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Online businesses to see exponential retail growth

Research jointly conducted by Google, Salmat and the Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS) shows that online retailing will explode with growth this year as consumers demand multichannel sales points.

The Global Retail Insights report indicates that online and mobile-accessible sales channels will be the growth areas for businesses, and therefore retailers will need to meet technological challenges to provide these services.

More savvy retailers, the report finds, now understand that an online presence can also convert to in-store sales through brand reinforcement and customer engagement campaigns.

With research gathered from Asia, Europe, and the USA as well as Australia, the report clearly demonstrates that Australian consumers now demand retailers provide pre-purchase research resources and fully transactional websites already available to the rest of the world. Availability of e-commerce platforms will therefore become paramount this year.

Along with the push online, mobile platforms that allow for browsing and buying are also in demand. More than 17 percent of Google retail searches over the retail period in the lead-up to Christmas 2010 occurred on a mobile device. Online catalogue aggregator Lasoo saw a jump of more than 1500 percent in mobile searches via its iPhone app in the same period.

The data collected also indicated that while Australians browsed international retail sites, more than two-thirds of consumers were more comfortable shopping domestically—Australian retailers just needed to make online shopping more convenient.

The report also saw a green trend emerging in global buying patterns with the ‘Lifestyles Of Health & Sustainability’ (LOHAS) industry currently worth US$550 billion per annum globally. Australia’s LOHAS sector is predicted to be worth $31 billion by 2012.

Research fellow Carla Ferraro acknowledged that environmental consciousness is at “an all-time high” and that “consumers are prepared to reward green retailers” and will pay up to 10 percent more for green alternatives.

The best part is that green consumers buy more products on each trip, visit the store more regularly and are less price sensitive, said Ferraro, adding that 75 percent of ‘green’ media resides on the internet.