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In an increasingly mobile world one new study says it’s time for Aussies to ‘get with it’

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Australian, according to experts, is ready to be a world leader in mobile commerce going forward, as long as Aussie business owners are proactive in planning and implementing a few timely changes.

ChannelAdvisor, a provider of cloud-based e-commerce solutions that enable retailers and manufacturers to increase global sales, has announced the results of its 2014 Snapshot of Australian eCommerce study. This joint study with the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) canvassed more than 400 Australian retailers, revealing that free shipping and mobile commerce are leading concerns for businesses at present.

“Australia has all the key ingredients required to achieve eCommerce success and be a leader in the market,” said Mark Gray, APAC managing director at ChannelAdvisor.

“We (Australians) have ready access to the internet and a robust regulatory framework for commerce. Australian consumers have also long been embracing online retail and purchasing goods via electronic payments. These shoppers are increasingly turning to mobile to research and purchase goods.”

Pertinent details

Some of the most interesting survey results from Australian retailers earning $1 million or more online include:

  • Marketplaces eating the eCommerce world: 50-per cent of surveyed retailers are selling on one or more third-party marketplace, with most selling on eBay (41-per cent). When asked to select their greatest challenge with selling on marketplaces, retailers named maintaining competitive price, followed by meeting marketplaces’ requirements.
  • Borders breaking down: Over 33-per cent of respondents currently sell on international sites, with nearly a quarter of these respondents earning more than 20 percent of their revenue from international sales. Retailers also see future opportunity in global marketplaces: eBay (60 percent), Amazon (39 percent), Rakuten.com Shopping, Tmall, Trade Me (6 percent each). Global marketplaces, with their built-in audiences and, for some, fulfillment programs, can provide a way for retailers to venture online with a lesser investment.
  • Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and paid search drive digital marketing: 70-per cent of these respondents invest in digital marketing, which includes many forms of online advertising as well as social media. Retailers reported that Google Shopping, driven by PLAs, was their best-performing digital marketing channel, followed by paid search. However, retailers did not limit themselves to these two channels. They also leveraged comparison shopping engines, retargeting, social media promotions and display advertising.
  • Free shipping is no longer an option; it’s an essential sales tool: Almost two-thirds (65-per cent) of Australian retailers have offered free shipping in the past 12 months. It was cited as the most successful online customer-service feature in achieving a higher level of customer satisfaction. Other top-rated customer service features include no-hassle returns and two-day or faster shipping.
  • Mobile is driving traffic, but mobile advertising needs to catch up: Nearly half the survey respondents reported 20-per cent or more traffic coming from mobile, which is one in five web store visitors. Yet when asked what portion of their online advertising budget is allocated to mobile, half admitted that it was less than 5 percent. There is a significant opportunity here for retailers to take advantage of mobile-centric retail strategies.
  • Social media for brand and audience building: Seventy-seven per cent of Australian retailers see social media as a way to increase brand awareness, and nearly 5- per cent see it as a gateway to a new generation of customers. Ninety-three per cent of respondents listed Facebook as the social media platform that drives the most conversions. While at present only a third of retailers (36-per cent) view social media as a way to drive conversions, new developments with Twitter and Facebook’s “Buy Buttons” could change that in the future.

Know your business

Adding to the discourse around the recent study, Russell Zimmerman, ARA Executive Director, encouraged Australian retailers to invest time working on the business, not just in the business.

“Retailers have many day-to-day demands such as juggling customer needs, shipping challenges and fast-moving, fickle consumer trends. Despite these demands, it’s imperative that retailers spend time planning.”

“The survey shows a need for greater planning and measurement, as retailers often answered ‘I don’t know’ when asked questions about where their sales or webstore traffic originated, or how much they were spending on advertising. eCommerce is, and will continue to be, a core part of retail, and retailers must continually learn how to operate efficiently and effectively in this new world.”

A lesson for small businesses?

Let’s not forget that, although this study largely applies to big retailers, the same technologies are presenting themselves to small businesses across Australia, too. Tools like Apple Pay can work in one-off brick-and-mortars just as well as the big stores. How do you see your Australian small business prepping itself for the coming mobile revolution? Will you be beefing your eCommerce presence and adding local listing pages to online directories? Will you open a store page in one of the popular eCommerce marketplaces?

Perhaps you should be planning ahead, right now.

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