Why is online shopping so popular?

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The number of Australians choosing to shop online is increasing exponentially year-by-year. Here’s an overview of this modern e-commerce phenomenon and the factors behind changing consumer behaviours towards online shopping.

Can we imagine modern life without the convenience of shopping for products from the comfort of our homes?

While terms like ‘online shopping addiction’ did not exist a few decades ago, today all a consumer needs to make a purchase from an e-commerce store is a smart device and a working internet connection before waiting for the product to be delivered right to their doorstep in the span of a few days or weeks. According to statistics collected by Australia’s national postal service, 9.2 million Australian households shopped online in the year leading up to 30 September 2021, marking a 3.9% year-on-year increase.

The rise in online shopping is of course intrinsically related to the growth of the e-commerce industry. In 1982, Boston Computer Exchange launched the first e-commerce company in history dedicated to selling used computers via an online marketplace. Through the years, e-commerce giants like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba have risen to become household names throughout the world.

The success and popularity of online shopping can be attributed to a few factors including, convenience, accessibility and changing consumer behaviours. We delve deeper into these below.

Online shopping is convenient

The convenience of online shopping is undoubtedly a huge factor behind its rise. Gone are the days when buying a new top or a pair of shoes required a planned trip into town. Everything from the latest designer handbag to weekly groceries can be delivered right to a person’s doorstep, sometime in the span of a few short hours.

Consumers are no longer limited to the nine-to-five working hours of brick-and-mortar stores and can now shop online around the clock. A person with a busy work schedule might find it difficult to fit a shopping trip into their calendar. However, they will likely have the bandwidth to spend 15 minutes browsing through an e-commerce store on their smartphone before placing an order.

Certain sections of society, for example, individuals with mobility constraints can also benefit from online shopping and the convenience of having items delivered to their doorstep.

Online shopping is accessible

Online shopping opens up a world of possibilities unrestricted by geographical barriers. It is now easier than ever to purchase products from all over the world, provided that they ship to the consumer’s location. Shipping and logistics companies like DHL Express have in a large part contributed to making international goods accessible to consumers across borders.

Online shopping also increases one’s accessibility to a wider variety of products unconstrained by the inventory of one business. If a desired product cannot be found on one website, consumers intuitively know how easy it is to search for it on a different e-commerce platform, or even to find it second hand on dedicated consignment sites.

Changing consumer behaviours towards shopping

Statistics show that 26.5% of the Australian population shopped online at least once a week in 2021. Although it can be argued that some consumers prefer window shopping as opposed to purchasing goods before evaluating the item in-person, the benefits of window shopping pale in comparison to the benefits offered by the e-commerce experience.

The online consumer knows how to shop smart. Price comparisons are as easy as running a quick search on the best deals for a popular product. Free or low-cost shipping is also widely available especially after consumers have spent a certain amount with an e-commerce vendor. That’s not all, the online consumer can look forward to cashing in on savings during exclusive online sales that take place frequently throughout the calendar year. In fact, Gen Z and Gen Y shoppers prove to be the most savvy when it comes to scoring a good online deal, with many Australian millennials holding out for online sales.

One thing is for sure, online shopping is here to stay. The future of e-commerce looks to bring increasingly personalised and value-added shopping experiences to consumers in Australia and beyond.

Find out how your business can take on the world of e-commerce, with our online resources.