• Booktopia CEO, Tony Nash. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
In April, global e-commerce giant Amazon announced it would soon be opening its retail operations in Australia, putting many local businesses on edge.
SBS Small Business Secrets
25 Jun 2017 - 5:35 PM  UPDATED 11 Apr 2018 - 2:44 PM

Even before Amazon officially announced it would launch in Australia, Booktopia's Chief Executive Tony Nash was feeling the heat.

The company was forced to abandon a $100 million share market float last year, when it found investors were too spooked about the potential arrival of US retailing giant.

"When you're an investor and there's a lot of unknowns, it's hard to dedicate your money to something that you're not sure about," Tony says. "We're sure about our business but we just couldn't convince the investment community to move forward."

Did the move dent the business financially or reputationally?

"Our sales continue to grow. In 2015, our revenue was $52 million. In FY2015-16 it was $80 million and then we're on track, two months out, to do a hundred million. So if you think about that growth doubling over two years, you'd have to say it didn't have any impact at all," Tony says.

His attention is now firmly focused on bolstering what the business does best.

"How we've prepared [for the arrival of Amazon] is by really focusing on the customer. And Australian book buyers like a lot of Australian content and that doesn't just mean wanting to read a book by Bryce Courtney of Di Morrissey ... it's also academic books - universities, texts, police officer exam books."

"The other thing that we've done is over many years we've had a customer service team in-house, ready to take in-bound calls. Try and look up Amazon's number on their website. We've got a team here in Sydney who are ready to take a phone call, answer live help on the website, respond to emails -  so people feel like if you order from us you can communicate with a real person." 

Tony is confident those factors can help Booktopia hold on to most of its market share.

"The basic premise that I work off is that the Australian book market is a $2.4 billion market. If Amazon took 60% of that - that's 1.4 billion for them - there's still a billion for the rest of us. And, well, there's a lot of opportunity there."

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