Whether you are a small online retailer or just thinking about launching an online store in Australia, if you operate in the retail space, you need to make it your business to know everything you possibly can about your competition and your potential customers.
According to business.gov.au, to run a successful business you need to know all about your potential and existing customers and the marketplace you operate in. You need to regularly assess who your competitors are, their strengths and weaknesses, who your customers are and what they want, and whether there are any gaps in the market.
Australians are spending $14.3 billion a year¹ online and while most of us say we prefer to buy locally, half of the top online retailers in Australia are owned by foreign companies.
Top 10 Shopping Websites
1. eBay Australia
2. Gumtree AU
3. Groupon Australia
4. Apple (Australia)
8. JB Hi-Fi Australia
9. Apple Store
10. Trading Post Online
The good news is that three-quarters of the most popular items Australians are buying online, are being purchased from small to medium sized domestic retailers.
Top 5 Items Australians are Buying Online
2. Entertainment & Leisure
3. Consumer Electronics
5. Food & Beverages
More than 70% of parcels delivered by Australia Post have originated from a domestic online transaction.
When Australians are Buying
According to research provided to us by Australia Post, online shopping peaks on Thursdays and Fridays of each week, while in-store purchases peak on Saturdays.
What Influences the Choice of Retailer
Australians prefer to buy from local online retailers, with 59% stating that faster delivery influenced their decision to buy from a domestic retailer. Brand power is still a factor, with 46% preferring to deal with a familiar brand. Savvy consumers also look for ‘hassle free returns’ when choosing where to buy online.
The Future of Online Shopping is Mobile
With 75% of the population owning a smartphone, Australians have taken to shopping on mobile devices like ducks to water². So if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to invest in a mobile website for your online store.
Where Do Online Shoppers Live
The eastern states dominate the online retail space, with consumers in Queensland and New South Wales receiving more parcels than consumers in other states. Australia Post says the top 10 parcel delivery suburbs in Australia by volume are:
1. Bundoora, VIC
2. Toowoomba, QLD
3. Mackay, QLD
4. Cairns, QLD
5. Gladstone, QLD
6. Alexandria, NSW
7. Gosford, NSW
8. Bundaberg, QLD
9. Landsdale, WA
10. Crows Ness, NSW
Online Shoppers Want Security
For obvious reasons, online security is still very important to consumers. All legitimate retailers use a secure payment system to encrypt their customer’s financial details. Online shoppers are better informed than they use to be and they will look for signs that an online store is secure, such as a url that begins with “https://” and a padlock symbol in the task bar of their web browser.
It is also recommended that online retailers offer payment options which don’t require the seller to collect their customer’s financial details. Consider offering your customers in Australia the option of paying by PostPay, PayPal, Pre-Paid Visa, and Pre-Paid Mastercard.
Research Your Market & Keep Up-To-Date
Market research is a valuable tool for all businesses. Statistics and other market research data help you make informed decisions about the marketing of your business. Using market research, you can understand your potential customers and their needs, as well as what your competitors are doing.
According to business.gov.au collecting firsthand information (primary research) through surveys, interviews, and talking to your customers can help you discover what your customers’ needs are, how your business can improve, what you excel at and what practices other businesses are using.
You can also research your market by using information that has already been gathered, such as government statistics and trade publications (secondary research). A prime point of contact for your secondary research is the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Visit the ABS Small business page for information on what services they provide for small business.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has developed over 100 industry small business benchmarks that you can use to compare your business’ performance against similar businesses.
Another good source of market research is your state or territory government. Find out more at business.gov.au’s Market research in your state or territory page.
1. NAB Online Retail Sales Index, Sept. 2013
2. Ipsos, 2013