Australian e-Commerce Powerhouse Vs the World

By Tim Mackinnon | 19 Oct 2016

Australia’s strong trade connections as compared to the rest of the world are setting us up as an e-Commerce powerhouse and are fuelling our optimism and growth potential, according to a new eBay study.

Australia’s online SMBs are optimistic about their future and feel bullish about the year ahead, as they take advantage of technology and global opportunities, according to the results of eBay’s new study, “The Opportunity Economy” launched today.

The research measured optimism levels in the industry and looks at export behaviours and attitudes to emerging technology as well as perceived barriers to growth. As someone who spends most days thinking about the most efficient ways to grow Australian businesses, I found the results were encouraging.

Australia’s online SMBs are notably more optimistic than their commonwealth counterparts, with 64 percent predicting growth in the next 12 months. Research from a similar UK study revealed that less than half of the UK’s online SMBs (49%) are optimistic about their business prospects for the year ahead.

Australia’s strong trade connections however, as compared to the rest of the world, are setting us up as an e-Commerce powerhouse and are fuelling both our optimism and our growth potential. More than 70 percent of Australia’s online SMBs are already finding customers in overseas markets.

This number rises to 88 percent if you isolate the businesses utilising eBay’s global footprint to sell their product. The UK and North America are our two biggest trading partners with other major markets including China, India and Japan.

Interestingly, it is businesses in regional Australia who are over indexing in the exports space. Nearly 20 percent of regional Australian SMBs made 40 percent of their sales last year from overseas customers. This is compared to just 2 percent of metro-based businesses saying the same thing.

Our ‘greyprenuers’ (business owners over 65) are the strongest performing group with regards to expanding their customer base via international markets. Around 65 percent of this group are exporting, and to the most diverse markets, including the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and Africa. This shows that the old rules of retail still apply in the modern industry. A focus on good customer service and building trust is what is required to acquire new customers, particularly those who are new to the internet.

Some people will try to tell you that Australian companies have been slow to evolve to meet the needs of the connected consumer, but the truth is, at eBay we’re seeing businesses embrace change at an incredibly fast pace, and in many cases we’re now more advanced than our global counterparts.

I have seen that first hand as tens of thousands of Australian retailers, including 70 of the top 100, have embraced online marketplaces to reach new mobile and global customers, and made their products available for click and collect.

Technology is helping us to move faster and seize the opportunities that emerge when the traditional barriers to trade like the tyranny of distance are broken down.


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