The Future of E-Commerce is International Sales, Research Shows

In a new insights paper, Rebecca Burrows, the general manager of segment development and marketing for business and government at Australia Post identified what she refers to as “endlessly exciting possibilities” for online retailers.

Australia Post’s latest study has revealed that 60 percent of retailers selling online are yet to sell their products to international customers. This means that e-commerce businesses are missing out on the opportunities that come with opening up an entirely new network of customers.

Take, for instance, the likes of Alibaba, Amazon, and JD.com – all of these international businesses have recently set-up shop in Australia because of the average Australian consumer’s willingness to spend, this is no different to the consumers overseas who are also willing to shop online.

According to Burrows, the growing middle-class populations that are embracing online shopping in much of Asia offer a strong starting point for Australian retailers looking to take their e-commerce offerings to the next level.

australia post panel
The panelists at Australia Post’s research paper launch on Monday.

“China continues to open up to trade and is rapidly increasing its level of imports. Indonesia, one of the 10 fast-growing ASEAN countries, is right on our doorstep and will soon be the fourth biggest economy in the world. By 2030, four of the five biggest economies in the world will be in our region in Asia,” Burrows says. “In China especially, these consumers are highly receptive to Australian goods – so it is worthwhile for Australia’s small businesses to seek a slice of this international pie.”

Sonya Michele, the founder, and director of handmade fashion retailer, dog&boy, has proven that overseas expansion, while daunting, can pay off substantially in the long-term.

“Moving into our first overseas market was challenging, as it presented questions about our business processes, as well as how we could identify and research markets, and find partners that would help us with the actual execution,” Michele says.

According to Australia Post’s research, one of the biggest reasons online retailers are yet to enter a global marketplace is fear and not understanding how the process actually works.

“Entering any market is complex, and international ones are certainly not the same as domestic markets, so a one-size fits all approach would be a big mistake for businesses,” Michele says.

Originally launched in January 2016, Michele’s vision for dog&boy was very clear from the beginning – building a strong Australian brand with an international fan-base.

“Our systems weren’t where they should be, and even though business to consumer was easy, wholesale is challenging,” she says.

After eight months of cold calling, reaching out to customers, stockists, and wholesales through social media, Michele received her first international order from Singapore.

“I learned very early on that what sells at home won’t necessarily sell overseas,” she says. “So I make sure I know my international markets really well. China is vastly different to any other market in the world – and I had to learn how they shop and how to truly stand-out there.”

Dog&boy isn’t the only Australian brand to find success selling overseas, with big names like House taking steps to become a global brand, as well as other fashion brands like Homebodii who recently partnered with international retailer, Nordstrom to expand its global customer-base.

According to Australia Post’s research, a new deal with the likes of Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace and Lazada makes reaching hundreds of millions of potential customers easier than it’s ever been before.

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