Friday, December 12, 2014

A New Tax on overseas purchases is unproductive and lacks vision.

Christmas time is the retailers golden time to shine; promotions earlier in the calendar year pale in comparison as the golden child of retail presents front and centre from late November to mid January. Some retailers have been known to make 50%+ of their annual profits in the Christmas period. Christmas is also the time of giving – and it appears local Australian retailers might have provided overseas retailers with a late season free kick.

Last week leading Australian retailer Solomon Lew (chairman of Premier Investments – a group who also owns and operate stores such as Portmans, Peter Alexander and Smiggle amongst others) –stated that a move by Australia Post to work with overseas retailers to ship to Australia was a “free kick for overseas suppliers”. However it might be Mr. Lew’s comments that will be the biggest free kick for the overseas retailers.

Whilst Australia Post work with an opportunity to grow their parcels business on the back of the eCommerce boom, the underlying concern for Mr. Lew is that the $1,000 NO GST threshold still applies on overseas purchases. However; every time a major retailer bemoans the GST threshold it receives a front-page news highlight reel that reminds the Australian consumer that cheaper goods exist overseas and just in time for Christmas & New Year shopping periods.

Mr Lew’s comments on the overseas GST threshold are not new – nor is he alone. Messer’s Brooks, Harvey and Zimmerman have sung a chorus for GST threshold reform since 2011 and despite a productivity commission reporting in 2012 stating that a reduction in the threshold would actually cost more than it would receive, the chorus continue to sing.

When the retailers initially started the campaign for change in 2011 the Australian Dollar was flying high – sitting at or above parity. The high Australian Dollar continued right up until this year; today the Aussie dollar sunk to a 4 year low. The low Australian dollar makes it less appealing for overseas purchases, so at least as the campaign has continued, the retailers might have possibly learned a more appropriate time to voice their opinion. Regardless of timing, no government has expressed a strong desire to for GST reforms for imported goods. With the fall of the Australian dollar you may think proponents calling for new tax might look for opportunity rather than old-fashioned protectionism. 

If Australia’s major retailers had invested their energy in innovation - their prospects would be looking better today. The business leaders calling for a new tax are the same that have been slow to embrace the online opportunity. Major US retailers such as Macy’s & Nordstrom were forced by the market to change and adapt while their counterparts in Australia dragged their feet.

Despite which side of the GST fence you sit, there is an argument we Australians should all unanimously agree “Tax avoidance and the failure of the current law to collect GST on services by corporations such as Google, Apple and Facebook is a huge concern and has a larger impact to our economy”.

Lets focus on Google for example. Google is the largest receiver of marketing money in Australia – yet pays a pittance in tax – as offshore billing for a local service, followed by further money movements reduces the total tax bill of the global giant. Small business  & medium businesses that send similar amounts to the tax office find news of companies like Google tax contribution very disturbing.

How do we as Australian taxpayers accept this situation? We reward it by continually using the plethora of Google products.

The total amount of advertising billed by Google Australia is estimated to be in excess of a billion dollars; however the tax paid to the Australian Government is under 10 million dollars! How can this be? A service was provided to Australians by an Australian entity and in Australia!

As Australia struggles to identify savings to fund much needed programs for the country – Google acts like Scrooge McDuck swimming in his money pit.

Australia is not alone with this conundrum. Other countries where Goolge has a significant presence also suffer the pain of missed tax revenue – USA, UK, France and Germany and others join us. Google bills its Australian AdWords via Google Ireland – neatly avoiding the need to charge and collect GST. The fee from Ireland is in turn paid to a Dutch subsidiary, which then sends it back to an Irish holding company with headquarters based in Bermuda where the weather is nice and there is no corporate law.

Many western laws around the globe have struggled to keep pace with the digital world and this example of mass corporate tax avoidance is no different. Australians need to be united on this front. After all it’s us who miss out on the benefits consumption tax was designed to deliver. Regardless of political preference or GST threshold opinion, this is something we should be focused on.

A first step is to require the companies to collect GST on their services. This system already operates in the UK in regards to VAT. It is traceable via electronic data, as opposed to physical intervention (border bureaucracy with no net benefit and that will eventually be dismantled).

Journalist Mark Jones from the Financial Review and I raised this issue in February 2007 as an urgent taxation issue facing the new economy.  Fast forward 8 years and nothing has changed to make companies like Google, ebay, Facebook and others to collect GST on payments made to monster ecommerce companies.

This is a smart adjustment to current GST laws to collect the money electronically that will collect billions effectively into the future.

Australia weathered the storm of the GFC largely shielded by China’s unsalable appetite for our minerals and our economy was in good condition; with debt forecast now well into the future, Australia must think and act globally.  A potential food and services focus of Australian products to Asia sits on our horizon, as do other export opportunities including services and tourism. 

Whist Australian debt rises we need to look towards changes to the tax system to provide low cost collection and improve productivity, not the opposite.

As continued globalization and access to new technologies, cross border trade represents a great opportunity for Australia. The Australian competitive future dictates that we remove trade restrictions and friction points to make us competitive.

Why build a new bureaucracy that creates red tape and has a major effect of slowing down our borders?

Lets focus on requiring foreign companies to collect GST as a starting point and then look at ways to have them pay a fair company tax that will require a G20 approach. 

The big retailers should stop stepping over dollars to pick up cents and as the GST threshold is discussed again in the media – “let’s change the topic and the focus on the real elephant in the room”.

Phil Leahy

Thursday, November 6, 2014 as the Lead Partner at our 2015 Conference in Vegas, a new event introducing a global perspective to online retailers, announced today that it has added, the leading platform for wholesale trade, as its diamond partner of ThinkGlobal Retail 2015 to be held in Las Vegas, U.S.

 ThinkGlobal Retail 2015 is an eCommerce Conference and Expo that will provide the perfect platform to engage, share knowledge and build new relationships with industry leaders from around the world.

Conference founder and CEO Phil Leahy said: “We are very happy to announce as our diamond partner of ThinkGlobal Retail 2015. is the leading e-commerce company who has enabled the success of millions of businesses around the world. We look forward to introducing’s tools to more businesses and helping them learn about global trade.”

ThinkGlobal Retail will host leading experts from the US, China, Australia and the United Kingdom who will reveal secrets, proven tactics and real world examples that will have profitable impacts on online businesses.

During the two-day event, ThinkGlobal Retail will be featuring 50+ renowned industry leaders who will conduct 3 streams of over 35 content sessions. Attendees will gain valuable insight to global marketplaces, online retailing tools, social media marketing & International PPC & SEO. Additionally, online retailers will have access to leading solution providers and networking events.

A world of change in eCommerce starts here: August 20 & 21, 2015 Las Vegas

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Integrating eCommerce and Social Media has Big Benefits for Online Retailers

Finding new ways to add functionality to eCommerce sites is typically an effective way to improve online sales. There is now an array of tools and apps that eCommerce site owners can use to integrate social shopping features on their sites, turning the site into a variation on Pinterest. Alternatively, site owners can link their retail sites with Facebook for even more functionality.
Facebook and the Phenomenon of Social Shopping
There are now apps that business owners can use to advertise products directly on the business’s Facebook page—everything from loan products or loan comparison tools, to retail fashions, makeup, and other personal products. So far such apps are proving particularly popular for businesses selling clothing, beauty products, and health and wellness products, which lend themselves particularly well to “social shopping”—the eCommerce phenomenon in which shoppers involve their friends in the shopping experience by virtue of likes, shares, and comments that show up in the newsfeeds of people whose friends purchase products. This, combined with other aspects of social shopping, give it huge potential for improving online sales.
The social shopping aspect alone is one huge reason why it’s beneficial for eCommerce sites to integrate Facebook apps. If your retail site supports Facebook, people who sign up can see purchases made by people on their friends list, which at once is a powerful incentive to purchase the same products, or other ones. As well as this, integrating Facebook has the additional advantage of making it easier for new customers to sign up to a retail site and start shopping immediately, without having to create a new account. The process of creating a new account can be enough of a time-waster that people get deterred from signing up and making purchases on retail sites that are new to them, and anything that makes this process faster and easier has the potential to increase sales significantly.
Integrating Pinterest-like Functionality into an eCommerce Site
Another effective aspect of social shopping is the functionality that turns an eCommerce site into something that resembles a Pinterest board. People using the site can add products to a wish list, mark likes and favourites, and recommend products to other users. Everyone who uses the site can see what the most popular items are, and individual users can see when someone they’re following makes recommendations, too, which adds a layer of credibility that creates a powerful incentive to purchase recommended items.
Another way to take advantage of this kind of functionality is to integrate with large social shopping sites like Kaboodle. Sites that are dedicated to social shopping reach a huge number of people, due to the large range of products that users can view, and the array of functionality that the sites provide, such as the ability to create wish lists, style boards, and create and participate in polls. Kaboodle and other such sites typically allow the user to sign in which Facebook, which provides additional features and advantages.
What are the Benefits to Retailers?
Adding social shopping features to an eCommerce site—even something as simple as the ability to share individual products on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest—can increase sales directly, but there are other potential advantages of social shopping.
For example, algorithms that track a customer’s purchases and integrate that data with their activity on social networking sites can more accurately predict what the user is likely to buy in the future, and make recommendations accordingly. Many sites now include features that allow users to see what other people have bought, and when someone is looking at a particular product, they are also shown not only related products, but also products bought by people who purchased the original item. Instead of going shopping with friends, people can now shop with hundreds or thousands of other people, and this creates a very powerful social incentive to buy.
Brian Honigman. “6 Effective Waysto Integrate Social Media with Your E-Commerce Website.” Accessed June 30, 2014. In SumAll Salon, Social Media Edition.
Compare. “Compare Loans.” Accessed June 30, 2014. Online tool for loan comparison.
Digital Strategy Consulting. “Online retail trends of 2013 - The search for shopping’s ‘missing link’.” Accessed June 30, 2014. What works and doesn’t work in eCommerce.
Easy Social Shop. “Make Facebook work for your Online Business.” Accessed June 30, 2014. App for business owners using social shopping.
Entrepreneur. “The Power of Social Shopping Networks.” Accessed June 30, 2014. Advantages of integrating social shopping capability.
Freshminds. “How Online Retailers can Benefit from Social Shopping.” Accessed June 30, 2014. Reasons to integrate social shopping features.
Kaboodle. Accessed June 30, 2014. Social shopping website.
Shopify Facebook. “Sell your Products Directly through Facebook.” Accessed June 30, 2014. Social shopping tool for use with Facebook.
The Daily Egg. “Top 7 Facebook eCommerce Apps for Businesses.” Accessed June 30, 2014. Engaging customers on Facebook as well as eCommerce sites.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Why Australia is the hotspot for Internet enabled trade

Despite the tyranny of distance, the high Australian dollar, and our reliance on natural resources – Australia is in the box seat for Internet enabled trade.

--> Coinciding with the G20 Trade Ministers meeting taking place in Sydney later this week on July 19, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) today released a new report revealing Australia is ranked first among G20 countries for e-Trade readiness.

The EIU analysed five factors that contributed to a country’s e-trade readiness - investment climate, Internet environment, international trading environment, regulatory and legal framework, and epayments environment.

Australia has emerged on top of the rankings, followed closely by the US, South Korea, UK, and Japan. Affordable Internet access, a well-developed regulatory framework for commerce, high usage of epayments and high smartphone penetration has created an environment conducive to global e-trade.

Australians have been quick to adopt new technologies that help simplify their everyday lives, with mobile driving deep behaviour change and transforming the way consumers connect with businesses.

Transactions on mobile devices for now accounts for more than 40 percent. Three years ago, only 1 in 100 transactions via PayPal was on a mobile device; today, this has skyrocketed to 1 in 3.

No longer isolated by distance, Australians have also been quick to tap into the ease and convenience of online shopping. According to Euromonitor International, Internet retailing is expected to grow 17% in Australia between 2013 and 2018.

There is a huge opportunity for Australian businesses to embrace the benefits of global e-trade. The Internet is leveling the playing field for retailers and enterprises of all sizes, and enabling them to reach global markets.

According to PayPal’s Modern Spice Routes report, cross-border online shopping in Australia is expected to increase 300% in five years - from $5billion in 2013 to $16 billion by 2018.

eBay sellers are already prolific exporters, with around 80% of commercial eBay sellers (sales of AUD $10,000 or more) exporting to global markets, compared to only 3% for companies operating offline. That figure increases to 97% when eBay Australian retailers generate more than AUD $100,000 sales per year.
eBay Australian exporters who sell more than AUD$10,000 a year, export to an average to 28 destinations.

While careful attention must be paid balancing prudent regulation and openness to innovation and trade, we need to continue to lower the barriers for trade and create an atmosphere that allows all Australian businesses to benefit from the cross-border trade opportunity.
Director of Public Policy, Asia-Pacific at eBay Inc

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My best decision was booking Vinh Giang

My best decision of the conference was booking Vinh Giang as a keynote speaker this year. On a personal level he hit the mark. Our survey data confirmed the same.  In my job of looking after the content of the conference which includes placing 80+ speakers, I make it my business to attend (at least) one conference a month. I get to see some of the best. In May at Magento Imagine in Las Vegas (one of the best conferences to attend) I had the pleasure of listening to a keynote from the great Malcolm Gladwell.  They don’t come much better than Gladwell.  If I could only spend everyday with a speakers like Malcolm…

The most enjoyable part of my job is listening to greatness. The best part: Delivering greatness by picking someone like Vinh Giang to deliver a keynote. If I have any skill above others, it is the ability to find the best people.
I thank Vinh for raising the bar.

I do make this prediction: Vinh Giang will be famous and will help many in his path.   I look forward to witnessing his journey.

Thanks Vinh for one of the best keynotes that I have ever seen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

PeSA Gala Charity Dinner raises $52, 802 for The Reach Foundation

I am pleased to report that our annual charity initiative, the PeSA Gala Charity Dinner, raised $52, 802 for The ReachFoundation. This brings our total to over $260,000 for the 6 years since our first event. I would like to thank my charity team Helena Stylman, Kimberly Palmer, Claire Kowarsky & Samantha Charlton for their hard work in staging the night.

The night’s entertainment was the best yet with our MC Jay Jay who had the audience in stitches with his magician performance, our auctioneer Martin Ewart was in fine form with the gags and Alice Quiddington delivered some fine tunes that has people on the dance floor until close.

We are very proud to support the Reach Foundation for the important work that they do for our youth and remembering the legacy of the great man, Jim Stynes.

Thanks to everyone that attended and especially for those that bid on the auctions and brought raffle tickets.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Capital injection:

Capital injection:

PeSA Internet Conference offers three businesses the chance for a $50,000 capital injection in 2014

An exciting new session at the 8th annual PeSA Internet Conference will (Live on Stage) give three finalists the opportunity to pitch their business or idea and potentially walk away with a new $50,000 investment in the business. The conference session, called Capital Injection, is open for applications by any Australian business that attend the conference, as long as their application is submitted by 15 May.
The applications will be judged in advance and whittled down to three worthy businesses. These three businesses will then ‘pitch’ their business, in front of a live audience and three judges, at the final session of the Conference. If there is a convincing case put forward to the judges, they will either make an offer of investment or a loan that can be accepted or rejected by the finalist.
Modeled on programs like Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den, Internet Conference Director Phil Leahy says this type of session is unique to Internet Conference. “We have been supporting innovative Australian online retailers for eight years with the conference and we’re so excited to be able to extend that support with this new Capital Injection offering. The business will gain a valuable investment partner, both in terms of funds and experience.”
Applicants needs to answer questions such as:
•    Where will the investment funds go?
•    What attempts have you made to build your business?
•    The circumstances surrounding how you developed and conceived your business.
•    What is unique about your business and what is ‘the hook’
The capital injection will require a portion of the company ownership being awarded to the investor.


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Monday, January 13, 2014

We want Symantec!

Dear Team Symantec,

The PeSA team has been trying to reach out to anyone at (your great company) who will listen about sponsoring our conference bags. We've tried tweeting, calling and emailing!  That’s how serious we are about wanting to start a partnership with you!  Not only have we have seen your bags being toted around at numerous events, like Online Retailer and the eCommerce expo, but we even use your laptop bag on daily bases during our commute to work. Don't believe me? Check out our Conference Director Helena being snapped on the busy streets of Sydney walking to a meeting! 

Our eighth event being held May 28th-30th 2014 on the Gold Coast, will be bringing together 900 attendees for 2 and a half days of networking and learning best practices and solutions that can grow their online business. Everything is just about finalised - except for 1 missing piece to complete an otherwise seamless event,  our 900 delegates are in need of a conference bag they can comfortably carry around for the duration of the event and we would like nothing more than to see our attendees walking around with a Symantec bag!  The Symantec brand = cool.  (Check out the brands who think we are cool).

Australians to re-launch US conference for online sellers in Vegas in August 2014

For immediate release

Koalas, beaches, the outback…and world-leading ecommerce conference?

Australians to re-launch US conference for online sellers in Vegas in August 2014

After a four-year hiatus in the USA, The Professional eBay and eCommerce Alliance (PeSA) will again stage a two-day annual conference for those at the coal-face of ecommerce. Phil Leahy, Australia’s former #1 eBay seller, has secured the license for the brand from PeSA USA founder; Joe Cortese. Phil has been successfully running the PeSA Internet Conference in Australia for eight years.

Despite its small population size, Australia leads the world with the rate of new online stores opening, with a 200% increase from 2010 to 2012. Online shoppers in Australia spend more on average per order than anyone else in the world (at $142 in 2013). So perhaps its not surprising that the PeSA Internet Conference in Australia has been the longest running ecommerce conference in the land – and will use that experience to ensure the Vegas conference will be unlike any other ecommerence conference.

“Unlike other conferences, PeSA is focused on practicality – the HOW to sell online, not the THEORY of selling online. Our speakers are all people who’ve built successful online businesses themselves. The PeSA Advisory Board members are all experienced online sellers, ensuring that all conference content is highly relevant to those who are in the business of online retailing. It’s also about genuine sharing of information, not selling” says Leahy.

“The PeSA Internet Conference in Australia has hugely positive attendee feedback, with excellence scores above 90% for content, organization and networking. More positive still is the returning delegate numbers, with a 50% return rate the norm.” continues Leahy.

 “I am thrilled to host the PeSA USA conference after eight years of successful PeSA conferences in Australia. I have been involved with PeSA USA for over 10 years and I am passionate about assisting businesses with the most relevant information to help grow their businesses and provide networking with industry peers. We don’t aim to the be biggest – we aim to be the best, and our attendees tell us every year that we are.”  

The Flamingo in Las Vegas will host the 14th PeSA Conference on August 21 & 22 of this year. 

Expert Speaker Lineup!

Whils the agenda is still being built, leading Keynote Speakers confirmed include:

·      Tim Ash - CEO, Sitetuners. The guru of landing-page optimization and conversation rates.

·      Marty Weintraub - founder of, aimClear® Online Marketing Agency. Social media maverick and innovator.

·      John Lawson - CEO colderICE. “The Power Seller” and “The King of eBay”.

·      Jonathan Garriss - founder of Gotham City Online & co-Founder Poster Revolution. Jonathan’s companies have sold more than 8 million units online!

·      Adam Hersh - founder of Poster Revolution. Adam has sold over 10 million units online via eBay and Amazon and after having three of his companies acquired within a six-year period, his knowledge of how to properly scale a business is priceless.

“We are working on the 2 day agenda that will see over 50 international & local speakers, three streams of content that include eBay, online retailing tools, social media & marketing.

Tickets are only $395 if bookings are made before April 30, 2014. (

For more information & bookings for the PeSA Internet Conference on 21 & 22 August please visit www.GoPesa.Org 

PR Inquiries: Kimberly Palmer, 917-215-8116,


- June 2013 BigCommerce Report based on survey with 35,000 global ecommerce businesses