According to research from AIMIA Retail Industry Group, most retailers in Australia will be forced to develop an online sales arm in the next three years.

The research found that Australians are looking to online offerings in order to find the best deal in the market. Robert Wong CEO of CCMedia and chairman of AIMIA’s Retail Industry Group explains:

“There is no question that traditional media such as press still reaches a lot of people on a daily basis, but there are simply more eyeballs to be found online.”

The research predicts an increase in online advertising expenditure for 2011, with 83% of retailers expected to increase their online budgets. To support this finding, a 2010 Nielsen Technology Study found that Australians spend more time online than watching television and consumers are finding websites as a way of sourcing up-to-date information on specials and deals.

Companies interviewed agreed that email marketing (67%), SEO techniques (57%) and online catalogues (47%) were the top online priorities for their organisations over the next 12 months.

Wong said that the amount of people browsing online cannot be ignored by marketing managers. Even if retailers don’t develop an online sales arm, they will need “a strong online advertising presence to ensure their messages about offers and deals are put up against the emerging clearance houses and discount coupon businesses to maintain market share”.

AIMIA’s research involved qualitative interviews with 21 of Australia’s top retailers, followed by a broad sample quantitative study with 128 major retail businesses.