Online, mobile, social: Australian retail trends

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Online, mobile, social: Australian retail trends

Australian consumers have been quick to embrace the idea of purchasing products online - online retail sales grew by 12 per cent between 2012 and 2013.

Benefits of online sales for your business

Australian consumers have been quick to embrace the idea of purchasing products online. Online retail sales grew by 12 per cent between 2012 and 2013ii, with some of the most popular purchases being accommodation, memberships, tickets, and travel related goods and servicesiv. During the same time frame, 76 per cent of Australia's 15.4 million Internet users purchased products onlineiii. In 2013, only 30 per cent of Australian businesses received orders online, but the estimated income for those online orders totalled $246 billioniv.

For the 2013 Christmas season, 76 per cent of Australian retailers responding to the Deloitte Christmas Retailers’ Survey expected online sales to increase. However, just over half of respondents expected less than 2 per cent of sales to originate online, and nearly a quarter of respondents expect no online sales at all. This is at the same time as 38 per cent of the survey respondents citing local and overseas retailers online as their greatest source of competitionv.

More than ever before, Australian shoppers are thoroughly researching products before they buy. According to Nielsen, around 60 per cent of Australian shoppers use a combination of online and offline research before they purchase a new product. Online research also relates to offline sales, further highlighting the importance of having your products available for viewing, if not for purchase, onlinevi.

These trends indicate that Australian e-tailers face great growth potential in the future, if they can adapt to a changing marketplace. For example, an analysis of 89 online Australian retail websites has shown that many of these sites are missing fundamental personalisation features, such as personalised recommendations based on previous purchases. These features can help convert leads into sales and first time customers into repeat buyersvii, meaning that Australian e-tailers are missing out on taking advantage of every opportunity to attract new business.

Advancements in banking technology fuel the trend of m-commerce.

Retail trends to watch in 2014

Social commerce

While still in its early stages, the concept of social commerce is becoming more popular, opening up further opportunities for businesses to use user ratings, referrals and advocacy, as well as social advertising on online communities to increase sales.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest - all the popular social media platforms come with different solutions for businesses that want to integrate social media in their purchase funnel. For example, while Facebook offers possibilities such as establishing an online store, advertising, and creating brand pages, Pinterest has recently announced a partnership with e-commerce platform Shopify. Every Pin from a merchant's Shopify store will show information such as pricing and stock availability for that particular productviii. However, the high levels of engagement and interaction on visual-sharing-based platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram can allow any business to tap into a new market space and reach their buyers where they are - even without any partnershipsix.

M-commerce and the mobile wallet

An emerging trend that retailers should be keeping a close eye on is the uptake in m-commerce (mobile commerce) by Australian consumers. Between 2010 and 2013, there was an increase of 448 per cent of Australians doing mobile shoppingx. 65 per cent of Australians own smartphones, and over half of those people use their devices to either purchase or research products onlinexi.

A recent study conducted by Frost and Sullivan indicates that consumers want retailers to keep up with the advances in purchasing technology. The study also suggests that retailers who fail to do so risk losing out on business in the long runxi.

Fuelled by advancements in banking technology that enable mobile paymentsxii, Coles is one of the first Australian companies to adopt mobile wallet payment methods, making it even easier for consumers to pay for purchases using their smartphones. Research commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank shows that 73 per cent of Australians expect that the mobile wallet will replace the need for cash and credit or debit cards by 2021xiii.

iHom, E J 2013, 'What is E-Commerce?', Business News Daily, viewed 29 July 2014,

iiBainbridge, A 2013, 'More than 50 per cent of Australians shopping online: Roy Morgan research', The ABC, viewed 29 July 2014,

iiiAustralian Bureau of Statistics 2014, Three out of four internet users shop online, viewed 7 August 2014,

ivAustralian Bureau of Statistics 2014, Summary of IT use and innovation in Australian Business, 2012-13, "Internet commerce", viewed 30 July 2014,

vDeloitte 2013, Retailers are counting on Christmas, viewed 13 August 2014,

viConomos, K 2014, 'The 'new retail': when online and offline converge', Nielsen, viewed 29 July 2014,

viiRiemer, K 2013, 'Australian retailers online: late to the party and much to do', The Conversation, viewed 7 August 2014,

viiiSmith C 2014, 'A New Partnership Shows Why Pinterest Is So Important For Retailers', 18 July, Business Insider Australia, viewed 12 August 2014,

ixSmith C 2014, 'Pinterest Is The Best Example Of Social Media's Real Role In The 'Purchase Funnel'', May 10, Business Insider Australia,

xHerbison, Michelle 2014, 'Mobile online shopping and banking quadrupled over three years: ACMA', viewed 30 July 2014,

xiHerbison, Michelle 2014, 'Retailers slow to improve technology for mobile shopping - study', viewed 30 July 2014,

xiiBender A 2014, 'Mobile payments in Australia: state of the banks', 29 January, Computer World, viewed 12 August 2014,

xiiiLovett, Liz 2014, 'CommBank reveals mobile wallet tipping point', viewed 30 July 2014,