Consumers Flocking Online To Buy As US Retailers Move In
The rise in the Aussie dollar has seen Australian consumers flocking to overseas-based Web sites in record numbers to make purchases – especially fashion and consumer electronic items.
Riding the trend is eBay Australia, which for the past month has been conducting what it calls “a soft launch” of a fashion portal in Australia – hooking up Aussie customers with labels such as Topshop, lingerie vendor Victoria’s Secret, and legendary upmarket department store Nordstrom.
“As eBay approaches its 11th birthday in October, we have grown tremendously,” says eBay Australia spokesman Daniel Feiler.
“Our figures show Australian eBay users are purchasing 60 percent more with offshore sellers than a year ago, and we are drawing on that with the ‘soft’ launch of our global portal, focusing just on fashion this month,” Feiler told CDN.
Although eBay Australia does not break out local figures, international revenues at the parent company rose 4 percent in 2009 to US$4.7 billion (A$5.02 billion) based on strong global demand.
The latest surge in business comes as the Aussie hovered around 94 US cents, based on a weaker greenback and bullish economic data in the US, as well as strong economic conditions Down Under.
However, Feiler says that the local dollar is not the only impetus for Australians shopping offshore.
“Australians are more comfortable shopping overseas online and this is down to two factors: one is value and the other is the strong Aussie dollar. However, it is down to the huge markets of the US and UK,” Feiler told CDN. “The US is always cheaper for clothing and fashion.
“Australians no longer have to visit the US with an empty suitcase – they don’t need to do that any more while they can shop online regardless of the strength of the dollar.
Free shipping, too
“This beta portal launch is essentially tapping into that trend but initially value is the component, not just the Aussie dollar. That is part of it, but the other thing is the range – you can get brands and fashion labels online from overseas that are not available in Australia.
“Australians are cosmopolitan and more confident shopping online, and while it is early days for the fashion portal, we are tapping into the fashion trend as the largest category on ebay.com.au.
“There is a growing trend for fashion labels such a Victoria’s Secret and Top Shop to open this portal to Australian customers. Some are targeting consumers with promotions such as free shipping to Australia.”
Research from Forrester shows that 35 per cent of Australia’s online retailers expect sales to rise more than 50 per cent in 2010. – Kate Castellari