Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Online Orders Surge As Retailers Lag - Online Shopping Australia

The number of online orders to Australian businesses increased by almost a third during the 2010-11 financial year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics research released on Tuesday showed that local businesses received online orders worth $189 billion in the 12 months to June 30, 2011, an increase of $46 billion, or 32 per cent, on the previous corresponding period.

However, the data also showed that only 28 per cent of business said they had received orders via the internet, a mere 13 per cent increase on the previous year.

In contrast, more than half of businesses in Australia, 51 per cent, reported placing orders for goods and services on the internet in last financial year, up nine per cent in the previous year, ABS data showed.

In another troubling sign, just below 40 per cent of business reported ‘‘some form of innovative activity’’ in 2010-11, the ABS said, with 66 per cent of large businesses reporting activities to boost efficiency and lower costs. Only 30 per cent of companies with four employees or less reported the same, the ABS said.

The gap between businesses receiving orders online and those placing them highlighted the demand for changes by local industries and the constraints that many businesses in Australia work under. The slow pace of innovation in Australia has held back the nation’s overall productivity, an area of concern for the central bank and economists.

RBA forecasts of economic growth routinely factor in improvements in productivity to achieve the expansion, yet productivity in Australia has lagged in recent years.

RBA governor Glenn Stevens recently urged politicians to follow the suggestions of the productivity commission in order to boost the the efficiencies and lower the cost in the economy.

Australia’s economy, while expanding by 1.3 per cent in the first quarter, has been riven by disparities in performance between mining and non-mining states and industries.

Macquarie senior economist Brian Radican said that internet usage in Australia is lower than in the comparable economies of the US or UK.

Yet, the distances in Australia suggest that the internet usage for commerce could have a larger benefit locally.

“A deeper embrace of its use by Australian business could arguably have a bigger benefit here than it would in other regions,” he said.

Across all sectors 40 to 43 per cent of businesses had a website.

But while 97 per cent of large business had a website, only a third of small businesses reported having one.

“If firms can drive some of the costs out of businesses, they can produce more for less,” he said.
However, Mr Radican cautioned that Australia’s weaker productivity was also driven by industrial relations challenges and other factors.