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Aussie SMB E-Commerce Sales Climb As Local Market Dominates

A new Sensis study has found that for Australian small and medium businesses using e-commerce, online sales are making up an increasing proportion of total sales, with local online sales dominating.

The 2016 Sensis eBusiness Report found that 54 per cent of Australian SMBs are using e-commerce, with 95 per cent making most of their online sales to customers in Australia.

“For those using e-commerce, online sales have grown from 32 per cent to 43 per cent of their total sales over the past four years,” Sensis commercial director Rob Tolliday commented.

“And while a quarter are selling to overseas customers, only 2 per cent are making most of their sales to this group.

“Selling online has become increasingly important as fewer shops have a physical store front and those that do have to battle with major overseas retailers who have landed in the key shopping strips.”

Surveying 1,000 Australian SMBs and 800 Australian consumers, Sensis found that 71 per cent of Australians made purchases online this year, up 10 percentage points from last year, with the most popular items being airline tickets (53 per cent, up from 47 per cent), clothing, accessories or shoes (57 per cent, up from 51 per cent) and hotel reservations (53 per cent, up from 47 per cent).

Sensis found that the average consumer spent $3,300 for the year, down from $4,400.

“While sites such as Amazon offer consumers more choice, the falling Aussie dollar has seen overseas purchases remain steady, with less than a quarter of online purchases being made on overseas sites,” Tolliday noted.

While online transactions continue to grow, concern remains about hacking, with 69 per cent of businesses and 85 per cent of consumers worrying that someone might interfere with their online transactions.

In total, 61 per cent of SMBs now have a website (up from 56 per cent), with 43 per cent of these optimised for mobile devices (up from 35 per cent).

“Of those businesses that don’t have a mobile-friendly website, almost two thirds have no plans to upgrade,” Tolliday commented.

“This is a risky strategy, given Google’s search algorithm preferences mobile-friendly sites, and customers now expect a seamless digital experience on any device.”

Sensis notes the importance of optimising websites for mobile, with 78 per cent of Australians now owning a smartphone and 73 per cent using it to search the internet.

“Businesses not already online often feel overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to start,” Tolliday stated. “The best thing to do is to create a simple digital business strategy. This will help them choose the right products and services to target their customers, while only spending what they can afford.

“While your website can be a crucial destination for your customers, not all businesses have one. Of those businesses without a web presence, almost one in five are listed in a directory, some are featured on third party websites and others are on social media. So your strategy can be tailored to your budget and marketing priorities.”

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