Adopt e-commerce now or take the slow boat

Australian companies are at risk of being "amazoned" if they don't adopt e-commerce strategies and form key alliances.

David Tonkin, CEO of successful online travel agent travel.com.au, said Australian companies are slow to adopt e-commerce strategies and are already starting to miss out on key partnerships.

"If Australian companies don't invest in [e-commerce] and don't do it well, they'll get 'amazoned', Tonkin said.

"Amazon has most of the books; Dymocks and Angus & Robertson have a very small percentage of book sales on the Internet and as soon as Amazon opens a distribution channel here -- which I'm sure it will -- it's got the game."

Tonkin attributes much of the success of travel.com.au to the company's early adoption of the Internet and e-commerce. "It was easier early and we had more time to get to where we are," Tonkin said.

"I think the entry costs are getting higher and higher. To set up a very strong e-commerce site, it's now in the millions of dollars to do it well, add value and continually upgrade the technology, the speed, the bandwidth . . . as well as have a lot of strength in customer support and customer service people.

"Basically we've been successful because we've had the technology and we've had knowledge within the travel industry, which we've converted to use on the Internet," he said. Tonkin told Computerworld he is confident travel.com.au will remain a strong player in the online travel industry despite new entries to the game including Telstra Big Pond Travel.

"Our view is [the Big Pond site] has got a few more extra things, but it's not great.

"We don't believe people will buy travel from somebody called Big Pond Travel because they're paying money to Telstra for travel, not a travel company."

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