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Australia's B2C Ecommerce Market Becomes More Competitive

Mobile will play a major role

More than three-quarters of Australia’s internet users will buy items via online and mobile channels this year, according to a new eMarketer report, “Australia B2C Ecommerce: Multichannel Shoppers Drive Retail Trends.” Not only has digital purchasing become a mainstream activity, but those buyers are acquiring products digitally more frequently as well. And purchase amounts in Australia are larger than in other markets.

Given its widespread adoption in Australia, ecommerce sales growth is moderating, with mid-single-digit increases forecast through 2017. eMarketer estimates that business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce sales in Australia will increase at a 6.07% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2011 and 2017, reaching $32.56 billion by the end of our forecast period.

Like other mature ecommerce markets, digital sales in Australia are spread across many categories, with travel, entertainment, apparel and other items among the most common purchases.

According to Roy Morgan Research figures for the year ending March 2013, travel was the leading category for ecommerce purchases in Australia, accounting for approximately one-quarter of all ecommerce sales. This is in line with projections from eMarketer and Forrester Research, which also estimate that travel will make up about 25% of all B2C ecommerce sales in 2013 and lose share going forward as other categories become more popular for digital buying.

As in the US, mobile usage will play a key role in the evolution of both offline and digital commerce in Australia. The number of smartphone users will nearly double between 2011 and 2013, with penetration increasing from 30.5% of the population to 54.0% during that timeframe. By 2017, nearly 70% of people in Australia will be using smartphones.

As a result of this rapid increase in smartphone usage, mcommerce sales skyrocketed from AU$160 million (nearly $146.8 million) in 2010 to AU$5.60 billion (more than $5.77 billion) in 2012, according to Nielsen and PayPal.

In context with eMarketer’s estimate for Australian retail ecommerce in 2012, this figure would account for approximately 30% of all digital sales. That is far above the percentage of ecommerce sales made on mobile devices in either the UK or the US.

The evolution of multichannel retailing will also have a distinct influence on Australian ecommerce. Many retailers are working to leverage mobile devices to cater to consumers who shop via digital channels but prefer to make purchases in person.

Additionally, Australia’s geographical location typically had kept its local brick-and-mortar retailers well protected from international competition, with the ecommerce market dominated by online-only startups. More recently, the market has become much more competitive, with international stalwarts like Amazon.com, eBay and UK-based fashion retailer ASOS establishing a strong presence.

“Local retailers have been forced to act quickly to improve their own ecommerce standards to stave off the international competition, and what was an average online experience a few years ago is now a very good experience,” said Grant Arnott, publisher of Power Retail, an online retail industry trade publication.


The full report, “Australia B2C Ecommerce: Multichannel Shoppers Drive Retail Trends,” also answers these key questions:

  • How frequently do consumers in Australia buy products online?
  • What are the most popular ecommerce product categories, and which are growing the fastest?
  • How is mobile altering Australia’s retail landscape?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


Corporate subscribers have access to all eMarketer analyst reports, articles, data and more. Join the over 750 companies already benefiting from eMarketer’s approach. Learn more.


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