A changed post-pandemic landscape of Australian retail has seen a positive industry outlook for eCommerce growth in the country amidst the continued decline of brick-and-mortar stores.
During the lockdown, the Deloitte Digital Consumer Trends report found that the online purchase of non-grocery items increased to 24% of respondents in 2020 - 55%, indicating that the shift is permanent.13 According to Australia Post, online shopping is up 31% in April to 5.2 million against the year-on-year average.4
With more Australians shopping online than ever before, new and emerging retail businesses searching for sales growth and expansion opportunities into the Australian market are gaining a strong eCommerce presence that’s imperative for advertisers to tap into.
Even before the pandemic the reality of the challenging market conditions of the brick-and-mortar retail industry has seen iconic Australian brands disappear from shopping centres and enter into voluntary administration- largely due to the growth of eCommerce. Australian shoppers had been moving to online shopping prior with the eCommerce and online shopping industry growing 17.5%, on average from 2015 to 2020.19
Once the pandemic hit , brick and mortar retail stores were unable to generate the same volume of sales during times of global uncertainty. The growth of online shopping in Australia has allowed the retail industry to survive. In times where the market outlook and consumer confidence seemed bleak, they were able to flourish.
With businesses now increasingly aware of how and where consumers buy, brands and advertisers must adapt to Australian consumers’ changing habits, as the world moves towards a "new normal".
We look at the current online shopping trends in Australia so brands, and advertisers can leverage this for maximum ad spend ROI.
Online Shopping Key Trends in Australia
The Evolving, Post-Pandemic Australian eCommerce Experience
Australian online shopping increased by 57% year on year in 20204, the last full year of available data . New markets are emerging, and existing markets also have the potential for further development.
As a result, global growth in the eCommerce industry will continue over the next few years. This will be driven by East and Southeast Asia, with their expanding online sales market.
Key eCommerce Statistics
The online shopping industry has grown dramatically over the past five years due to changing consumer attitudes, where advertisers have benefited from customers seeking variety and value in their purchases.
McKinsey's research shows that more than 50% of Australian customers have discovered new online shopping behaviours.17
More than 30% have tried new brands, and more than 20% have tried new retailers, stores, and online shopping websites since the start of 2020.4
The growth of online retailing was driven by remote workers and consumers who infrequently or never shopped online before their access to bricks-and-mortar retail was limited by lockdowns.3
Nearly half of small businesses in Australia have pivoted their approach to business in response to the pandemic, with a distinct shift towards online to maintain market share.5
User penetration will be 74.7% in 2022 and is expected to hit 77.2% by 2025.6
Implications for Retailers and Advertisers
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly boosted revenue growth, market share, and sales for online retailers. The transition to online shopping has underpinned many of these developments – be it the change to remote work or the purchasing of online grocery and consumer goods. In the case of smaller advertisers and businesses, the inevitable response has been shifted to eCommerce and a greater emphasis on building an online presence.
Even with retail sales rising by 9% year-on-year from July to December 2020, more time spent at home due to the pandemic has accelerated the decline of bricks and mortar stores and the growth of eCommerce stores.
Growth in online shopping has significantly outpaced that of traditional retailers with internet and broadband penetration. Consumer acceptance of electronic commerce as a viable and safe alternative to conventional physical retailers has aided online shopping.
Industry operators have benefited from consumers seeking variety and value, particularly in a period of declining discretionary incomes over the past five years.
Internet shopping provides an unparalleled alternative in terms of highly competitive pricing and a lack of regional boundaries. As a result, industry revenue rose to $34.5 billion at an annualised 13.6% over the five years up to 2020-21.8
Profitability and Barriers to Entry
The eCommerce industry’s profitability has decreased over the last five years due to the intense rivalry between industry operators and foreign online retailers. Start-up and maintenance costs for major websites and high competition in the industry, have kept profit margins low.
However, the cost of creating a website may be relatively low for smaller enterprises. As a result, the industry has had a substantial influx of new entrants over the last five years. Major global online players have also joined the marketplace. These include Amazon, which launched its Australian operations in December 2017.
Digital Marketing Remains Consistent
By 2020, Australia had already been struggling with a downturn in consumer spending, and online shopping had emerged as the only shining light in the retail industry.
With Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) sales being a primarily online affair in Australia compared to its American counterpart, digital marketing in addition to major sale events throughout the year will allow retailers to capitalise on consumer interest.
The pandemic has led to an average 6% jump in online marketing expenditure, with most sectors increasing emphasis on their digital presence.
The food & beverage industry is an example of this. More than 60% of small food and beverage companies now spend more than 80% of their marketing budget online, compared to less than half before the pandemic.
Changing Shopping Habits
The “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) Revolution
Buy now, pay later(BNPL) arrangements to enable customers to purchase and obtain goods and services immediately from a retailer, and repay the amount owed over set instalments (many without interest charges or account keeping fees).
Digital wallets have grown over the years, but it has rapidly accelerated amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent Global Payments Report, digital wallet-based transactions grew globally by 7% in 2020, accounting for 44.5% of the global e-commerce market.10
With the unprecedented year-on-year growth rate of Buy now, pay later and its widespread adoption within the eCommerce market and throughout the retail sector, companies such as AfterPay, ZipPay, Klarna, Sezzle, Openpay, Brighte, Humm, Splitit, Laybuy and more provide a digitised version of the "lay-by" concept of old, through a simple, yet intuitive user experience.
Marketed as a budgeting tool, a November 2020 ASIC report on the BNPL industry noted more than 6.1 million open accounts, representing up to 30% of the Australian adult population. As of 30 June 2019, there were around 56,000 merchant agreements between advertisers and buy now pay later providers.11
The retail payments market continues to change with an increase in innovation, competition and technological advances allowing eCommerce stores to entice purchasers and drive sales through flexible payment facilities.
eCommerce - Not Just for Millennials and Gen Z
As eCommerce transactions rose at the start of 2020, on-trend towards $4.2 trillion, companies like PayPal felt the positive effects with their biggest month in history in April 2020.2
Registrations to their payment platform tripled and were mostly from people 50 or older. Additional data also highlights that credit card use was the highest for people with an increase from 15.4% in January 2020 to 21.9% in March 2020.2
Convenience and accessibility have always been two of the main drivers for eCommerce adoption in Australia . Many consumers from this new demographic will likely continue purchasing more of their products online in the future.
Advertisers will need to formulate and customise new marketing campaigns for this older audience’s continued loyalty. They will need to consider programs such as loyalty schemes, subscription models and personalised messaging.
Sustainable and ethical shopping is at the forefront of Australian shoppers' minds with a positive trend towards conscious consumerism. Australian consumers are more likely to buy goods that are ethically and sustainably sourced.
People want marketers, retailers, and brands to be more transparent about their products’ sources and sustainability and engage in ethical practices.
Click and Collect
Express delivery services have become the norm for many Australians who do most of their shopping online. Click and collect has arisen in every industry, including fashion, groceries, and liquor, with more customers wanting their purchases right away.
In a world where people purchase products online in an effort to avoid large crowds but want to receive their goods as soon as possible, Click and Collect is an excellent option for the eCommerce industry . It’s an alternative to express shipping and can often provide the customer base with options based on personal preference.
Australians spend on average of two hours a day on social media.3 Advertisers and eCommerce retailers in Australia have realised the importance of connecting with their customers through these social channels and have placed considerable focus on increasing their digital presence over the last decade.
Advertisers leverage these platforms’ widespread reach to advertise their best-selling products through paid ads, sponsored posts, and influencer marketing to complete the multi-channel experience for shoppers.
This holistic approach to digital marketing enables advertisers to keep new and recurring customers interested in product releases and promotions and keeps their brand top-of-mind while browsing online.1
A report from Instagram showed that 90% of users follow at least one business account, with 83% of Australians stating they have discovered a new product while using the social media platform.14
In 2020 alone, the social shopping strategy rapidly increased in popularity with partnerships between Shopify and TikTok, Snapchat expanding their Native Stores for brand offerings, and Facebook launching Shops for Facebook and Instagram.
Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, social commerce will become an even more integral part of the eCommerce experience for advertisers and shoppers in Australia.
How Fast is eCommerce Growing in Australia?
Revenue in the eCommerce market is projected to reach AU$55.8 billion in 2022.6
- The eCommerce market's largest segment is Fashion, with revenue projected to grow to AU$14.3 billion in 2022.12
- User penetration is projected to reach 74.7% of the Australian population in 2022 and this is expected to expand to 77.2% by 2025.6
- The average revenue per user (ARPU) is expected to amount to AU$2,868.33 this year.6
Online shopping provides unparalleled access to competitive pricing and geographical locations. These advantages have seen 40% of consumers worldwide report that they are more comfortable with digital technology than before the pandemic.16
Outlook On eCommerce Growth - What’s Next?
The global eCommerce retail market was given an unprecedented boost by the global pandemic and is set to enjoy robust growth over the next five years.
While online sales accounted for 18% of global retail sales in 2020, that share is projected to climb to 21.8% in 2024.1
Increasing rates of global internet penetration, the emergence of new online stores and the projected growth of global discretionary income will contribute to this uptick inactivity.
Australia itself has benefitted from the rollout of the NBN in recent years, which has seen faster broadband speeds offered to a larger percentage of the population. Rising internet penetration, increased transaction security and the steady introduction of 5G should also increase the percentage of potential online shoppers in Australia.
Moreover, Australian regulators’ scrutiny of NBN performance should eventually lead to improved performance across the board.21 Improved internet connectivity, coupled with new technology and software programs, should enable advertisers to build more functional, sophisticated and interactive websites.
These improvements are anticipated to increase the average spend per customer.
While eCommerce retail is set to go from strength to strength in the coming years, traditional brick-and-mortar stores also continue to enjoy consumer support. Research from May 2021 has shown that in-store retail not only remains the dominant channel but that consumers are eager to shop in physical locations after two years of social distancing measures.22
The continued rise of eCommerce in this fast-paced, interconnected world has driven ongoing revenue growth. eCommerce retailers who have adapted quickly and with conviction to the growing demand for information and social validation by the modern consumer, have seen increased profit margins.
Looking forward to 2022 and beyond, it is vital for all advertisers and businesses–both physical and online– to keep track of Australian online shopping statistics.
Advertisers should pay specific attention to industry trends, eCommerce growth, and consumer confidence within their industry to unlock insights and opportunities to increase market share and revenue growth.
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- Worldwide e-commerce share of retail sales 2015-2024 - Statista
- PayPal Thrives on New Account Growth
- Digital in Australia: Time Spent has Increased by 10% Year-on-Year
- Inside Australian Online Shopping
- UK Online Shopping & eCommerce Statistics
- eCommerce Australia – Statista Market Forecast (US$)
- Powerful eCommerce Statistics to Guide Your Strategy in 2021
- U.S ecommerce grows 32,4% in 2020
- How Instagram Boosts Brands and Drives Sales
- Global Payments Report: Digital Wallets and BNPL drive eCommerce Payments
- Buy Now Pay Later: An Industry Update - ASIC
- eCommerce Australia, Fashion– Statista Market Forecast (A$)
- Lasting lockdown habits new digital customer
- Global Retail Trends 2021
- Thank You and Happy Birthday Instagram
- Online eCommerce: The Future of Australian Small Business
- Getting Acquainted with a more mindful Australian Consumer
- Structural Outlook for Commercial Property Slows
- 2020 eCommerce industry report
- Online Shopping in Australia
- ACCC: NBN download speeds steady but upload speeds not hitting maximum
- Retail market worldwide - Statista