SYDNEY: Online shopping will account for almost 10% of all retail sales in Australia by 2017, with omnichannel provision and fashion retailing both factors in driving this development, a new study has said.

Frost & Sullivan, the market research business, surveyed 1,000 online shoppers in Australia for its report, Australian and New Zealand Online Shopping Market 2013, and predicted that online sales as a proportion of total retail sales would rise from 7.0% in 2013 to 9.8% in four years' time.

The average annual spend online per online shopper in Australia in 2013 is expected to be $1,750, with overall online sales reaching $18.3bn.

Phil Harpur, Senior Research Manager, Australia & New Zealand ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan, attributed the growth in online retail to the greater variety and choice on offer from both local and international retailers.

He singled out the fashion industry for comment, noting that "overseas retailers such as ASOS and Macy's have been actively targeting the Australian market over the last couple of years".

One consequence of this was that local retailers had stepped up their online activity, thus "creating increased awareness amongst consumers and increased media coverage of online shopping," said Harpur.

He observed that some 45% of Australian online expenditure went to overseas-based web-sites, but added that the proportion of Australians shopping on local sites only had increased from 21% in 2011 to 29% in 2013, as large domestic retailers improved their online offer.

"Customers have become more comfortable with the online shopping process, including reduced concerns over security and higher levels of confidence in the delivery process, which helps drive growth in online shopping," Harpur stated.

The report also found that in the past year 30% of Australian adults had bought physical goods online via a smartphone and 19% via a tablet. Smartphone owners were also using their device to find nearby stores (51%) and to compare prices (38%).

Harpur said that the concept of omnichannel retail was taking hold, with online shopping seen as an integral part of the overall shopping experience.

This meant, he suggested, that online retailers could personalise the shopping experience while traditional retailers had the advantage of offering in-store pick up or the facility to buy online while in-store and with later home delivery.

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff