Post-election online sales growth looming?

Post-election online sales growth looming?

What does the election result mean for Australian businesses planning to open their own shopping cart websites?

Australia’s focus in recent weeks has been on the looming federal election, and the various policies and promises of the party leaders. If you’re running a business or about to start one, one question that will be of particular interest to you is what will the outcome of the election mean for the mood and confidence of your potential customers? Is the time right to start a business or should you wait?

Whatever the result of the election, the sheer fact that the recent uncertainty over policy and direction will finally be over is likely to give the mood of consumers leading in to the Christmas season a bit of a boost. This is good news for merchants when combined with the fact that NAB’s recent online retail survey has shown that the estimated size of the online market in Australia is now $14.1 billion (already having exceeded the $10.79 billion level from 2012 as reported by IBISworld).

If the government changes tomorrow as many media reports are currently predicting, Australia is likely to enter a “honeymoon period” while consumers give the new government an opportunity to prove themselves. The uncertainty regarding the election has led to a lot of businesses to put off spending decisions, or defer starting a business while they wait to find out who’s going to be in charge and in what direction Australia will be heading. Removing or reducing this uncertainty can only be good news for sellers.

This potential upside is not yet reflected in the recent results from the Dun & Bradstreet Business Expectations Survey which still show continued pessimism in business confidence amongst existing retailers for the last quarter of 2013. But this pessimism is not surprising considering Australia has reached its lowest level of sales, employment and investment confidence in three years as it shows show how hard small battle-weary businesses have been doing it in Australia in the last few years. But should consumer confidence start to lift, it also shows the huge potential for retailers to capitalise on consumer buoyancy when their competitors are not. An end to the pre-election uncertainty could mean big things for smart retailers.

Only 5% of respondents to the latest survey were optimistic about increased business growth in the final quarter. The services and wholesale sectors were the least optimistic, with just 2% of respondents expecting growth.

For retailers its an ideal time to launch any previously planned sales activity to take advantage of improved buoyancy in consumer mood. If you’re thinking of starting a new business, it’s time to think seriously about taking an opportunity to get your business online, reach out to new markets and establish your own position in the market – in time for the lucrative Christmas season. But you will need to act now because:

  • The new season means warmer weather, and more buoyant attitudes as consumers come out of winter hibernation. Others will be vying for their dollar
  • With the election over the media will likely have less pessimism with fewer “he says, she says” reports and consumers will start to get on with their lives again. Even large retail chains like Harvey Norman have acknowledged that this has started to occur and that spending is on the way up
  • you definitely don’t want to miss out on the Christmas season – it’s well established that retailing in general in Australia is highly seasonal, and peaks towards Christmas. This applies both online and offline.
  • it will take time for you to prepare for the Christmas season – you will have stock to purchase and sort, it will take time to write descriptions and type your products into your website with shopping cart, and you will want time to plan your marketing approach for your online shop
  • your competitors might already be acting, and you will fall behind in a potentially growing market
  • Research shows that Australian online sales are already rising – reaching a total 12-month sales figure estimated by NAB at $14.1 billion

Online Sales are on the rise in Australia – NAB

If you’re thinking about going online, there’s every reason to be excited about Australia’s post-election future no matter what industry you are selling in. NAB’s July online retail data suggests that while Australia’s online retail market was relatively slow between January and April, it has started to grow again since May and has reached a total annual sales of $14.1 billion (in the year to July 2013) as reported by NAB.. This is higher than the $12 billion+ Australian market size reported by IBISworld in August.

Reasons to sell online

Whatever your situation, there are many reasons to be selling your products and services online. These include:

  • Reach customers in different states or different from your normal customer base
  • You can target niches that other mainstream retailers may not necessarily be interested
  • There are low overheads of selling online compared to setting up a regular store in a shopping mall – and in particular your store rent
  • Using a website with shopping cart can change your marketing strategies quickly with limited cost
  • You can take advantage of social media like the power of Facebook and Twitter
  • You can track statistics like the number of people browsing particular products, how often they buy and who is coming back and repeat buying

Good planning will make the difference to your business success

As with any business venture, if you want it to succeed, you need to do your business planning well:

  • Choose your products with a deep understanding of who your target customers are
  • Choose a niche for your particular products rather than going head to head with a well established competitor
  • Understanding who your competitors are, what their strengths and strategies are relative to yours, and who might potentially enter the market to compete with you if you succeed
  • Make the right impression with a strong, memorable brand – from logo, to service, to product strategy, to stocking strategy, to colours to product photos to shipping policies. All of these things need to be well thought out and analysed carefully
  • Planning your marketing approach. Online lowers the barriers for you to compete, but it also makes it easier for competitors to respond. So you need to plan how you will spend your marketing budget to get the most effective results. You need to understand how much effort you will put in to ranking naturally in the search engines versus online marketing.

Choosing the right shopping cart to grow

Choosing a shopping cart that helps you make the right impression with your customers without you having to spend weeks learning a design editor, get started faster and gives you the tools to grow with your business will help you do that. Ozcart for example assists in this way because:

  • Ozcart is the shopping cart pre-configured for Australia. You don’t need to figure out how to change the default currency, language, spellings and weight settings for Australia because it’s done for you. You don’t need to work out how to set the GST rate at 10% because the cart is already set up to do this. You don’t need to worry about how to integrate Australian payment methods into the cart, because Ozcart already supports a number of Australian payment gateways and shipping providers with live calculators.
  • you get the marketing and order management tools that are actually useful to growing your business – the option for your customers to leave reviews via the website or through their Facebook accounts, to log in to your store from their Facebook accounts, to tweet your new products to Twitter, and to manage stock on a per-colour/size combination basis and not just on a total stock level
  • we save you the time it would have taken to learn a design editor by setting up the overall look and feel for your brand. You just choose one of the pre-defined layouts in our collection and our graphics studio customizes the colours and the graphics of that base design to reflect your brand. It’s a simple web design process for your store, and easier for you. If you want to provide graphics yourself we can upload them for you and set the overall colour scheme to match. It’s an easy design process that saves you time.

Whatever happens in tomorrow’s election, just having a result will help end the uncertainty in Australia’s economy and create a period of potential buoyancy just in time for the Christmas spending. If you’re thinking about starting an online business, now is the time to take the plunge and get started with your online venture – or your competitors might get ahead of you.

Ready to get started? Take the Ozcart feature tour to find out more….

Ozcart Ecommerce

Ozcart has been in business since 2006 and is an online, hosted shopping cart that you can use for your current or new online store. We offer so many features for the same low price. In fact, we are addicted to adding new ones to ensure that we remain one of the best choices for a shopping cart.

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