Why Buying Games Online May Actually End Up Saving The Australian Economy

Buying video games is detrimental to the Australian economy, right? Well, not exactly, claims Leigh Williams, the founder and CEO of eStore Logistics - who has seen his profits and staff count triple in the last year alone. We spoke to Leigh about the rapidly growing online shopping sector, and how it may end up creating more jobs for Australians in the short and long term.

"Yes, you might have to pay more,” claimed Gerry Harvey. “But it's the right thing to do. You'll pay a lot more if we lose jobs and retailers close down."

Gerry Harvey is talking, of course, about the perils on online retail, and the influx of Australian consumers buying their goods online; regurgitating the standard line that shopping online is the harbinger of our economic demise - that the retail industry will collapse, thousands of jobs will be lost and we, the almighty consumer, will ultimately pay the cost of our online shopping sins with an inflated cost of living.

But does this assertion hold any real weight? And what are the real consequences of shopping online? As avid consumers of video games we generally punch above our weight when it comes to importing goods from overseas – are our actions detrimental to local industry?

Leigh Williams, Founder and CEO of eStore Logistics says no, quite the opposite. By shopping online, gamers are, in actual fact, aiding the Australian economy.

“Gerry Harvey and others will criticise consumers for going out and buying video games online,” he begins, “even if that online store is based in Australia - because there’s this perception that you’re contributing to the closure of regular retailers.

“But just because you’re not actually physically walking into your local EB or JB Hifi, that doesn’t mean you’re not supporting the local industry."

eStore Logistics is a rapidly growing company that helps manage the rapid increase in Australian online shopping – it’s their job is to help eStores like OzGameShop and PlayAsia move product from the manufacturers, to warehouses, to your home. In the past year they’ve grown by 288% - a growth rate that has led to a three-fold increase in staff.

“We work with a number of different online retailers who ship out thousands of products every day to consumers around the country,” he claims. “Just because you’re shopping online, that doesn’t mean you’re not contributing to the Australian economy in some way.

“Increases in online shopping is directly affecting the rise of auxillary industries in Australia – like logistics - just because the jobs are moving from retail, that doesn’t mean they’re disappearing from Australia. They’re appearing in new areas.”

It turns out that, even if you buy video games from eStores based overseas – such as PlayAsia or OzGameShop, you’re still having a positive impact on the Australian economy.

“If you happen to buy from an international web store, the goods have got to get to you somehow,” says Leigh, "and that’s still going through the Australian supply chain once it hits the country.”

Leigh Williams believes that the rise of online shopping has the potential to provide more jobs than retail – in new, rapidly growing industries such as logistics.

“More jobs will be created through the handling,” claims Leigh, “because handling is actually much higher in the logistics department for a consumer order compared to a retail order.

“It creates competition. Australians are getting better value for money and in most cases jobs are being created in other areas where they’re being lost at retail.”

And Leigh Williams’ assertions are being backed up by recent studies. Just two weeks ago the McKinsey Global Institute released a report stating that 21% of GDP growth in mature countries could be attributed to new industries driven by the internet - for every job lost offline, 2.6 jobs are being created online.

These are findings that go directly against the culture of fear being stoked by retailers struggling to adapt to what is essentially a rapid fire siege of competition in a territory where there was no competition before; a territory where, typically, one or two specialist retailers have been privvy to a monopoly over what was sold, and at what price.

Now there is competition, and traditional retailers must adapt to that competition - consumers aren’t suffering and, by all accounts, neither is the Australian economy. There is undoubtedly still a place for Australian retailers, but it’s up to the retailers themselves to work out precisely where that place is.


    The thing I like about online shopping is the computer doesn't ask the question "So what do I have to do to get this sale?" Also, apparently go **** yourself is not the right answer.

    “Yes, you might have to pay more,” claimed Gerry Harvey. “But it’s the right thing to do. You’ll pay a lot more if we lose jobs and retailers close down.”

    So the Australian games industry is becoming a charity now?

    Exactly how are people going to pay a lot more if retailers close down? It seems importing means you pay a lot less. For those who import, why do we need these retailers?

    Stores close, people lose their jobs. People lose. But who benefits in the short and long term? Consumers. And thats all that matters.

    Biz-urn! Nice article.

    I agree the price of video games in Australia are ridiculous and I never pay 80-90$ for a new release game. I just wait for a sale. But I don't buy my games online. I enjoy going to the game store and looking through the sales. But that's just me :)

    It's unfortunate that Gerry Harvey got involved in all this at all; he's so unlikable that even if he made a comment about adopting kittens we'd all be like "f--- your kittens, i can get kittens cheaper from overseas and they're basically the same kittens".

    The problem is that Australia is an expensive country to live in. Rent, power, food, all of this is noticably dearer than America or most of Europe. Gerry's argument has some truth to it; when we buy from overseas, Australia loses out on tax revenue on multiple fronts, not just GST. Sure, the popular view that buying overseas means some businessjerk will have to wait longer for his next Ferarri may have a grain of truth, but they're the vast minority. What about the couple for thousand people who're employed by said jerk? "They'll get jobs elsewhere", you say. But where? Online retailing? Too bad its crazy with competition from overseas retailers but that's ok because competition is good, right? Or Australia Post? How many delivery people do we really need? Certainly not thousands. Retail is a huge employer in Australia, and not supporting that sector will cause long term harm to our economy, especially when we cant charge as much for our coal and iron ore anymore. Sure, you're getting it cheaper now and thats ok because it's money in your pocket, but you'll cry and whine like a baby when you too lose your job to an offshore competitor who's paying a third of the wages Austalians require.

    Gotta look at it from both sides, people.

      70% of the tax revenues came from the big 4 banks last financial year, not GST earned through retail.

      Power is subsidised, it is very cheap in Australia; food is subsidised but is overall expensive coz lot of is does get exported. Rents are kept artificially high by greedy councils and a lack of forward planning.
      If people lose their jobs then we need to go where we are needed, mining is taking job seekers with open arms. We have the right to be employed not the right to have a specific job.

      Retailers say they sell products at 200% the price we can import said goods because distributors charge them so much.
      Distributors/Producers say they charge so much because retailers demand it. Weird

        Firstly, I doubt your numbers are accurate, unless you have reliable sources to bqck them up.

        Secondly, i'm not talking about just GST (why does everyone get hung up on that?), i'm talking about all tax revenue; company tax and income tax aren't loose change.

        Thindly, try getting a job at a mine without some decent qualifiations. I wish you the best of luck.

        I'm not talking about 'saving' specific jobs, i'm talking about an entire sector of the economy; a huge industry that we're apparently willing to throw under a truck. I'm not saying buying from online merchants is bad, I do it a lot. I'm just saying that we cant be blind to the effects of blindly following that path to its logical conclusion.

          No-one wants to see Australian retail going down the drain, I think we can agree on that. However just to say: buy Australian products or from Australian companies, is clearly not enough. I as a consumer have the choice, I do not have to change, what needs change are the retailers.
          How can you in all honesty say that your own online sales are cutting into your brick-and-mortar profits?

          And concerning qualification, I am sure they are transferable, when you have learned accounting in the wholesale/retail industry you can do accounting in other businesses too.
          This is a "new era", with internet and all the jazz, I am sure weavers and tanners were equally astonished, afraid and angry when they firsts saw a steam engine; things change and we need to do that too.

    Now if we could just convince them that "2-14"days delivery windows need to be a little more like "Monday Morning" we'll be all set.

    Heck, I'd pay Aus Post to redeliver missed deliveries (which I'm pretty sure people sometimes just drop straight at the post office and never swung by my home).

    Argh stop blaming retailers . IT'S THE PUBLISHERS. The same thing is happening to the Aussie bookstores , they'd love to be able to compete but when you can only buy from one supplier your stuffed.

      And yet the publishers blame the retailers for having to mark up the price on services such as Steam and GOG. Also the publishers don't set the ridiculously high price of pre-owned games which are often just a few dollars less than the new cost anyway.

      If I can buy a new game from overseas at significantly less cost that a local second hand copy of a game that has been out for a few months then there is still a huge problem with the local retailer.

        The same thing is definitely true of books. I live in the UK and was visiting my parents in Geelong December last year. Wandered into their Borders (my dad says it's closed now but doesn't care as he gets everything through Amazon) and had a look at some of the prices.

        Books had their UK price on the back cover of £4.99 (about $8 Aus then) and the shop was trying to flog it for $22.99.

        As for pre-owned, it's a real shame. Again, I live in the UK and used to work in GAME here until 2004. Back then it was great - we, the staff, were allowed to give whatever we wanted for pre-owned, and charge whatever we wanted for pre-owned. So we did some great prices - if things were coming in which we knew we had lots of or wouldn't sell we'd offer less of a price and put it out at less of a price. If stuff came in which we knew would sell well (e.g. Ico) we'd give better prices and put it out higher.

        Never did we give almost-nothing and then put a game out at huge prices.

        Unfortunately this changed when head office put in a system which dictated how much to give and how much to put games out for. We were then stuck, no matter what, to giving fixed prices (a lot less than what we were giving before) and putting games out at fixed prices (a lot more than what we were putting games out at before).

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now