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Gloomy forecast: Zero sales growth forecast for Aussie retailers

Australian online retailers are bracing for a challenging year ahead, as new research indicates that 90 per cent of them expect no sales revenue growth in 2023

Recent research conducted by CouriersPlease has revealed concerning trends in the Australian online retail industry. The reasons for this lack of growth expectations are numerous. The primary concerns identified by the respondents were cash flow availability, customer retention, and overhead costs. These findings reflect the prevailing sentiment across Australia, highlighting the widespread difficulties faced by online retailers, regardless of their size or location.

The study highlighted challenges such as surging inflation rates, rising interest rates, and wage pressures, all of which are impacting consumer spending and demand. As an SME owner, it’s crucial to be aware of these external factors that can influence your business’s performance.

The study also shed light on the primary concerns of online retailers. Cash flow availability was identified as the top concern, followed closely by customer retention and overhead costs. These findings indicate that managing finances and retaining customers are crucial aspects to focus on for SMEs in the online retail space.

The research reflects the current sentiment across the country, with businesses of all sizes and locations experiencing pessimism due to economic uncertainties. However, it’s essential to remain optimistic and proactive. 

As an SME owner, you can take steps to adapt to the challenging environment and strategise to secure sales and revenue.

Understanding the outlook in different states can also be valuable. Retailers in Victoria expressed the most pessimism, while West Australian retailers were the most optimistic. Being aware of regional differences can help SMEs tailor their strategies accordingly.

For SMEs, paying attention to your business’s size and specific concerns is essential. The study showed that smaller SMEs with 16-50 employees were the most apprehensive, while micro businesses with 1-15 employees and larger businesses with over 200 employees also had their unique concerns.

Richard Thame, CEO at CouriersPlease, acknowledged the tough environment but expressed confidence in the resilience of the E-Commerce sector. He believes that despite the uncertainty in the economic outlook, online retailers will adapt and strategies to emerge stronger on the other side. Thame cited the parcel delivery service’s experience, revealing that they handled over 30 million parcels in 2022, even amidst economic challenges.

“While the economic outlook is uncertain, I have no doubt that the E-Commerce sector will overcome the challenging environment and emerge ever stronger on the other side. As one of Australia’s leading parcel delivery services, we ship and deliver every day from across a network of over 1200 franchisees and contractors. In 2022 we delivered more than 30 million parcels, an increase of two million when compared with 2021. Both years were fraught with their own economic challenges, but as our records show, online retailers managed to adapt and strategise to secure sales.” 

Richard explains: “The data reveals online retailers are facing a varying number of significant challenges and that there isn’t one universal issue affecting all businesses. Concerns such as cash flow constraints and the ultra-competitive labour market can’t be resolved overnight, but by keeping the customer experience at the heart of their business journey, such as providing convenient delivery options or offering loyalty incentives, online retailers can mitigate avoidable revenue loss.”  

The full survey results, including age and State breakdowns, can be found here: E-Commerce Under Pressure: A Survey of the Biggest Challenges Facing Online Retailers Today 

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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