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Aussies Online: Sales To Hit $25bn

By Computer Daily News & Oonagh Reidy | Wednesday | 21/08/2013

SYDNEY - Online retail sales in Australia will reach more than $18 billion in 2013 and grow 39 percent to $25 billion by 2015, according to a new survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan for NetSuite and the Australian Retailers Association.

The figures cover purchases by Australian consumers on both local and overseas Web sites.

However the report estimates that, while more than 50 percent of Australia's 77,000 retail businesses now have a Web site, only one-third currently accept orders online - suggesting there is a potential for a much bigger rise, as more businesses move to online sales.

The report found an estimated 33-50 percent of all online expenditure by Australian shoppers is still going to overseas sites. 

However, some believe the falling Aussie dollar may offer a welcome boost to e-tailers, making goods purchased from international retailers more expensive.  

"I think a low dollar will be good and will create a lot more momentum in the local market," Paul Greenberg from Online Retailers Association told ABC today.   

He believes there's a "real opportunity now to get into the game now and compete fair and square and win the Australian shopper back."

Major retailers have always protested against the lack of GST on goods purchased online from international retailers under $1000, claiming it created an unfair advantage. 

But now it looks like the ball may be back in local online retailers' court.  

Frost & Sullivan estimates online penetration in Australia is still only around seven percent of total retail sales.

This means traditional retailers in Australia need to consider adopting an omnichannel strategy that leverages all channels - social, phone, Web and physical stores - to remain viable, the report says.

That compares with around 10 percent in the UK and the USA - F&S forecasts Australian online sales won't reach this level until 2015.

The largest online expenditure by Australians is on clothing, footwear and personal accessories, followed by electrical and electronic items, it adds.

Helping drive online shopping Down Under is the increasing usage of mobile devices - some 30 percent of online shoppers use smartphones or tablets for online transactions, F&S estimates.

The report suggests the growing use of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube by retailers is helping drive sales.

"With over two-thirds of Australians now using social media online, it is increasingly important as a way to search for products, to obtain peer recommendations on products and to communicate with retailers or other businesses. This indicates a significant opportunity for retailers to leverage another channel to interact with consumers," it says.

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