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Last night’s win by online retailer eBay of the Choice People’s award is a resounding victory for the medium, with consumers voting with their fingers to abandon bricks and mortar retailers by turning instead to clicks.eBay became the overwhelming winner of the online category, leading the field by 22 percent, ahead of rivals Apple and Amazon, with more than 12,000 voters registering their support.

Bricks and mortar retailers, meanwhile, gained just 2180 votes, in what is becoming a wide chasm between online and traditional retailing.

And it is a phenomenon that is fast being noted down under, with retailers starting to see online as a brand and engagement channel for driving instore traffic.

Just this week, speculation arose that a major new JB Hi Fi online appliance group could emerge out of the restructure of the struggling Clive Anthony retail operation, which is currently under review by JB Hi Fi management.

Harvey Norman also announced that his company is close to rolling out a new online store.

And John Lewis, the British retailer known for its mantra ‘never knowingly undersold’, is also set to join the brigade of online operators in Australia, aimed at stripping market share away from the likes of David Jones, Myer and Harvey Norman.

New research from Google, Salmat and the Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS) also shows that online businesses will explode onto the scene as consumers demand multichannel sales points.

At the Global Retail Insights seminar held in Sydney yesterday, the Association said retailers will need to meet technological challenges to provide more channels for Australian consumers.

 

According to its report, Australian consumers now demand retailers provide pre-purchase research resources and fully transactional websites similar to what is already available to the rest of the world.

“Retailers know they should be investing in ‘new media’ but are apprehensive about making those investments and are therefore missing out on opportunities”, says the report.

According to data collected by the latest survey, while more than two-thirds of consumers are more comfortable to shop at home, Australians also browsed international retail sites, making the competition for the online dollar ever harder for Australian retailers.

The British Retail Consortium in the UK, which is seen as the most advanced e-commerce country in the world, has also highlighted the pace at which the sector is growing.

Online is by far the fastest growing part of UK retailing but online retail data has so far not been quantified.

The BRC is partnering with Google to measure the growth of online retail traffic with the Google Online Retail Monitor, which is due to be published this month.

It will report changes and trends in numbers of unique visitors to retail websites, comparing the performance of online-only retailers with multi-channel retailers (those using stores and the internet).

There will be a geographical breakdown of online activity and the growth of smartphone retail traffic will also be measured. A ranking of the most popular retail search terms is intended to show current consumer trends.

 

It is expected that the tool will be able to establish key trends and determine retail hot spots for online traffic.

According to new results from a study of online shopping in Europe by ComScore, 270.6 million unique visitors in Europe visited sites in the Retail category, representing a market penetration of 74.5 percent of Internet users, up 8.5 percentage points versus last year.

Retail sites also showed high penetration in individual markets, reaching at least 75 percent of the total online audience in 7 out of 18 European markets. 

In 2010, approximately one out of every ten Internet sessions in Europe included a visit to a retail site.

In the United Kingdom, the Retail category reached 89.4 percent of the total online audience (up 6.3 points from last year), the highest penetration of any European market.

According to the figures, shoppers used the Internet mostly for Comparison Shopping, which reached 31.6 percent of the European market in January 2011, buoyed by Bing Ciao and Shopzilla Sites.

Apparel ranked second with a 28.4-percent reach, followed by Consumer Electronics with a 27.1-percent reach.

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