Its inevitable – the retail industry is facing a major overhaul with consumers logging online to make purchases, from groceries to cars, and everything in between. Knowing that an online presence has to be cemented, the question now is – How?

Tim O’Neill, joint managing director of digital agency Reactive reported during theAIMIA Online Retail Forum last Thursday that in Australia, mcommerce revenue reached $155million. While this might seem like a big number, compared to global companies like Amazon (revenue over $1billion) and eBay (revenue over $2billion). O’Neill believes that there is still a long way for local retailers to go in developing this new platform.

Looking at the top 10 Australian online retailers, including names like Catch of the DayBig W and JB Hi-Fi, only 20% have invested on a mobile site, another 20% in developing an iPhone App, and another 20% in mcommerce capabilities. Of the lot,DealsDirect has performed best, with ecommerce, mobile site and mcommerce available to consumers.

According to O’Neill, local brands that have been leading by example includeSportsgirlAsics and Dominos.

“Brands need to think about engaging on a digital level. There are options today like using natural user interfaces like the Xbox Kinect or Microsoft Surface, or through new multi-touch platforms like interactive retail windows and tablets such as the iPad”.

Mark Fletcher, principal consultant from retail consultancy Shopwork Science, who also spoke at the forum, reported that 20% of Australians do most of their shopping online, and that 18% window-shop at shopping centres and then proceed to purchase online. 73% of Australians say that the strength of the Aussie dollar has affected their shopping behaviour, leading them to look online for purchases from overseas.

Fletcher advised that because a consumer’s path to purchase has changed drastically, where before it involved research by speaking to acquaintances, reading consumer magazines like Choice and visiting a few retailers, it has now evolved into a complicated, multi-channel process.

The modern-day consumer’s path to purchase now involves existing brand perceptions, friends offline and online, brand sites, retailer sites, review sites and social media presence.

Fletcher explained: “These changes are happening for several reasons. Increasing affluence means people are shopping for leisure, and there is also a rise in social responsibility which means people are driving less, and thus turning to online shopping. This is also fuelled by an increase use of credit cards for purchasing”.

The ease of access to information online is also a strong driver for change. Fletcher also suggested that marketers reach consumers at these points. “Advertising on the product’s website or review sites, or investing in SEO on search engines, or earning mentions in reputable blogs are good ways to reach consumers during their path to purchases”.

Belle Kwan
BY Belle Kwan ON 21 July 2011
Assistant editor, Marketing magazine &
A marketer's dream who believes everything she sees on TV.
Advertising is not evil, it is an artform and a science.