Online retail sales are accounting for a growing proportion of the Australian retail market, according to new research.

Researchers at Frost & Sullivan have suggested that online shopping will account for nearly 10% of all sales in Australia by 2017, up from 7% today. 2013 online sales in Australia are expected to total A$18.3bn and Frost & Sullivan has forecast a compound annual growth rate of 13.1% over the next five years.

Significantly, the researchers emphasised that an online offering is necessary as part of an omni-channel approach.

"Today's consumers demand and expect omni-channel shopping experiences from retailers, which involves using multiple channels such as online, physical stores, in-store kiosks, social media, product comparison sites, product review sites, general web searches and e-mails," Frost & Sullivan said.

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Online Shopping in Australia to account for nearly 10% of total retail sales by 2017
-- $18.3b forecast for 2013, CAGR of 13.1% forecasted over next 5 years
SYDNEY, July 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The online shopping market in Australia continues to grow strongly and in 2013 is expected to account for 7% of total retail sales. Total online spending is forecast to amount to $18.3 billion in 2013, with the average annual spend online per online shopper in Australia at $1,750. Almost 90% of online shoppers expect to increase or at least maintain their online spending over the next 12 months.
These figures were all revealed in Frost & Sullivan's latest research, Australian and New Zealand Online Shopping Market 2013, which is based on an annual survey of 1,000 online shoppers in Australia. Phil Harpur, Senior Research Manager, Australia & New Zealand ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan said, "We expect continued growth in online sales over the next five years with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13.1%. Online sales as a percentage of total retail sales are predicted to increase from 7.0% in 2013 to 9.8% by 2017."
A greater variety and choice of goods offered from an increasing number of local and international online retailers, particularly in the fashion segment has contributed significantly towards stimulating retail purchases online by consumers in Australia. "Overseas retailers such as ASOS and Macy's have been actively targeting the Australian market over the last couple of years. This has increased the overall level of competition in the local online retail market. Local retail chains have also stepped up their online activity, creating increased awareness amongst consumers and increased media coverage of online shopping," Harpur stated.
"Customers have become more comfortable with the online shopping process, including reduced concerns over security and higher levels of confidence in the delivery process, which helps drive growth in online shopping. The strength of the Australian dollar increases purchasing power of local consumers on overseas sites, and has also been a strong driver of growth. However, the recent fall in the value of the Australian dollar will reduce the attractiveness of shopping on overseas sites," explained Harpur.
Harpur elaborated, "79% of Australians who shop online currently purchase from overseas sites to some extent, and an estimated 45% of Australian online expenditure goes to overseas-based web-sites. However over the past two years the proportion of online shoppers in Australia shopping on local sites only increased from 21% in 2011 to 25% in 2012 and 29% in 2013. Large local retail chains such as Harvey Norman, Myer and David Jones have been improving and expanding their online offerings and this has raised the overall range of goods and services available locally. Increased online presence of these large retailers has also raised awareness for all local online retailers.
Mobile shopping has already seen widespread uptake in Australia. 30% of all Australian internet users aged between 15 and 65 have purchased physical goods online during the last 12 months via a smartphone, whereas 19% have purchased via a tablet. The immediacy of mobile devices, having them available anywhere and anytime, gives online retailers significantly more opportunities to engage shoppers with relevant offers when and where they are making buying decisions, encouraging impulse purchasing. 52% of smartphone users have used their smartphone to find a nearby store and 38% have used it to compare prices before shopping for items.
Within the consumer e-commerce market, developing new channels which include mobile commerce (shopping via a mobile device) and social commerce (shopping via a social media site) are growing fast, albeit still relatively small compared to the main fixed line internet channel. Social commerce is now estimated at over $300 million in Australia.
Today's consumers demand and expect omni-channel shopping experiences from retailers, which involves using multiple channels such as online, physical stores, in-store kiosks, social media, product comparison sites, product review sites, general web searches and e-mails. Harpur said, "As the concept of omni-channel retailing grows, online retailing will be regarded as an integral part of the overall shopping experience. By collecting and analysing online data, online retailers can make the online shopping experience personal, strengthening relationships with the customer by delivering customer preferences in real time, which can increase repeat sales. This approach is best manifested by online retailer Amazon."
Harpur finished by saying, "As traditional retailers have the ability to implement true omni-channel strategies, this allows them major competitive advantage over players with an online strategy only. For example, they can make the process of shopping online and picking-up in store work effectively by integrating in-store stock and sales systems to their digital platform or by providing in-store kiosks where consumers can order or purchase online in-store and have purchases delivered to their home at a later date."
Frost & Sullivan's Australian and New Zealand Online Shopping Market 2013 report forms part of the Frost & Sullivan Australian Digital Media program

Original source: Frost & Sullivan