Supporting local online stores just lip service for Australians – price number 1 consideration

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  • Only 57% of Australians shoppers prefer to shop from local sites
  • Fast and reliable delivery and competitive prices top the list for online
  • Australians plan on doing 35% of their 2012 Christmas shopping online

Tuesday, 4 December 2012 — Competitive prices and fast, reliable delivery top the list of ‘must-haves’ for shoppers on online retail sites, according to a new survey.

The EY Customer Experience Series™ – Online Retail found that online sites must get ‘the fundamentals’ right to be successful including ‘prompt delivery’ (30%), ‘good deals / prices’ (18%) and ‘getting orders right first time’ (14%). If the site doesn’t deliver the basics, one in four shoppers will abandon the purchase immediately after their initial search for information.

The online shopping survey is the third in EY’s Customer Experience Series™ developed to investigate consumer decision-making in key sectors focusing on the pain-points and opportunities. The results of the 2012 survey draw upon comparisons with the findings of the same survey conducted 12 months ago.

EY Customer Leader, Advisory, John Rolland said consumer expectations around ‘getting the basics right’ applied regardless of whether the site was Australian or international.

“While the idea of supporting Australian-based online stores is paid lip service, Australians are not automatically defaulting to shopping from domestic online sites.

“This is because it is not simply a case of ‘if we build it, they will come’. Online shoppers can be unforgiving. If you don’t have the basics right at the outset, people will abandon your site at the very first step - and you’ll have to work doubly hard to get them to come back,” Mr Rolland said.

“Looking at recent online phenomenon “Click Frenzy”, people signed up in droves but the technology couldn’t support the numbers. While it’s easy to see why the concept has been successful overseas, it also clearly shows us customer experience online is critical.”

The survey found 57% of Australians agree they would prefer to support local sites, however, 43% either didn’t agree or didn’t care. However, 46% agree it doesn’t matter whether the site is Australian or international.

Mr Rolland said research confirmed that while Australians felt the origin of where something was made or where the business was based was important, value for money always won out1.

“When judging the reputation of a business, 47% of Australians considered value for money number one versus 24% who believe ‘Australian owned’ is most important. The same values could apply to shopping online from Australian retailers as opposed to overseas ones.

“Previously ‘Australian Made’ would invoke an element of national pride, but it has a different transactional value now,” he said.

Mr Rolland said the very nature of online shopping meant a new transparency in global pricing for Australian consumers. “We now have a great deal more insight into how much things cost in global markets, so we’re less willing to put up with significant disparities in cost.

“While the gap is beginning to close, we can’t continue to underestimate the importance of competitive prices and value to the Australian consumer. This is as relevant now given continued volatility and low consumer confidence as well as during good times.”

Australian shoppers now have a more global mindset and see online as a ‘level playing field’ with 54% believing Australian retailers should offer the same prices as overseas.

“While clearly important, price is not the end game. Whether local or overseas, the successful sites will tick all the boxes when it came to the basics, but will also engage with consumers at an emotional and more personalised level.”

Mr Rolland said key lifestyle and leisure trends emerging over the past decade had contributed to the adoption of online shopping. And while only 60% of Australians had taken the plunge online, undoubtedly the growth of online continues would continue to soar2.

“We know Australians are time poor, they’re feeling an increasing ‘lack of control’ over their lives and don’t like complex decision-making. This means they default to the simplest tools that help them in their everyday decisions - such as online shopping. Given financial pressure, it makes sense that money is a key motivator for both researching and purchasing online.

“Australians have always strongly adopted technologies which make life easier, be it for convenience, money and time saving as well as affording people more control.


Mr Rolland said while online shopping was perceived as more time-saving than ‘going to the shops’, time continued to be the main stumbling block to uptake. The key ‘sticking points’ were searching for information and the first made contact made with an organisation online.

“Time is both a key advantage and a key barrier to online. And as we know the key barrier to online is that it doesn’t fulfil consumers’ need for ‘instant gratification’,” he said.

“It’s a double-edged sword. While Australian consumers are demanding more choice they’re also paralysed by it. The allure of the ‘virtual shopping centre’ is in its excitement, convenience and the fact it offers a break from a generally homogenous retail environment in Australia.”

The online retail findings are based on both quantitative and qualitative data collected from 625 respondents across Australia. The Series draws upon the findings of a 20-year Australian social values study, AustraliaSCAN3 which identifies key social trends and cultural change.

Other key findings of the Customer Experience Series™ Online Retail include:

  • People want Australian stores to have ‘shorter delivery times’ (51%) and to reduce hidden costs/fees (47%).
  • About a quarter of people say they’re increasing the amount they spend shopping online for Christmas presents from last year, almost half will spend the same amount.
  • Customers cited eBay and Amazon as the most successful online stores. eBay was considered the best overall, particularly by men and those in regional areas, followed by Australian sites (with a physical presence), deal sites and international sites (with a physical presence).
  • Two-thirds (66%) say that they would rather go to a store than buy online, suggesting a level of ‘instant gratification’ not being met by online shopping. More than half (52%) said they sometimes won’t shop online because of delivery time.
  • When judging the success of online shopping sites, the key was having a range of products (48%) followed by cheaper/reasonable/lowest prices.
  • Shoppers felt the most frustrating parts about some online sites was a lack of friendly navigation and slow delivery. They also found information gathering takes too long time.
  • Very few people give up on buying online due to inconvenience (6%). Most give up as a result of not being able to find what they are looking for (19%) or if they feel it costs more online when factoring in delivery than it would from a physical store (19%).

1AustraliaSCAN conducted by Quantum Market Research has been measuring social values and cultural change by interviewing a random sample of 2000 Australians each year.
2AustraliaSCAN conducted by Quantum Market Research has been measuring social values and cultural change by interviewing a representative sample of 2000 Australians each year
3AustraliaSCAN conducted by Quantum Market Research has been measuring social values and cultural change by interviewing a representative sample of 2000 Australians each year.


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Contact details:

Katherine Rellos
EY Australia
Tel: +61 3 9288 8322 or 0411 245 099