Australia - Country Commercial Guide
eCommerce

Describes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and covers prominent B2B websites.

Last published date: 2021-08-19

Overview

The Australian ecommerce market was turbocharged by the global pandemic in 2020. Due to social distancing, border closures and lockdowns, ecommerce spending in Australia reached US$38 billion – up from US$19.5 billion in 2019.  Australia Post, in its 2021 eCommerce Industry Report, suggests that four out of five Australian households (9 million) made online purchases during 2020. Online commerce grew from nine percent to 16 percent of total retail trade in Australia over 2020.  More than 1.36 million Australian households made an online purchase for the first time in 2020. This is a seismic shift in the way Australian consumers choose to purchase goods with consumers now enjoying the convenience and safety of online shopping. It is expected that retailers and digital marketing agencies will double down on their efforts to offer ecommerce solutions and services to the market.

Global supply chain bottlenecks and freight delays caused by reduced air travel have meant Australian consumers are also looking to purchase locally instead of from overseas suppliers.

Current Market Trends

According to a recent survey carried out by Australia Post, some of the fastest growing categories for online commerce are fashion (increase in number of shoppers over 2019 by 45.5%), variety stores – e.g.: large retailers, and online marketplaces (increase in number of shoppers over 2019 by 51.1%). Other leading sectors include health and beauty, homewares/appliances and garden, hobbies and recreational goods, books, and specialty food and liquor. The food and meal delivery market is valued at nearly US$680 million a month and is one of the main drivers of the online spending market. Canstar Blue suggests that Australians, on average, spend US$35 a month on food delivery services. The leading providers of food delivery services in Australia are DoorDash, Uber Eats, Menulog, and Deliveroo.

Domestic eCommerce (B2C)

Ecommerce sales on domestically-based ecommerce sites make up most of the overall ecommerce market. The two largest ecommerce platforms are eBay AU and Amazon AU. The remainder of B2C eCommerce takes place at the individual companies’ websites. With over 13 million active Facebook users in Australia, social media is also a big driver in the promotion of B2C transactions. Retailers are driving sales through a mix of shop and online promotions or “multi-channel”. The finance industry is a major driver with the large four Australian banks providing a range of cutting-edge tools for accessing accounts, paying bills, and making mobile transactions. B2B sales are somewhat more fragmented with less reliance on eCommerce platforms for trading.

Cross-Border eCommerce

Only 20% of Australians purchased products in 2020 from international sellers. Australia Post reports that 40 percent of Australian shoppers’ most recent purchases were from China. The United States has declined in share over the past two years and now accounts for 21 percent of overseas purchases, followed by United Kingdom (14%), Hong Kong (6%), and New Zealand (3%). International freight bottlenecks due to the pandemic have meant that local consumers are more disposed to purchasing from local retailers.  A Goods and Services Tax (GST) is charged at a rate of 10 percent of the landed value of these goods originating from overseas. A recipient is not a consumer if they are a GST-registered business who purchases the goods for use in their business in Australia. The supplier can be sure this is the case if they obtain the recipient’s ABN and the recipient states to them that they are GST-registered. 

The reporting requirements for customs documents apply when the supplier is registered for GST in Australia and responsible for sales of low value goods. This includes items where GST is not charged because the customer is not a consumer – if so, the tax information which must be included is the supplier’s GST registration number and the recipient’s ABN (if the supplier has it). 

A supplier only needs to be registered for GST if the value of their sales of low-value goods imported into Australia by consumers (plus any other sales made that are connected with Australia) is AU$75,000 or more in a 12-month period. If the supplier only makes sales to Australia of goods imported by GST-registered businesses, they will not be required to register for GST. This means there will be no requirement to include the information in customs documents.

More information can be found on doing business in Australia, including a webinar and some short factsheets as well as detailed web guidance and links to public rulings may be found on the Australian Taxation office’s website.

Other sections relevant to U.S. exporters include:

-Sales of low value goods to GST-registered businesses

-Requirements for customs documents

eCommerce Services

Major fulfillment service providers in the local market include Australia Post, DHL, FedEx, TNT, Toll, and StarTrack.

Popular eCommerce Sites

Popular eCommerce sites in Australia include eBay (AU), Amazon (AU), Woolworths, JB HiFi, Big W, Coles, Kogan.com, Officeworks, Chemist Warehouse, and Catch.

Online Payment

According to Australia Post research, 48.8 percent of all online payments are made via PayPal. Credit and debit cards account 39.9 percent of online payments. The fastest growing segment is the buy now pay later market. Market leader, AfterPay recorded a 15 percent increase in customers over 2020.

Mobile eCommerce

Mobile eCommerce represents a significant opportunity in the local market. With mobile penetration at close to 100%, mobile payments and purchasing is a major strategy for all retailers. According to a report by PayPal, 26.4 percent of all ecommerce transactions occur via mobile phone, representing a 28.8 percent year-on-year increase, and dwarfing transactions made over laptop and desktop, which have been shrinking over the last couple of years.

Digital Marketing

Australia’s digital advertising market grew by 20 percent over 2020. Digital marketing spend over the same period reached US$7.5 billion. Video advertising is the largest growth segment of the local market – with annual spend in 2020 reaching US$1.2 billion, up 17.2 percent on 2019.