Gerry Harvey, You and Online Shopping

Wow, what a big controversy recently in Australia about online retailing and whether people should pay GST when ordering online from overseas suppliers.

Big heavy weight retailers like Gerry Harvey from Harvey Norman and others claim that they are at a disadvantage because people can buy online (overseas) and not pay GST.

How would the trend in overseas (online) purchases affect FASHION retailers?

I still firmly believe the overall trend is still in the (physical store) fashion retailer’s favour.

Gerry Harvey

Here’s my list of the advantages and disadvantages for the CONSUMER when buying FASHION jewellery, footwear and clothing online…

Ability to try on the item / view the item Yes. I believe this is one of the most important reasons why people visit stores. We all know that the actual size of clothing or footwear varies between brands and even by date of manufacture. The ‘cut’ can also make a huge difference. We ‘hope’ we’ve ordered the right size. Even with jewellery – it can look great in the photo but disappointing in real-life.
Quality #1 We can examine the particular ‘item’ before we buy it and take it home. The item may arrive damaged or was damaged at manufacture or somewhere along the distribution channel.
Quality #2 We can ‘see’ and feel the quality of the item before we purchase it The photo may differ to the real-life item
Service Varies – some staff at certain fashion stores have good product knowledge and some don’t. Sometimes you get friendly, prompt service and sometimes you don’t. May offer more information on their website about the item. Personal service not available.
Availability If it’s in store, we can buy it and take it home straight away – instant gratification. May take 1-3 weeks for delivery
Price A fashion retailer has higher overheads – usually high rent and staff expenses, so this is built into the price of what we pay. Usually lower. No GST for items under $1,000 (overseas orders only). Offset by having to pay for shipping.
Exchange Some stores offer the option to exchange items if they are not worn. Usually no exchange is allowed. Besides, you have to pay shipping to send the item back.


Out this list of products, the ones that I feel will be mostly affected by the trend to online shopping (in descending order) are:

  1. Bags (most likely to be purchased online)
  2. Jewellery
  3. Footwear
  4. Clothing

Sure, some ‘sales’ may be lost to online shopping but when it comes to FASHION jewellery, footwear and clothing – most consumers understand the benefits of buying locally.

Let me know that you think?

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!