Reports today that the move towards online retail will lead to significant job losses over the next five years ignores the employment opportunities being created in the thriving Australian ecommerce industry.
The growth of online retailing does not necessarily mean overall net job losses but a redistribution of jobs in a new growth sector.
While fewer physical stores may mean less jobs, there will be an ‘increase in logistics employment and increase in work opportunities provided by the expanding array that online shopping provides. That means more and larger distribution centres, more trucks on the road and more people manning customer service centres.’ Online retailing and e-commerce in general, can grow jobs and employment in the economy over the longer term.
In fact, the Online Business Index, an annual survey of Australian businesses engaged in ecommerce revealed that the largest 2,000 sellers’ turnover grew by 38% in 2010. This phenomenal growth has led to strong optimism, with businesses predicting to grow staff numbers from an average of 4.4 paid staff to 6 in the next 12 months.
Deborah Sharkey, eBay Vice President, “We know that Australian’s prefer to buy from local online retailers, they trust them and want to ensure that their money benefits the local economy.”
“Consequently, there is a huge opportunity for traditional retail players to adopt a multi channel strategy and offer consumers products online. This structural transformation of the retail sector will inevitably lead to a redistribution of employment opportunities for those involved in Australian retail,” Sharkey concluded.
 Daniel Petre 2011, ‘Satisfaction guaranteed’, Australian Financial Review (AFR), 25 February.