Ecommerce on the rise, but Aussies think of a store as a physical space

Shaun Broughton, Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Shopify

Shopify Inc has released a survey finding brand discovery mostly happens online.

The Shopify survey found that almost half (47%) of Australian shoppers claim to primarily discover brands through online search and websites, and one in 10 via social media. 

‘This is a store’ survey unveiled that websites and social media beat traditional advertising and television as influential channels to shopping decisions with websites as the most influential.

This is a store survey by Shopify Inc

Overwhelmingly, 83% of shoppers believe all brands should sell online or have an online store, while 7% say it only matters if the online experience is better than the in-store experience.

With ongoing lockdown restrictions across Australia, online shopping habits are set to grow and evolve as consumers once again turn to online shopping channels to make purchases.

States have reached new peaks as NSW saw growth of 36% in online purchases during the lockdowns compared to the same period in 2020 and similarly, 38% growth in Victoria.

As major retailers face the tightest restrictions since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Australia has seen shoppers purchase more online across all categories

However, even with changing consumer behaviour and increased participation in online shopping, Australians have yet to broaden their view of categorically defining a store.

77% of respondents think of a physical store when they think of shopping. Those aged over 55 are more likely than those aged 18-24 to think of shopping as going to a physical store.

Executive commentary on the Shopify survey

Shaun Broughton the APAC Managing Director of Shopify expressed cautious optimism.

“It is time for Australians to reimagine retail as the global COVID-19 pandemic has enabled major shifts in the way brands and consumers interact and changed the industry forever.” 

“Australians have not yet broadened individual views of what a store is defined to be. A store is Instagram. A store is Pinterest. A store is both online and a physical space,” said Shaun.

“Australians shop on many platforms but still perceive a store as bricks and mortar.”

“As shopping trends continue to evolve in Australia because of macro circumstances and technology advancement, this perception is also highly expected to shift over time.”

When asked about the biggest deterrent from shopping with a brand online, 18% of them said they fear the unknown and uncertainty around what the product is like in real life.

Respondents also identified deterrents like bad online reviews (16%), lack of competitive pricing (14%), shipping costs and inconvenience (12%) and a lack of security (12%).

“Brands therefore are required to emulate a physical store experience as much as possible online, to give reassurance to customers unsure about online shopping,” Shaun continued.

“Reimagining the shopping experience and adopting omnichannel approaches ensures customers get certainty and convenience offered in-store no matter where or how they shop.”

“We’ve seen local merchants like Go To Skin do this successfully, by adopting new platforms and placing no limits on the way they deliver shopping experiences in this evolving space.” 

More key findings from the Shopify survey

44% of the survey respondents aged between 18 years and 24 years said that they make shopping decisions sometimes or regularly as a result of product influencers.

Women are two thirds more likely than men to discover a brand via social media.

The survey furtherstill discovered that when it comes to engaging in online shopping using social media, 27% would do so if there’s a special product promotion attached.

Two in five (19%) look for shopping features such as tagging prices on posts or in-platform purchase features and 15% likely to do so if there’s a sponsored post or advertisement.

Australians are reluctant to engage with social media influencers for online shopping, with 68% of people rarely or never make purchasing decisions because of influencers.