Ebay is by far the most frequented shopping website by Australian consumers but the growing popularity of shopping forum OzBargain shows the “power” is now truly in the hands of shoppers, according to one online retail expert.
According to a study by Roy Morgan Research, more than 7.8 million Australian shoppers aged 14 and older visited eBay in an average four-week period between July 2015 and June 2016.
This compares to close to 3.8 million Australians who visited Amazon in an average four weeks in the same period.
Recently-listed retailer Kogan.com is the third most frequented shopping site, according to the research, with 1.35 million visitors in an a four-week period, followed by Groupon (1.32 million), Scoopon (977,000) and CatchOfTheDay (971,000).
In seventh place on the list of most visited shopping websites is OzBargain, a community-based forum dedicated to finding the best bargains on offer.
OzBargain allows shoppers to share and vote on offers and promotions from retailers, while merchants are also allowed to list their deals on the site.
The site is attracting 948,000 monthly visitors, according to the Roy Morgan research, which is 2.5 times the number of visitors it was attracting four years ago in 2012.
Why shoppers are attracted to online forums
OzBargain does not sell products directly but is instead a marketplace for opinions and reviews by shoppers themselves.
Paul Greenberg, executive chairman and founder of the National Online Retail Association, told SmartCompany it’s not surprising to see the likes of eBay and Amazon at the top of the Roy Morgan list as those sites are the online equivalents of shopping centres, which naturally attract more traffic than a single store.
But Greenberg believes the increasingly popularity of forum-style sites such as OzBargain demonstrates the “shopper is in control”.
“Customers trust other customers,” he says.
“Forums and social media have never been more important.”
Greenberg is also the co-founder of DealsDirect.com.au and has worked with OzBargain in the past. He says Australians shoppers are increasingly savvy when it comes to shopping online and this is important given the fragmented nature of online retail.
“There are a lot of big unknowns out there,” he says.
“[Consumers] hunt in a pack, they like to shop together.”
Who’s winning in the online retail game
According to Roy Morgan, approximately 8.3 million Australians are now making a purchase online in an average four weeks, which represents an increase of 37% on 2012 levels.
However, Roy Morgan Research chief executive Michele Levine said in a statement eBay and Amazon increased their unique monthly audience by 5% and 17% respectively over the same period, which indicates established players in the market are not seeing the growth in their audiences match overall sector growth.
While Greenberg says there has been considerable consolidation among group-buying sites in the market during that period, the “real beneficiaries” of the rise of online shopping in Australia has been the big retailers, such as Myer and Super Retail Group.
“The real winners of the online retail boom are the big boys … they’ve got with the program,” he says.
“It’s taken them awhile but they are all there and all winning.”
Greenberg says it is becoming clear that Australian shoppers like “multiple touchpoints” with brands and retailers that have both online and bricks-and-mortar operations are benefiting from this trend.
“We’re even seeing some of the younger [online] retailers like Mon Purse and Shoes of Prey opening physical stores,” he says.
The most frequented shopping websites, according to Roy Morgan:
|Shopping website||Number of Australian visitors in average four-week period|
|1. eBay||7.814 million|
|2. Amazon||3.782 million|
|3. Kogan.com||1.353 million|
|4. Groupon||1.321 million|
|15. Google Shopping||269,000|