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Online shopping may overtake retail

As bargain-hunters flock to major department stores on the busiest shopping day of the year, SBS’ Shalailah Medhora looks at what eCommerce will mean for the sector.


Retail associations estimate more than 50 per cent of Australians have purchased goods and services off foreign websites.

In September alone, 1.2 million Australians made purchases from foreign websites, and research shows we’re predominantly looking for things we can’t get here.

Jennifer Barry is one of the millions of Aussies who decided to buy presents online this Christmas.

She estimates she bought half of all her Christmas presents online.

“I think that convenience of just being able to sit at my desk, in front of my laptop, just typing away… The last thing I want to do is actually be battling for a parking spot at my local shopping centre and by the time I actually get to the shops I don’t really feel like shopping any more,” she told SBS.

Adrian Christie from PayPal says people are purchasing goods from overseas because of range and access, not price.

“Now, with the strong Australian dollar there has been a seasonal spike in people going to those markets, but really people can’t get the goods in Australia”, he told SBS.

Door to door delivery and crowded shopping centres are other factors and of course, consumers are considering their hip pocket.

Entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan started his online electronics business in 2006.

Since then, his company has grown rapidly, enough to put the 28-year old Victorian on BRW’s young rich list.

He says bricks and mortar retailers need to get with the times.

“You can’t invent a business model forty years ago and say that this is the business model that should be used today,” he told SBS.

“If you look at someone like Steve Jobs, he didn’t… Apple didn’t release the first iPhone and just say this is the iPhone we’re going to use for the next forty years, so business is all about constant innovation”.

Retail giant Gerry Harvey has called for tighter regulation of the eCommerce industry, including imposing Goods and Services Tax on items that cost less than $1000.

But consumers are wary of these calls, and are likely to vote with their feet – or, in the case of online shopping, their fingers – when deciding where to spend their hard-earned money.

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