Retailers fight back with social media
LOCAL businesses are boosting their online presence through social media in an attempt to retain their market share and fight the rise of internet shopping.
Christmas shoppers are filling the stockings of their relatives with the click of a mouse and tap of a smartphone in unprecedented numbers this festive season.
A study conducted by survey firm Nielsen shows 22% of consumers have used a mobile to purchase items in the lead-up to Christmas.
The owner of Homeleigh House in Bargara, Hayley Edmonson-Clark, said the business had tried to create its own version of internet shopping with a revamped Facebook page.
Customers can choose to visit the store's page, place their order by the phone and opt to have the product delivered directly to their door.
"People can go on Facebook, call the store and make the purchase," she said.
"I don't want to lose the personal link with my customers."
Executive director of the Australian Retailers Association Russell Zimmerman said research showed a huge spike in mobile shopping across the nation.
"People are getting used to using mobile devices for things we would have used laptops for in years gone by," he said..
"The lesson for retailers is that it doesn't matter what sort of retailer you are, you need to be engaged with consumers at all levels."
Mr Zimmerman said retailers needed to engage with online customers to remain relevant in the digital age.
He has called on the Federal Government to even the playing field between domestic retailers competing with their overseas online counterparts by reviewing GST legislation.
"Currently you can bring anything into Australia from overseas and you won't pay any GST or duty if it's under $1000.
Mr Zimmerman believed the threshold should be lowered to around $30.
Mrs Edmonson-Clark said her Bargara gift and homeware shop offered something a computer or mobile phone never would - good old-fashioned customer service and a friendly face.
"It's the ambience and fragrance in our store compared to the experience of pushing a button on the computer," she said.
"Customer service is something we're strong about and gift wrapping, and a happy smiling face."