Global Ecommerce: Australia


In the context of global ecommerce, Australia is a near-perfect example of success. Both its location and regional economic agreements have emphasized the importance of the country in the extremely competitive APAC. For the past 22 years, Australia’s economy has benefited from uninterrupted growth. The country has never been in better shape, with rich natural resources paving the way to innovation and sustained growth. These large reserves of natural resources have created ties with non-energy independent neighboring countries who have enough wealth to acquire them. This bilateral trading agreement has massively benefited Australia, which has become a large APAC player. Australia has also strong ties to the UK due to its participation in the Commonwealth and more recently thanks to AUKMIN annual dialogues and bilateral agreements for closer alignment.

Key Trends

  • Connected society. Australia ranks 7th in the world in terms of Internet penetration with an astonishing 89.8%, representing more than 19 million potential online customers.1 It also ranks in the top 5 markets for PC penetration worldwide.
  • Importance of localizing. 47% of Australians agree that they trust domestic online stores more than international ones. Interestingly, 22% of Australians say that they would buy online from a store that has a physical presence in the country.
  • Exponential growth. Online sales in Australia reached a record $33 billion in 2012. This record was again eclipsed by over 20% 2013, with sales reaching an astonishing $37.1 billion, emphasizing the shift in customer’s habits for online trade. Additionally, the average online Australian basket has more than doubled over the past six years, rising from $1,048 in 2006 to $2,108 in 2012.2
  • Slow business online penetration. Even though Australia shows exceptional sales figures compared to the number of online users, businesses are slowly converging to this sales channel. 53% of Australian retailers have no online sales channel. But 20% of Australian retailers have had an online presence for more than three years emphasizing the impact of online channels for Australian retailers, which represents 5% of total retail sales.

Opportunities and Challenges

  • Delivery. More than 45% of online basket dropouts are due to shipping, perceived as too high (costs) or unpractical for customers. An important decision factor for Australian shoppers online lies in the ownership of the website. Some 18.4% of online shoppers admit to preferring domestic online shopping driven by circumstances when they want immediate delivery.
  • International retailers. Goods and services tax is not payable if the value of the good is less than $1,000 AUD when Australian purchase goods from overseas merchants. These loopholes in Australian legislation coupled with a high dollar are major two incentives for Australian online shoppers to consider shopping internationally. For example, Australia represents ASOS’s number one international market outside of the UK.
  • Payment methods. Although 97% of Australian Internet users have searched the web, found deals and checked out successfully from online retail websites, a vast majority of those, 97%, feel they were not given enough possibilities in terms of payment methods. Australian’s are among the world’s biggest user of online banking. Electronic fund transfers are very popular in Australia and the BPay consortium, owned by Australia’s top four banks, generates 26 million bills per month for a value of $19 billion.
  • Payment providers. PayPal represents 29% of online transactions in Australia, ahead of Visa at 25% and MasterCard at 14%.
  • Marketing. Online advertising is drastically changing thanks to the Internet and global ecommerce. The Australian advertising sector is focused on the multi-screen developments, with product now advertised with a cross channel approach. In addition to new medias and channels (TV, laptops, tablets and mobile), marketers also focus their efforts of over the top content distributed by smart TVs.
  • Categories. With 26.1% and $6.08 billion of sales coming from the travel category, it is an understatement to say that there was a rebirth of this industry thanks to ecommerce. This statement is also true for the event and ticket industry that represents 16.9% and $4.12 billion of online sales in Australia. These two categories are followed closely by electrical and clothing, respectively at 15.3% and 9.4%.3

Mobile Australia

PayPal mobile is on a steep trajectory of growth, 430% year on year. 62% of Australian customers intend to maintain, grow or start using mobile commerce in the next 12 month. This trend is only at its inception and further increases in smartphone penetration will boost this already exponential growth. The mobile online market in Australia has grown from $146.8 million in 2011 to $5.77 billion in 2013. During the same time frame, mobile penetration has soured from 30% to 54% and will reach an astonishing 70% by 2017.4With such impressive mobile sales figures, Australia is far ahead in terms of mobile global ecommerce than its competition, countries such as US and UK.

Mobile payments show a rise of 430% year on year. No less than 65% of the total handset market in Australia is Internet enabled. Smartphones are disrupting both the traditional and the online retail environment.

The Australian Crystal Ball

Most active online shoppers in Australia are aged 35 to 44, as 73% of them have already shopped online. When focusing on these targeted demographics it is easy to say that the trend will keep on growing since people age 25 to 34 were 69% and 18 to 24 were only 61%. This last figure could be alarming in the sense that is seems low but in reality knowing this groups purchasing power and the Australian propensity for cash, the trend is only at its inception but starting at a high point.5 Additionally, these age categories will spend more online thanks to the growth of their purchasing power mainly because they will climb the social ladder.

Surprisingly only just over half of Australia’s 77,000 retail businesses have a website. On top of that alarming statistic, 53% of retailers do not have online transaction capabilities, giving massive opportunities away to overseas online shops that target the Australian market.6

With an Australian domain name and some investment in technology enabling a more user-friendly shopping experience, the sky is the limit for online retailers.


  1. Ecommerce Market Booms Down Under, Mar 2014, Evigo.
  2. Top 50 Internet Penetration, 2012, Internet World Stats.
  3. B2C Ecommerce Sales in Australia, Jan 2013, eMarketer.
  4. Australias B2C Ecommerce Market, Aug 2013, eMarketer.
  5. Ecommerce Statistics Australia, 2008, Graphs.
  6. Australia: Ecommerce Trends Briefing, Feb 2013.

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