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AU Retailer Complaint Backfires

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Thursday November 17, 2011 )

The Australian ecommerce scene is going from strength to strength and according to an Aussie online merchant, some of it is due to a couple of local major bricks and mortar retailers complaining about Internet purchasing.

A report released a few days ago from the Australian Communications and Media Authority states in the six months to April 2011, approximately 62 per cent of adult internet users in Australia made an online purchase.

52 per cent of those people purchased online 1–5 times (up from 49 per cent in the six months to November 2009), 25% purchased 6–10 times (20 per cent previously) and 23 percent made an online purchase 11 times or more (31 per cent previously).

The most popular purchases (respectively):

– travel goods, including accommodation
– clothing, shoes and personal items
– event, concert and movie tickets
– books, magazines and newspapers

As mentioned in a post in July, the stronger Aussie dollar is also seeing local buyers shop more on overseas sites. According to the ACMA report, 19 per cent of online shoppers mostly purchased from overseas sites, up from 12 per cent in the six months to November 2009.

As for the Aussie hold-outs not purchasing online at all, the reasons given were lack of trust in the internet (19 per cent), saw no need (18 per cent) or preferring to shop in store (18 per cent). The ACMA’s report summary doesn’t clarify how much of the latter group still researches goods and services online before purchasing in-store.

In a related report on the ABC, a major Australian online merchant believes some of the surge in online spending is also thanks to a few major Australian bricks and mortar retailers complaining about people increasingly making GST-free purchases via the Internet; stating all those retailers did was to alert many more people about the great bargains that can be had online.

I was watching debate surrounding this GST issue unfold and noticed many people commenting that even if GST was whacked on those purchases (which it won’t be as it turns out), shopping online with overseas merchants was still often a better deal.

I remember seeing an interview with one of the complaining retailers years ago who dismissed the web; not seeing it as a threat.

How times change… but even now, you still cannot purchase anything online from that retailer. That chain’s days as a leader may be numbered as the Australian ecommerce scene is still growing.

The ACMA’s full 40-page “E-commerce marketplace in Australia: Online shopping” report can be downloaded here (PDF). It’s a must read for Australian merchants and those overseas wanting a slice of the Aussie action.


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