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The retailers’ perspective

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Abdul Jaafar, general manager – supply chain, Fantastic Furniture. Dean Salakas, chief party dude, The Party People share their thoughts



Abdul Jaafar



Q: What is the chief characteristic of an elite or leading retailer in Australia?

A: A customer-centric supply chain that is both sustainable and agile.

Q: What areas will be your company’s focus in the year ahead?

A: Customer delight, employee engagement, growth and continuing on our path to a world-class supply chain.

Q: Where do you look to for innovative approaches and why?

A: I look for innovative approaches across all sectors. You will always find that when looking at what the world’s best are doing either by systems, practice or MHE [material-handling equipment], there will be an element in that approach that can be applied to your business.

Q: Where are Australian retailers strongest?

A: Adapting, I believe Australian retailers adapt so well to change that when a brilliant idea is introduced it’s very quickly implemented in retail, and customers and employees embrace it.

Q: Conversely, where is there greatest room for improvement – and why?

A: Being customer first. We can be complacent at times in retail and this complacency, especially our customer centric complacency, allows for competitors outside of Australia to come in and be successful very quickly.

Q: What innovations and techniques will be important in the year ahead?

A: Finding ways to delight the customer instantly and creating a memorable experience.

Q: How does Australian multichannel retail compare to elsewhere?

A: End-to-end multichannel retail is so far advanced in Europe, North America and the Asian market. Where we see free deliveries as a point of difference, it’s seen as normal elsewhere.

Dean Salakas



Q: What is the chief characteristic of an elite or leading retailer in Australia?

A: Amazon is coming so building up defendable characteristics is going to be key. Examples of this are having a strong private label brand and products or having a superior bricks-and-mortar customer experience.

Q: What areas will be your company’s focus in the year ahead?

A: Opening more bricks-and-mortar stores.

Q: Where do you look to for innovative approaches and why?

A: I attend most retail or ecommerce conferences in Australia to continue to hear how other retailers are innovating, see how I can apply those innovations to my industry, and most importantly help me predict and understand what change might be coming so I can be a first mover.

Q: Where are Australian retailers strongest?

A: With high labour rates, we have a higher focus on reducing labour and being efficient.

Q: Conversely, where is there greatest room for improvement – and why?

A: Customer service in countries like the USA is phenomenal.

Q: How does Australian multichannel retail compare to elsewhere?

A: I am not that familiar with Europe and Asia. However, in North America, Amazon is king and we don’t have that in Australia yet. The mentality in North America regarding retail is astonishingly different, with the default search engine being Amazon when someone wants a product. In North America people expect that Amazon will have any product they are looking for at the same or a cheaper price than going direct to the brand, with cheaper and more efficient shipping, so why would you go anywhere else?
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