Shop until you drop

Bricks-and-mortar or cyber shopfront - there's no denying buying habits around the world have changed with the rise of online shopping.

When a day at the mall poses the potential for large crowds, long queues, less variety, preoccupied shop assistants and closing times that clash with your schedule, it’s easy to see why the online shopping experience has captured so many.

The phenomenon has not however sounded the death knell for physical stores which continue to lure millions through the ability to touch, taste and try before you buy.

The rise of online shopping

Having the ability to buy from retailers around the world or even around the corner without leaving the comfort of your own home has opened people up to a world of choices.

Research shows 68 per cent of Australians shop online at least once a month1, with online shopping expenditure predicted to be worth $26.9 billion nationally by 2016 - up from $13.6 billion in 2011.2

What’s driving growth?

  • A more tech savvy population comfortable with buying online
  • Existing e-tailers expanding operations, with more entering the online space
  • Greater mobile phone usage
  • Social media pushing greater brand awareness
  • Better value and more variety.2

Spoilt for choice

The most popular types of online purchases involve travel, accommodation, memberships or tickets of any kind, according to reports from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.3

Grocery stores, insurers, fashion retailers, music artists, film studios and the like are getting in on the action making it possible for people to buy 24 hours a day.

Online shopping has also given birth to companies that have never had a shop window, like Red Balloon offering everything from cheese tours to helicopter rides and Etsy - an online marketplace for pretty much anything.

Retail or e-tail

The effect on physical retailers has not gone unnoticed with their agile counterparts boasting no rental expenses and the ability to generate rich customer data through analytics.

While it has hit some harder than others – the closure of a number of Blockbuster outlets as just one example – others have moved to blend their offerings to make the most of both worlds.

Dollars and sense

For a while Australians were getting a pretty good deal when it came to buying from overseas exporters but the falling Australian dollar has seen some higher international price tags – something domestic retailers could take advantage of.

The government also said recently that from 1 July 2017 the GST – also known as our goods and services tax – would apply to almost all overseas online purchases whereas previously internet shoppers enjoyed tax exempt status for purchases under $1000.

Dollar movements, GST or no GST – online cost savings can be found with the right research.

Cyber security

Statistics show only 60 per cent of us shop on secure websites with identity theft a growing issue.

Taking simple steps like updating anti-virus software, changing passwords, and not revealing too many personal details online can go a long way.

In the meantime, while purchasing items online can be convenient, it's important to remember if a deal looks too good to be true, sometimes it might be.

1 PWC - Global shoppers at a glance

2 Australian online shopping market and digital insights

3 Australian Bureau of Statistics media release (25/02/14) Three out of four internet users shop online. 


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