Online retailing has been one of the biggest buzz words in the retailing landscape in recent years, with major players and smaller retailers alike investing in new infrastructure and updating their online presence in an attempt to secure the growing consumer spend online.

In the discussion surrounding online retail, Winning Group CEO and founder of Appliances Online John Winning has long positioned himself as an expert in the field. Whether it’s sharing his experiences at conferences such as last August’s Online Retail Conference and eCommerce Expo or posting regularly to his blog on the Winning Group website, he says his company has been “happy to be quite public” about its success.

This month, the wunderkind of appliance retail has once more offered up his thoughts on “How to navigate the online retail obstacle course” this year:

Increasing logistic costs

Predicted growth will make it difficult for online retailers to efficiently manage inventory levels and increased delivery demand, as they scale up and attempt to meet the growth. Long-term investment in logistics is required to handle the more demanding times of the year without impacting other parts of the business and your bottom line.

Pressure on service levels

Service is king in retail and ‘taking your eye off the prize’ will be one of the greatest challenges in 2014, as other priorities become more demanding. Service levels will be under pressure as online retailers bear the brunt of increasing overheads in the areas of logistics and technology.


Technology departments and resources will be stretched to keep up with the business model changes that the market will demand of online retailers to remain competitive and industry leading. The agility of a business’s technology platforms and programs, in addition to the talent of its technology staff will be tested and online retailers that have been investing in customisation over the past few years will come off better than those who have been slow off the mark.

Being accurate with inventory

One of the biggest challenges any retailer has is ensuring that they have the right product mix and stock levels at all times. The pressure of being price competitive and having more competitors in the market in 2014 could lead online retailers to broaden their inventory in an effort to capture more of the market. But there is a smarter way to compete. Online retailers that invest time and money in getting to know their customers will have the right product mix creating invaluable inventory.

Rising offshore competition

Australia’s strong economy will attract more international retailers to target Australian consumers. This could have a positive and negative impact on the industry – while the influx of offshore retailers will see increased online options for Australians, local online retailers who fail to stay ahead of the curve in regards to delivery and technology could also be left behind.

What are your thoughts on the major challenges for online and bricks and mortar retail this year? Get in touch to have your say or let us know in the comments below.