Two upcoming reports by Forrester Research reveal that while online retail in Australia has grown significantly over the last year, it is otherwise unchanged, but this is set to change in the near future.

Steven Noble, senior analyst at Forrester, has authored the two reports which together provide insights into the state of online retailing in Australia. The first, ‘Performance and Channels‘, investigated how online retailers are faring and their channel strategies, finding that the shift towards multichannel retailing is coming, but is presenting some challenges.

Multichannel shopping tools and features are still in basic stages, with few Australian retailers making progress. In-store collection is provided by 49 percent of online retailers, but for the biggest, nation-wide companies it can be very challenging. Coles’ trials with ‘click and collect’ refrigerators was highlighted as an advancement, allowing customers to order online and collect from locked refrigerators located outside supermarkets and petrol stations.

The second report, ‘Marketing, Merchandising and Customer Service‘, found that Australian online retailers are still quite focused on the customer engagement basics, prioritising search at the expense of other forms of marketing. The number one strategy to improve performance presently is content improvement. But Forrester predicts the future will see affiliate marketing becoming mainstream, with experiments in richer forms of content and measurement taking place.

Forrester predicts that while the growth seen over the last year will continue, the appearance of the industry will not remain static. Over the next few years, the big online-only retailers will get bigger, while the small ones will focus on niches if they want to keep growing as they have been. And once Australia’s bricks and mortar retailers start to invest significantly more in online, they will play to their strengths of brand recognition, scale and financial resources to finally build multichannel retail experiences.

Peter Roper
BY Peter Roper ON 30 September 2011
Editor of Marketing Magazine and