THE Bendigo Business Council hopes to start a new chapter supporting retailers.
Executive officer Patrick Falconer said the group would look at ways to improve local retail outlets in the face of growing online competition.
“The idea is to help all retailers in Bendigo, not just at Hargreaves Mall,” Mr Falconer said.
“We think a retail chapter is needed for networking and running workshops for customer service, online services, and legal things like OH&S.
“There’s very little support for retail in Bendigo.”
Mr Falconer said there were challenges in the retail sector.
“But the challenges facing Bendigo retailers aren’t unique,” he said.
“They’re faced all over the world.
“There are successful retailers in Australia and we need to learn from their success, emulate their success and put in place work practices that will help their business to grow and continue to grow.”
Mr Falconer said online shopping was changing the retail landscape, but companies could change with it.
“I don’t have all the answers, but I think there’s got to be some innovation,” he said.
“We haven’t got there yet, but we’ve got to innovate to bring people back to the stores.
“I think the buzzword is ‘online’ and you can get a bit carried away with it. There are always things you need to try, see and feel; I wouldn’t buy a car or a bed online.”
The Bendigo Business Council has applied for a grant to start the retail chapter.
“It won’t get off the ground until, hopefully, the first quarter of next year,” Mr Falconer said.
“It’s about increased knowledge of what’s going on and being better prepared for the challenges facing retailers.”