Australian Online Retail growing to over $33 billion by 2012
In comparison with the USA, Asia and Europe, Australia has been relatively slow to take full advantage of the business opportunities that eCommerce represents. Yet more and more Australians are searching and buying online. This year Australians will spend around $24 billion online and between 20 – 40% will be spent overseas. That compares to just 10% of online spend that goes off-shore in the USA.
So now is such an opportune time for existing Bricks and Mortar retailers or new Pure Play online retailers to review their online strategies and capitalise on the opportunities.
Australian businesses have a great opportunity to grow their business sales in tandem with the upward tread in online sales and to offer safe local alternatives for customers who buy from overseas online stores.
Australia is a safe place for an online store.
- We have great consumer protection which makes online shopping more acceptable.
- We have a strong regulatory framework protecting both consumers and merchants.
- We have a safe and solid banking environment.
- We have a range of quality shipping and logistics companies that know Australian and know about shipping overseas.
- We have a host of reliable technology companies that can provide services and infrastructure.
- We have a rapidly improving communications network that provided broadband access at reasonable prices.
- We have one of the world fastest growing mobile user bases.
But there are perceived inhibitors
- It’s all too hard! I don’t have the time and I don’t understand.
- It cost too much to sell online.
- Online sales take business from existing stores or channels.
- I can’t compete with large offshore stores.
- Web developers are expensive or difficult to find and trust.
- I can’t get an online merchant bank account or costs to high
- I’m afraid of fraud, someone will steal my products
- Shipping and logistics is too complex or expensive
There are thousands of Australian businesses who want to sell online but are worried about the inhibitors. eCorner can help and we provide a lot of assistance and advice to companies who want to start selling online.
The technology is now available to businesses of any size to enable them to get online easily and quickly.
In the past, a fully functioning website with eCommerce (online shopping basket) may have cost a business $10,000’s of dollars to develop and then $100’s of dollars each month to run. For a large retailer you could multiple that 10 fold. And if changes were needed it required costly developer resources. As browser technology evolved (Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome etc) these bespoke developed websites required constant changes to be kept up-to-date or they failed.
Now we have hosted and managed eCommerce solutions with the capability to generate a new online store in minutes that includes hosting, technical support and application management for less than $100 a month. The underlying software gets automatically updated with new features and functions without the store owner knowing or doing anything. So rather than spending $10,000’s on technology that needs constant maintenance business can put that money to marketing and customer support. SMEs can build and manage their own content without technical developer assistance.
Social Commerce and Social Media have become an important channel but new technology make it easy to start and to manage. Sites like Facebook and Twitter, have had a dramatic effect on how consumers researching and buying online. Online retailers can get great competitive advantage by embracing the social media channel and by creating and managing blogs, forums and customer-focused newsletter content.
80% of all online sales start with a product search enquiry so you need multi-channel capabilities from the one online store. We now automatically provide feeds to price comparison engines like www.getprice.com.au and we can send products to eBay, Facebook and other marketing channels from the one administration platform.
Many consumers and merchants saw the potential for fraud online as a reason not to go online. But now there is much more protection for both consumers and merchants. Payment providers like eWay and PayPal offer extensive anti-fraud protection. Consumers have become more aware of risks and look for the tell tale signs like an SSL Certificate (lock icon), contact details, terms and conditions and refund and privacy policies. Buying online has becoming safer than walking to the shops.
Getting the right design was once the realm of only large companies that invested in graphic and web design companies. But new technology has opened up capabilities for online merchants to create and manage their own store design and to look very professional.
At the end of the day however the technology is the enabler. An online business is like any other business and needs a plan to be successful. It is supported by four key foundation pillars:
- User experience, interaction and design
- Trust and security
- Marketing, social media and sales
- Customer service and support
Technology just enables it all to happen with a minimum of fuss. For a retailer or business today selling online can be very simple and allow them to compete on the World Wide Web.