Tuesday, December 11th, 2007 - eCorner

Australian online retailers are expecting strong growth in sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas as busy consumers take advantage of the opportunity to shop from home and avoid crowded shopping centres.
According to online research firm, Hitwise, shopping sites accounted for 6.34 per cent of web traffic in the second last week of November, with eBay, Amazon, Trading Post and Emailcash Australia heading the charts. They were followed closely by dealsdirect.com.au and oo.com.au, highlighting the rise in popularity of online retailers.
Comparison Shopping on the Rise
According to John Debrincat of leading Australian ecommerce provider, eCorner, consumers now expect to be able to search, compare and buy online. He says the traditional model of retail sales has changed and will be driven more and more by the Internet.
"We are seeing quarterly growth of nearly 50 per cent in the number of online stores being established, with most large corporations planning their internet strategies at senior executive levels. With companies like News Corporation reporting online revenues of more than $1.2 billion, it's clear that organisations without skin in the game will be left behind by their competitors."
Mr Debrincat said small businesses are also capitalising on the trend to online sales, either by establishing their own online stores or increasingly by partnering with online shopping malls and comparison sites, which allow consumers to weigh up prices and features before making their purchasing decision.
"The push to online sales in Australia and New Zealand has seen the arrival of new businesses like Getprice and Shopping.com in the comparison shopping area. Online marketplaces like Ferrit.co.nz are also providing a new shopping experience in the retail market," he said.
According to Chris Hitchen, CEO of Getprice, the trend towards online malls was inevitable, but the most successful will be those that provide the most added value.
"Getprice's focus on comparison shopping rather than price comparison reflects the fact that it's not always the cheapest price that sells a product," he explained. "While we recognise that price is a leading criterion for many consumers, other factors such as trust, reputation, a local manufacturer's warranty and add-on services are also important in winning custom from savvy consumers. We try to reflect this by giving merchants the opportunity to compete on their strong points and we focus on creating a trusted shopping environment."
ecommerce Enjoys Strong Global Growth
It's an approach that's clearly working. ecommerce is enjoying a global rise, with European sales tipped to grow by 25 per cent per annum over the next five years on 2006 revenues of $133 billion, while spending in the US is expected to exceed US$200 billion in 2007 with quarterly growth of almost 25 percent. The trend in Australia and New Zealand has been similar, but off a smaller revenue base with ecommerce sales exceeding A$45 billion in 2006. Of this, only about NZ$1.5 billion was transacted online in New Zealand, which has tended to lag the larger markets when it comes to ecommerce sales.

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Christmas rings in trading boom for retailers


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