Australian consumers do significantly less of their shopping online compared to the rest of APAC, according to new marketing research from Rakuten. The Japanese ecommerce giant claims high shipping costs and problems returning items are making Australians hesitate at the online checkout.

Rakuten’s APAC State of e-Commerce report looks at the online shopping behaviours and preferences of 500 consumers in each of the nine key markets within APAC – Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Japan and India.

Findings reveal Australia lags behind in the global e-Commerce space. Only 36 per cent of total shopping is transacted online in Australia, considerably lower compared to the average 47 per cent seen throughout the rest of APAC.

Of the Australians making online purchases, transactions are primarily taking place on desktop (50 per cent), followed by mobile (36 per cent) and tablet (14 per cent). The research proves Australia as an outlier to the rest of APAC, with mobile purchases accounting for the largest portion of total online sales, averaging 45 per cent across the rest of the region.

High shipping costs were revealed to be the number one contributor holding Australians back from online shopping. Up 14 per cent from last year, 52 per cent claim this is a major deterrent alongside concerns over returning items (27 per cent), lack of payment security (22 per cent) and website legitimacy (22 per cent).

When deciding where to shop, both Australian and APAC consumers as a whole are mainly driven by price-point (81.3 per cent and 80.9 per cent respectively). Other key factors encouraging Australian consumers to purchase online include variety of products on offer (63 per cent), delivery times (55 per cent), and website usability (50 per cent). Twenty percent of consumers are influenced by the availability of vouchers & promotions, and 16 per cent by the availability of cashback and rewards.

Additionally, the majority of online purchases are being spent on travel (14 per cent), groceries and household goods (12 per cent) and female fashion (10 per cent).

Of particular interest to marketers, online search proved to be the most popular method of brand discovery with 77 per cent of respondents stating as preference, followed by family and friends (35 per cent) and social media (27 per cent). Surprisingly, Australian consumers also revealed they discover new brands via deal and coupon sites (15 per cent) and cashback and reward sites (9 per cent).

Once connected with a brand, Australians choose to engage primarily via Facebook (29 per cent), followed by email (28 per cent) and Instagram (20 per cent). Interestingly, a mere 3 per cent of Aussies engage with brands via Snapchat.

Commenting on the research findings, Managing Director of International at Rakuten Marketing, Anthony Capano said: “eMarketer is forecasting global e-commerce to exceed $3.5 trillion by the end of the year, and of this, the Asia-Pacific region will drive 64 per cent of all retail sales. The APAC market, including Australia, presents a wealth of opportunities for brands and retailers looking to enter the region.

“The findings of this report will assist brands and marketers in developing a deeper understanding of the nuanced behaviours of consumers within APAC and help identify new opportunities. We hope this report helps businesses make more informed decisions on how to best grow and operate within the region.”

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