The latest Frost & Sullivan online consumer survey has found that the main draw card for buying computers and electronics is price.
Price had a higher relevance for respondents purchasing computers and electronics than buyers of jewellery, fashion accessories and footwear.
Of 1000 online shoppers surveyed over the past three months, 39 percent said cheaper prices drove them to purchase online, followed by 29 percent who said they shopped online for convenience.
In a gender breakdown, the driver for men was price, whereas the driver for women was the convenience of shopping from home.
The analyst firm asked respondents what websites they visited before making an online purchase. Search engines "as expected came out on top", said Phil Harpur, senior research manager of Digital Media ANZ for Frost & Sullivan.
"But what was interesting was product review sites and price comparison sites were really out there. People are reaching out to specific sites for product research.
"And within that males use [review and price comparison sites] more than females and people shopping for computers and electronics used them more than females," he said.
In the next year, however, more respondents said they will buy clothing, jewellery, fashion accessories, footwear and books online. Computers and electronics had a relatively low response rate, said Harpur.
Australia vs international spend
According to the Frost & Sullivan survey, the overall online shopping spend in Australia since 2007 is around $7 billion on domestic sites. When international sites were included the figure rose to around $12 billion.
Dampening these figures was the fact that the Australian market in comparison to other [global] markets was "underdeveloped".
"It was a stand-out," Harpur said. "Compared to more mature markets in the US and UK there is a three year lay.
"Domestic online spend here as a total percentage on retail spend, we estimated somewhere in the vicinity of 3 percent. Whereas if you look at markets such as the US and UK it's probably around 5 percent, or more."
As for the coming 12 months, 21 precent of respondents said they will shop more online, 16 percent said they will shop less. Harpur said the results were "pretty much in line with our predictions of reasonable and moderate growth".
A further discovery was the lack of local presence by large retail chains and department stores.
"It's good to see JB HiFi, Dick Smith and Big W have all launched but if you look at the overall penetration of the area it's relatively behind a market such as the UK.
"Hopefully in the next two years we'll really see some more launches. We really need that as a catalyst to kick start the market in Australia."
Harvey Norman recently revealed its three year ecommerce plan.
Some of the inhibitors to growth were Australia's very strong physical store presence, limited mail order and catalogue development in Australia and a lack of competitive postal services.
"You could say that in the US you have a lot more competition and larger players such as FedEX," said Harpur.
Overseas sites are really targeting Australians offering globalised services, prices and shipping in Australian dollars.
According to figures from Hitwise, Ebay Australia is the most popular online shopping site in Australia.
Issue: 316 | July 2013
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