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E-commerce

eBay finds online retailers optimistic about future

Online small businesses in Australia are highly optimistic about the future despite concerns over the domestic economy, property costs and government regulation, according to new research from eBay.

The Opportunity Economy Study surveyed more than 700 small to medium e-businesses (or SMeBs) and found that Australian SMeBs have a positive business outlook, with 64 per cent of SMeBs feeling optimistic for the next year, and 66 per cent forecasting an overall sales increase in the next 12 months.

Export growth is a key reason for retailers’ positive outlook, according to the eBay survey. With nearly three-quarters of Australia’s online small businesses supporting cross-border sales, and 70 per cent of those businesses expecting their online sales to increase over the next 12 months, cross border e-commerce is a big part of online retail in Australia.

“Australian online businesses are optimistic because they’re seeing the ways that technology can help them move faster and seize global opportunities,” Tim MacKinnon, senior director in retailer growth at eBay, said.

The two biggest trading partners for Aussie retailers are the UK and North America, with 28 per cent of SMeBs saying they have customers in those markets. Other notable trading partners include China, with 15 per cent of SMeBs saying they have customers there, India with 14 per cent and Japan with 10 per cent. Meanwhile, the average Australian retailer on eBay sells into 28 markets, according to MacKinnon.

MacKinnon explained that bigger brands frequently use eBay and similar marketplaces to gauge international demand and decide on store locations in new markets, while smaller businesses are looking to access customers they wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.

Lorna Jane, 2xu, Peter’s of Kensington, Quiksilver, Shoes of Prey and SurfStitch are some larger retailers that sell into international markets through eBay, while Cotton On does the same through Amazon.

Expectations for sales growth are highest for online channels but they are also strong for mobile with half of all respondents expecting increasing sales via this channel. “Australia is one of the most mobile savvy nations in world. Today on eBay, Aussie shoppers buy more through mobile than any other market in the world,” MacKinnon said.

“We’ve seen a lot of negative talk over the years about Australian businesses being slow to evolve at the same rate as the connected consumer, but today we are seeing businesses embracing change at pace and in many cases we are actually further advanced than our global counterparts.”

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