Online shopping has moved from cutting-edge to normal consumer behavior over the past couple of years.
In Australia, we hear traditional retailers complaining about the high cost of wages and rent as their sales decline.
In 2012, 9.6 million Australians aged over 15 years will make online shopping purchases, according to research by PwC and Frost & Sullivan.
Some 88 percent of online shoppers in Australia are expecting to maintain or increase their online expenditure, indicating there is solid momentum in online shopping uptake. This continual rapid growth in Australia and offshore is driving structural changes in the traditional retail model.
I used to think that clothes would be the least likely sector to shift online, but with improved delivery services and the possibility of returning goods it is no longer a final frontier.
Buying flowers online
One of the first online shopping experiences I ever had was buying flowers. It was so much more convenient than going into a shop. It’s now even possible to organise international flower delivery.
Australia Post recently announced it will introduce parcel lockers in Adelaide.
That breaks down another barrier to online shopping — the problem of not being home when your parcel arrives. Now, when you make an online order, instead of having a parcel delivered to your home, you can have it delivered to a secure, 24-hour parcel locker, to pick up anytime it suits.
Frankly, I find it hard to see how traditional retailers will survive, especially in high-cost environments such as Australia.
Whether you want home delivery or the ability to send flowers to New York, the web is such a powerful and convenient tool.
As the PwC study found, 75 percent of Australians who currently shop online make purchases from offshore sites, with around 45 percent of online expenditure going overseas. This has tax implications for the Federal Government and there is talk about adding GST to overseas purchases.
According to the report, by far the main consumer reason for shopping through international sites is to obtain lower prices than available locally, followed by access to a greater variety of goods.