Today we look at the area of online shopping and ask how this could fit in to an Internet marketing plan for a small Australian business.
By all accounts, Australia lags several years behind the US and the UK in percentage numbers of businesses that have shopping functionality on their sites.
However, the lack of Australian businesses involved shouldn’t be confused with the general strength of online shopping in the country. The fact is that Australians do purchase online – but they buy more from overseas than local companies.
Australian Online Shopping – Facts and Figures
By early 2011 around a quarter of mobile users were shopping online with their mobile phone and eBay said that an item was purchased from a mobile every 15 seconds.
It was predicted by Forrester Research that e-commerce would be worth $28 billion in Australia this year – that’s an increase of 17.5 per cent from last year.
So What’s Holding Australian Businesses Back?
There is no shortage of demand for online shopping and no technological or “buyer fear” reasons stopping people from buying online in Australia. That is shown by the strength of growth in the area.
The main factor holding local Australian retailers back is that the local market in Australia is more expensive than the worldwide market. The simple fact is that it’s cheaper to buy overseas and get it shipped over. This is due partly to the strength of the Australian dollar.
There are other reasons that are driving the business overseas. For retailers like Myers, it’s now more cost-effective for them to set up a retail web site and ship goods directly from China and avoid paying the 10% GST on all goods under $1000 sold to Australians., so the local Australian market doesn’t see the benefit of this trade.
For the big guys, a worldwide market should help because they have the buying power to dominate their competition, but in fact many small businesses are succeeding where the bigger retailers are failing.
Online Shopping for your Small Business
The actual costs of setting up an online shopping facility on a small business web site have come down. WordPress plug-in programs are now plentiful and these can be added seamlessly to your existing site; some are free and some can be bought for a couple of hundred dollars and don’t need a huge amount of expertise to set up.
If you are a manufacturer or have the rights to a brand and can incorporate that brand into your URL while adopting a sound SEO strategy for your site, then you can gain high search rankings and have a good chance of driving traffic to your store.
For many smaller online retail businesses – or “e-tailers” as they are often called – business is flourishing online. Many of the most successful ones started as tiny eBay businesses; these should act as quite an inspiration to small up and coming businesses with their eyes on a share of the online pie. It can be done!
How successful you can be with your own online store will, of course, depend partly on the nature of your business and the strength of your product, but a sound Internet marketing strategy will also go a long way to shaping your success.
Remember – just because you’re not a big retailer doesn’t mean you can’t succeed with an online store.