When they’re not changing jobs, eating Nutella, or chilling to Netflix, Australia’s millennials are smashing their credit credits online.

But surprisingly, the results from Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study revealed older generations are not far behind.

The study reveals that 92 per cent of respondents aged between 35 and 44 years (apparently this is old now) indicated they have shopped online, followed closely by 87 per cent of spring chickens aged 45 to 54, and over 55 year olds (81 per cent) (yeah yeah, they’re old).

Australian’s are also global leaders when it comes to ‘cross border’ online shopping – shopping from an online store based outside Australia. Guess that incredibly dodgy deal Gerry Harvey and the other billionaires did with Joe Hockey on GST didn’t help them after all. ‘Integrity of the tax system’ my arse, Joe.

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Our local key-tappers are second only to Singapore (89 per cent) when it comes to buying offshore. In fact a majority of Australians now shop cross-border (86 per cent), compared to the likes of the United States, where just 45 per cent of respondents indicated they have taken part in ‘cross-border’ shopping online (mostly because they don’t know there’s an “offshore” out there, presumably).

The top three reasons they cite for making a cross border online purchase include price, selection and quality.

Conversely, 72 per cent 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. In line with this, 74 per cent of Australian respondents still rank Australia as the safest online shopping option, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom.

According to Pitney Bowes VP and Managing Director for Asia Pacific Software Solutions and Global ecommerce, David Hope,  “The 2016 Global Online Shopping Study highlights the transition towards new behaviours and trends for Australian shoppers and retailers.

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 study also revealed that 90 per cent of Australian millennials have shopped ‘cross border’. Similarly, older generations are close behind, with 89 per cent of respondents aged between 35-44 indicating they have also shopped cross border; 84 per cent of those 45 to 54 year olds and 82 per cent of those aged over 55.

But the frequency is still low. Australians still prefer to make frequent purchases locally, with just 8 per cent of Australian shoppers choosing to shop cross-border on a daily/weekly basis.

Conducted by ORC International, the 2016 Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study surveyed approximately 13,000 adults across 13 countries regarding their perceptions, habits and preferences for making online purchases. A snapshot of key Australian retail trends is outlined below.

The authors said that online shopping has become a way of life for Australian shoppers. Almost half of the Australian respondents (47 per cent) now say they make domestic online purchases on a monthly basis, and close to one-fifth of Australians (17 per cent) make daily/weekly purchases online.

What also drives cross-border shopping is the mutually beneficial union between physical stores and online platforms. Globally, 63 per cent 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.

This presents a huge opportunity for Australian retailers and brands, with recent figures from AusTrade revealing more than 7 million international travellers visited Australia within the 2015/2016 financial year.

In addition, findings uncovered 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.

Today’s consumers are empowered by choice. They have the option of shopping from a retailer website or an online marketplace and the study shows they like it that way.

Compared to a global average of 24 per cent, almost half of Australian consumers (43 per cent) 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.

When it comes to making an online purchase outside of Australia, the playing field is more equal, with 33 per cent choosing online retailers, compared to 34 per cent who prefer online marketplaces. This suggests retailers should consider a broad presence and multiple channels to reach global shoppers.

Throughout the shopping journey, mobile devices are playing an increasingly pivotal role. More than a third of Australian consumers (36 per cent) indicated they are likely to use a mobile device (including tablets and phones) when browsing for products locally online. When it comes to purchasing, 29 per cent of surveyed Australians use their mobile device.

Results also uncovered new insight into how consumers are finding products domestically online. Shoppers in Australia are likely to choose search engines (52 per cent) and online retailers (52 per cent) equally. Other popular discovery tools include email messages (24 per cent) and online marketplaces (41 per cent).

According to the authors 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 per cent) choose e-wallet options over credit card payments (29 per cent), which allow multiple payment accounts to be stored in one place.

“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 per cent), offer of a purchase protection plan (32 per cent) and value of the purchase (24 per cent), as the most important considerations,” said the researchers.

Online shipping and returns continue to be a major pain point for consumers. When asked about holiday shopping, one third (32 per cent) of Australian consumers said 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; a transparent returns policy; and proper duty and tax were all cited as challenges.

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Hong Kong (65 per cent), India (59 per cent), South Korea (55 per cent), Singapore and China (both 54 per cent) were among the countries that experienced the greatest headaches with online shopping during the 2015 holiday season. Although Australia fares well in comparison to some global counterparts (32 per cent), the pressure is on retailers and marketplaces to make significant improvements in the consumer experience heading into this holiday.

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