A newly published survey by IT services and e-commerce company Pitney Bowes reveals that older generations also like to shop online, with 92% of respondents aged between 35 and 44 years indicating they have shopped online, followed closely by 45 to 54-year-olds (87% ) and over 55s (81%).
And, the global study also reveals that Australian millennials aren’t just leading the way in local online shopping, with Australia a global leader when it comes to “cross border” online shopping – or shopping from an online store based outside Australia.
Second only to Singapore (89%), the majority of Australians now shop cross-border (86%), compared to the US, where just 45% indicated they have taken part in "cross-border" shopping online.
Pitney Bowes says the survey findings suggest online shopping has become a way of life for Australian shoppers, with almost half of the Australian respondents (47%) now saying they make domestic online purchases on a monthly basis and close to one-fifth of Australians (17%) making daily/weekly purchases online.
But, according to the survey, Australians still prefer to make frequent purchases locally, with just 8% of Australian shoppers choosing to shop cross-border on a daily/weekly basis.
Pitney Bowes says that what also drives cross-border shopping is the “mutually-beneficial union” between physical stores and online platforms.
Globally, 63% of surveyed cross-border shoppers make in-store purchases during their international travels and then follow up with online purchases from that same cross-border retailer at home.
Pitney Bowes says this presents a huge opportunity for Australian retailers and brands, with recent figures from AusTrade revealing more than seven million international travellers visited Australia in the 2015/2016 financial year.
The survey also found that almost half of the Australian respondents make in-store purchases during their international travels and follow up with online purchases from that same cross-border retailer – with the top three reasons cited for making a cross border online purchase including price, selection and quality.
Conversely, 72% of Australians claim shipping costs to be the main deterrent stopping them from shopping cross border, along with a lack of trust in online international retailers. And, in line with this, 74% of Australian respondents still rank Australia as the safest online shopping option, followed by the US and the UK.
Pitney Bowes vice-president and managing director for Asia Pacific Software Solutions and Global eCommerce, David Hope, says today’s consumers are empowered by choice and have the option of shopping from a retailer website or an online marketplace – and the study shows they like it that way.
In fact, the study reveals that, compared to a global average of 24%, almost half of Australian consumers (43%) favour individual retailers over marketplaces when making domestic online purchases, citing brand loyalty, trust and personalisation as the top reasons for “staying true” to Australian online retailers.
And, when it comes to making an online purchase outside of Australia, Pitney Bowes notes that the playing field is more equal, with 33% choosing online retailers, compared to 34% who prefer online marketplaces.
Pitney Bowes says this suggests retailers should consider a broad presence and multiple channels to reach global shoppers.
“The 2016 Global Online Shopping Study highlights the transition towards new behaviours and trends for Australian shoppers and retailers,” says Hope.
“As we enter into the peak holiday season, retailers and marketplaces alike should be looking for ways to capitalise on the shifts in consumer behaviour that are inevitably opening up new opportunities for brands and retailers on both a local and international level.”
The survey found that mobile devices are playing an increasingly pivotal role in online shopping, with more than a third of Australian consumers (36%) indicating they are likely to use a mobile device (including tablets and phones) when browsing for products locally online. And, when it comes to purchasing, 29% of surveyed Australians use their mobile device.
Pitney Bowes says the survey also uncovered new insight into how consumers are finding products domestically online, with shoppers in Australia likely to choose search engines (52%) and online retailers (52%) equally. Other popular discovery tools include email messages (24%) and online marketplaces (41%).
The need for choice was also evident with regard to payment types.
For preferred payments selection for international purchases, over half the Australian respondents (56%) choose e-wallet options over credit card payments (29%), which allow multiple payment accounts to be stored in one place.
And, according to Pitney Bowes, breadth of choice again proved to be a crucial theme, “as limiting options for payment alienates a significant number of would-be consumers”.
When asked about the most important factors in selecting a payment option, Australian consumers cited service fees/total cost of purchase (31%), offer of a purchase protection plan (32%) and value of the purchase (24%), as the most important considerations.
But, while Aussies flock online to shop in increasing numbers, online shipping and returns of products continue to be a major pain point.
When asked about holiday shopping, one third (32%) of Australian consumers say they experienced related challenges when shopping online for the 2015 holiday season.
Basic elements of the customer experience such as shipping the right item, accuracy in address and tracking, transparent returns policy and proper duty and tax were all cited as challenges.
Hong Kong (65%), India (59%), South Korea (55%), Singapore and China (both 54%) were among the countries that experienced the “greatest headaches” with online shopping during the 2015 holiday season, Pitney Bowes says.