Computers still number one online

Computers still number one online

Computer products remain the top category of goods bought online, according to a report by Ernst & Young on the health of Australia's e-tailing business.

However, computers now share equal footing with books on shoppers' online lists. Around 45 per cent of buyers surveyed have bought from the two categories. The report, compiled by Ernst & Young national director for retail and consumer product in Australia Steve Ferguson, is part of a global online retailing report by the company.

The study found that despite the demise of many e-tailing businesses last year, opportunities in the local market are still there for the taking.

Many retailers think of online retailing as a way to expand their international presence, according to the report. And despite a "largely positive climate" in Australian e-tailing, remains the most popular site - named by 24 per cent of buyers surveyed. Myer Direct comes second on the list, with dstore coming in third.

According to the report, shoppers spend an average of $800 online annually. But while figures suggest online shopping will continue to grow, only 37 per cent of visits to a shopping site result in an online purchase.

Retailers are also less likely to offer an extensive product range online.

"The merchandise mix offered by traditional Australian retailers on their sites tends to be less extensive than that offered in their physical stores," the report states.

According to the study, fulfilment, delivery, systems integration, procurement and inventory management are all areas in which online retailers can create efficiencies and cut costs by using B2B initiatives. For example, 69 per cent of retailers reported having no information link between their online order system and back-end transaction systems such as fulfilment and billing.

"Consumers are seeking an online option and it has become a competitive necessity. The growth and potential of online shopping means traditional retailers should no longer view e-commerce as an option, but as a business requirement," said Ernst & Young's e-commerce partner Mark Runnalls.

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