Australian retailers are keen to invest in their digital and online strategies, new findings show, but are struggling to find experienced, senior operation staff who fully understand eCommerce.
The Australian Interactive Media Industry Association has released the second edition of its AIMIA Online Retailing Insights Research study.
The annual research findings are facilitated by AIMIA in conjunction with the Australian Centre for Retail Studies at Monash University.
The report, titled Australian Retail Adoption Plans for Online Advertising and E-tailing, looks at how Australian retailers are adopting and evolving their “omni-channel” offering.
Encouragingly, 75% of all retailers – large and small – now have an online presence, and 43% are selling online. Meanwhile, 88% are advertising online, even if they don’t have a website.
For the majority of retailers, online sales are less than 5%. However, the research shows smaller retailers are recording a much higher online sales share.
The research suggests Australian retailers are eager to invest further in their online presence, but face multiple barriers to online channel entry and growth.
“This year’s research shows… growing adoption rates across the board for interactive, digital and e-tail services,” says Rob Wong, chair of the AIMIA Retail Industry Group.
“But [the research] also highlights the internal resourcing and culture barriers that are hampering more rapid successful implementation.”
According to the report, internal expertise, organisational culture, systems integration and supply chain management continue to be the biggest barriers to growth.
Retailers are also struggling to find experienced, senior operation staff who not only possess technical knowhow but understand eCommerce.
Currently, online strategy is driven primarily by senior management, with an abundance of external resources being used.
For example, 26% of retailers rely on agencies, while 31% use external technical support.
Some retailers have created a standalone unit within their organisation, according to the report, but the structure often remains within the marketing team.
However, this is starting to shift as more retailers manage their online strategy across multiple departments.
“Savvy retailers are looking to recruit multichannel directors and managers, and create cross-functional teams to grow their online business and presence,” Wong says.
With regard to retailers’ digital plans and goals for 2013 and beyond, 86% of retailers intend to increase their online budgets to further focus on driving sales – through both physical and online stores – and building operational capabilities.
According to the report, most Australian retailers have accepted e-tailing is “not going away”.
“The reality is, businesses that don’t embrace online in the next 12-24 months won’t have a business in the long run,” the report said.
“It’s not good enough just to have a presence nowadays… Consumers out there have an expectation.”
“Unless you are serious about it, they’re going to work out pretty quickly that you’re not serious about the channel and they won’t engage with you.”