Claire Lomax talks to expat ecommerce expert Angie McAlindon on the differences between ecommerce in Australia and Britain.
I first met Angie back in 2012 when she briefed me on a digital role in her team at Ted Baker in London. Before the first round interviews were complete, Angie rang me (full of excitement) to let me know that she was moving to Sydney in a few weeks. I remember thinking how brave she was to leave her life behind and jet off to the other side of the world.
Little did I know that three years down the line, I would be embarking on the same journey to Aus. in search of sun, schnitzel’s (no, I hadn’t had one before I came to Aus!) and the rapidly growing ecommerce industry that everyone was talking about.
I'd recruited in the ecommerce space for retailers in the UK for over five years, so it was super exciting to land in Sydney in early 2015 and see the projects and changes that were unfolding in the Australian industry.
Based on my multi-continent experience, the most common question I get asked is:
“What are the differences in the ecommerce industry here versus the UK”?
Initially I was surprised by the number of Aussie retailers and then equally surprised by how far behind the UK market they are in terms of digital. However, over the past six months it has been great to have conversations with so many companies about the transformation of their digital presence. My prediction; Australia will be on par with the UK within three years!
However, I’m not hands on doing this work every day, so it only seemed right to catch up with Angie all these years later and find out what her experience has been.
Angie has forged a fantastic career for herself in Sydney and has been part of some industry leading projects. As testament to this hard work and success, you will soon see Angie pop up in a new role leading ecommerce for one of Australia's coolest and fastest growing multi-channel retail brands.
Why did you decide to relocate to Australia?
I came back to Australia (for the second time) four years ago for a holiday to catch up with Aussie friends who had left the UK to come home. When I walked through the arrival gate I realised I didn’t wanted to go back to London – ever – it had been ten years since my last visit and I wanted to stay!
I also felt there was an opportunity to progress my career without being pigeonholed into just one field, which is the case back in the UK. It felt like a great chance for me to expand my skills and to be exposed to a lot more and my current skills were certainly an advantage.
What kind of roles were you looking for?
I was mainly looking for Ecommerce Manager jobs.
Did you find securing a job in ecommerce in Sydney straightforward?
After a hard and very long six months which included research into the market and building my Australian network, a great recruiter who had kept in contact finally managed to help land a role for me in Sydney.
What hurdles did you face when you were applying for roles?
Recruiters at the time in the UK were not very receptive to the idea actually working, so it took some tenacity to keep going and to not give up. Skype calls and poor reception made it hard to get a feel for the company or team you were talking too, which was hard and you had to ask a lot of questions, also the process was different from the UK, almost quicker and less formal.
What did you expect the ecommerce / digital market was going to be like when you decided to move?
I knew it wasn’t the same as the UK; I had so much feedback about team sizes, skill sets, website maturity levels and functionality differences. I also had read a report that anticipated China and Australia would be the next markets to boom online and I wanted to be involved.
What did you find it was like when you got here?
I found that not all online sectors were in the same basket; it felt like banking was ahead of the UK in leaps and bounds but fashion retail was further behind. Also the entrepreneurial attitude was refreshing, compared the British ‘let’s plan this out’ attitude, it gave certain situations more life and agility in ecommerce - but it’s all about balance.
What were the biggest surprises?
That I wasn’t the only Brit in the village! There are so many over here and people I had been in contact with from the UK, so it was a nice feeling to have people I know out here as well!
What do you miss about working in ecommerce in the UK? If anything
Having an established network of peers to talk to, bounce ideas off and generally having different types of support.
Where do you see the future of ecommerce is in Australia?
I think it will be interesting to see how the start-ups and the financial industry influence the market, as they are proving to be very dynamic and innovative and are offering more to the consumer than traditional and longer establish brands out here. The market in Australia is very inconsistent it is hard to share one common trend across the board.
Angie McAlindon – previously Ecommerce Director at Banjo and Matilda, soon to be leading Ecommerce for one of Australia's coolest and fastest growing multi-channel retail brands.