Consumers are being urged to do their online shopping locally in the run up to Christmas despite the strength of the Australian dollar and what it can buy overseas. Virtual retailer eStore.com.au claims prices from Australian e-tailers are significantly lower than those available overseas, and that shoppers are hit by hidden charges and other issues impacting purchases from overseas.Lorenzo Coppa, Chief Executive Officer of eStore.com.au, said: “While it might seem cheaper to buy from an overseas online retailer, the reality is that the price of the product can increase substantially once you add on the shipping cost. Furthermore, with certain types of goods such as technology products, there can be issues associated from buying overseas such as warranties, compliance with Australian standards and damage to the products while in transit which may not be honoured by overseas online stores.”
Forecasts for Aussie e-tailers are also buoyant. According to PayPal’s ‘eCommerce: Secure Insight’ report from Forrester Research and The Leading Edge, the Australian online retail market is set to reach AU$36.8 billion by 2013, up from a forecasted figure of AU$26.86 billion for calendar year 2010.
The report also found that Australians showed a preference to ‘buy Aussie’ with nearly a quarter of Australian adults only shopping online with domestic websites. With the main driver of overseas shopping being a wider choice, rather than price.
eStore.com.au’s own figures show a rise in the company’s online sales. “Over the last few months, we’ve noticed an increase in Australian consumers shopping online,” said Coppa. “This correlates to a 52 per cent increase in our online sales compared to the last financial year.”
Coppa adds that consumer behaviour is changing and consumers are getting more technology savvy and comfortable with buying online.
“Shopping for commodities is well suited to an online shopping environment, said Coppa. “Consumers today generally know what they want whilst trying to save time and money. Many consumers research their options thoroughly and then hunt online for the best prices around,” added Coppa.
The company showcased the benefits of buying locally by pricing similar products sold by US online retailer Amazon. It showed an Acer G245Hbmid Black 24″ 5ms HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor which retails for USD $251.53 (AUD $261.38) by Amazon that is being sold by eStore.com.au for AUD $179 (after a AUD$39 cash back from Acer Australia). In addition, a Samsung S2 640Gb portable hard drive which is listed on Amazon for USD $118.34 (AUD $123.06) is being sold by eStore.com.au for AUD $79.
Coppa also warned Australian consumers buying technology products not to fall prey to common pitfalls of buying overseas. These include the differences in voltage between the US and Australia, the requirement of GST on shipments over $1,000 to be paid to customs, and ADSL routers and mobile phone devices which may not comply with Australian standards, or may be illegal to use in Australia.
Other pitfalls, according to Coppa, include receiving counterfeited branded products, electronic and PC games that are not rated or censored to Australian standards that may get confiscated by Customs, and purchasing from unreputable operators which may result in the product being covered by warranties that would be honoured.
Coppa said: “Buying locally also means that you’ll get your goods quicker and in time for Christmas compared to buying from overseas online retailers who may face additional problems such as getting the products cleared by Australian Customs and shipping delays during the Christmas rush.”