witnessing our darkest days in the industry, there is also every sign that this country is on the verge of a significant retail Renaissance.

It was Thomas Friedman the Pulitzer Prize winner and futurist who, back in 2005, claimed that the world was flat. Just as tellingly he summed up his key thesis to business in a few sobering words:

“You are either doing it, or it is being done to you.” Read more...

New Retail requires consolidation, not fragmentation July 16, 2013 20:47

On the 2nd of July, in an interview in the Australian Financial Review, Bernie Brookes, CEO of Myer, bemoaned the fact that there are too many retail associations in Australia.

I agree with him.

I would argue though that the plethora of retail industry associations is a symptom. A symptom of a fragmented retail landscape in Australia. I would argue that the origins of the current situation lies in how Australian retail has responded to a sustained and challenging period of structural change and disruption. Read more...

Scammers: are online retailers being victimised? June 20, 2013 20:45

Let me start off by saying that I commend and congratulate the ACCC for its many initiatives aimed at protecting consumers from the ever-present danger of online scams.

As a peak industry body, the National Online Retailers Association (NORA) is committed to contributing in anyway it can to this cause, to participate in education and policy development with regulators and law enforcement and so protecting Australian consumers. After all, the new retail in Australia has a strong online footprint, and we want Australian shoppers to have a great experience shopping online. The fact that this channel is growing so quickly means – in many cases – they already are.

I was pleased to join a panel discussion in Melbourne on Tuesday, June 18, at the ACCC’s conference: Outsmarting Scammers, Staying Safe When Shopping Online. Read more...