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Online the key to a merry little Christmas

It’s hard to believe that the silly season is nearly upon us, yet again. There’s only 66 sleeps until the big day, and retailers small and large around the nation are gearing up for the season that traditionally yields the year’s most profitable trading days.

Unfortunately tough local trading conditions mean that Christmas won’t be merry for everyone, and the retail sector is the most at risk. Some retailers attribute up to 60 percent of their annual trade in the months of November and December, and for many, disappointing Christmas sales can put a serious dent in profit projections.

Latest news reports out are warning local retailers around Australia to brace themselves for a tough year, with a study by Dun and Bradstreet showing that only 31 percent of consumers think that they have enough money for Christmas shopping – and that less of us than ever are planning large purchases, or applying for a new credit card. With the sting of the global economic downturn still lingering, consumers are less likely to go into debt for extravagant Christmas gifts than previous years, and many of us are forgoing presents for much more simple celebrations.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. While revenue forecasts look grim for traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ stores, Australia’s online stores are booming – and Christmas 2011 looks set to be another record year for online sales. Growth figures from PayPal Australia support this trend, with a staggering 430 percent year on year growth rate.

The rise of the smart phone is also adding fuel to the online fire. In Australia, we’re making over 1000 payments to online retailers per hour using our mobile phones, and retailers offering ‘on the go’ payment options for busy consumers are across the board bucking the downward revenue trend.

With only 66 sleeps to go, I’m urging all SME retailers to get on board, and get online. If you’re not trading online, you’re missing a huge chunk of the market…and potentially a huge chunk of your profits over the festive season. You’re not too late – there’s plenty of inexpensive, easy options available that will have you e-trading in no time, such as MYOB Atlas.  (and you don’t need to be a HTML wiz!)

Look at where your customers are, and provide a purchase path that is quick, easy and convenient. There’s plenty of opportunities to ensure that your sales are rocking around the Christmas tree come December 25th – and I’m predicting that those with a multi-channel approach are going to be celebrating the most.

Do you have an online presence in addition to a bricks and mortar store? As an SME retailer in Australia, are you on track for a successful 2011? Do you plan to open an online store to assist with Christmas trading?

What do you think?

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Julian Smith

Julian Smith

Julian Smith is responsible for MYOB’s corporate affairs, government and public relations in Australia and New Zealand and is also New Zealand general manager. The qualified lawyer has spent much of his career at large multinationals in a range of senior legal, sales, marketing and customer management roles. Julian is a regular keynote speaker and business commentator and sits on a number of government and industry boards and advisory panels. Julian can be found on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/JulianTSmith">@JulianTSmith</a> or contacted via email Julian.smith@myob.com

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