eBay’s top Australian businesses reach new heights

Press Release

Growth: Top 2,000 eBay sellers grow revenue 45%; 157 millionaires in 2011
Optimism: 63% Aussie eBay top businesses optimistic about 2012, hiring more staff
Challenges: Economic concerns, shipping & restrictive trade practices impacting growth

Buoyed by significant 2011 growth, nearly two-thirds (63%) of eBay’s largest businesses are optimistic about the year ahead, according to the third annual Online Business Index (OBI), a major annual survey of eBay’s top Australian businesses.

The 2012 OBI found that the top 2,000 sellers grew revenue by a phenomenal 45 per cent, and the top 3,000 sellers increased staff by 20 per cent from the previous year. Almost 160 Australian businesses topped $1 million in 2011 eBay sales, up 31 per cent from the previous year.

The research also revealed Australian businesses are keen to tap into the explosive growth in mobile commerce, but are handicapped by a lack of knowledge and infrastructure to effectively reach mobile consumers.

With more and more Australians using their mobile to research, shop and browse, seven out of 10 (72%) top 3000 eBay sellers said mobile commerce will play an important role in their business strategy in 2012. While the majority of eBay sellers recognise the growth potential of mobile, one out of six (17%) said they don’t know how they’ll invest in mobile commerce while 40 per cent said they lack the knowledge to make informed mobile investments.

The research revealed that:

  • Slow mobile internet speeds (28%), unreliable coverage (24%) and the high cost of mobile internet access (21%) were all major barriers to growing respondents’ mobile commerce business.
  • Six out of ten (61%) said 2012 will be the first year their business invests in mobile commerce.
  • Nearly half (46%) said they will optimise online content for mobile, 24% said they would develop a mobile website and 21% said they would develop a mobile app.

Deborah Sharkey, eBay Vice President, is today launching the 2012 OBI in Sydney with The Hon David Bradbury MP, Assistant Treasurer, and executives from Australia Post, the Australian Retailers Association and international retailer Supré.

Ms Sharkey said, “Retailers on eBay were some of the first to recognise the growth opportunities of online retail and have continued to innovate, adapt and integrate multi-channel business models to stay ahead of their competitors.”

“In 2012, ecommerce and increasingly mobile commerce will continue to drive retail growth. There is great opportunity for Australian businesses to invest in innovative mobile solutions to reach the new mobile consumer,” Ms Sharkey said.

Previous eBay research found that over four million Australian smartphone owners used their mobiles to compare prices before purchasing, and 37 per cent who researched a product using their mobile did so while looking at the product in a physical store.

Catherine Taouk, International Brand Manager for Australian fashion retailer, Supré, said the retailer established a mobile-friendly shopping site after seeing a spike in transactions from mobile devices.

Ms Taouk said, “Consumers now expect to be able to access their brands no matter where they are, whether it is in-store, online or via their mobiles. In the last 18 months, 15 per cent of our online transactions have come from mobile phones or tablets and we expect this trend to continue.”

Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director for the Australian Retailers Association said, “Good retailers are innovating towards offering a multi-channel shopping experience to their new and existing customers. The OBI is an essential indicator of the challenges in educating business owners about the incredible opportunities available in the online space. While having a presence in the ecommerce and mobile market is a growth opportunity in itself, it’s also a necessity to ensure the shopping experience is seamless and integrated across the many channels Australians are now conducting their business.”

Retail growth isn’t without its challenges however. Pressure from manufacturers and suppliers continues, with one-third (34%) of respondents reporting some suppliers tried to prevent them from selling products online, similar to the result in 2011 (35%).

International competition (60%), the state of the global economy (56%) and postage costs (55%) were cited as the biggest challenges that will impact respondents’ growth.

The full Online Business Index, as well as a webcast from today’s launch, can be found here

The OBI Report can be found here

The OBI fact sheet can be found here