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How Australian Online Stores Compete with Overseas Vendors

Australians like to buy from overseas vendors, in fact, 74% of us buy overseas vs. supporting our local Australian online stores, cited a November survey of 1,000 shoppers conducted by Cashrewards. The study revealed that Australians are buying overseas due to the lower prices and a wider range of products.

Competing with the lower prices and selection provided by larger global vendors can be a challenge; that has left Australian online stores wondering if we can compete with the online presence of our overseas rivals. Is price and selection the only thing holding us back, or do our sites lack the global presence of the UK and US eCommerce giants?

As a Windows Web Hosting company serving the Gold Coast, we live and breathe Australian eCommerce, and in our opinion, the latter isn’t true. The Australian eCommerce market is strong; in fact, Australia is ranked number 10 for the best eCommerce market in the world.

The 2015 Global Retail eCommerce Index

The 2015 Global Retail eCommerce Index. Source: A.T. Kearney

The Australian eCommerce market grew 22% last year, and it is estimated that online shopping will do $10 billion in sales this year. That being said, the three most successful eCommerce websites in Australia are: eBay, Gumtree, Amazon – followed by two Australian sites – Oz Bargain and JB Hi-Fi.

5 Customer Targeting Tips for Australian Online Stores

So as an Australian online store, how do we compete with the larger overseas vendors for market share? There are five tips that we as Australian online stores can start doing today, to help target customers at home. The first two tips are no-brainers that all eCommerce websites should be doing – regardless of who they are targeting – and the last three are tips to specifically reach your local demographic.

1. Improve Website Speed

If you have an eCommerce site, you are probably well aware of the importance of website speed and the impact it can have on your business:

Not only can the performance of your site keep people on your site, but it will also help increase your chances of converting a visitor to a customer. Let’s face it, no one likes a slow site, and chances are you’ll lose a potential customer to another site if your site is too slow. To find out how long it takes your website to load, check out some of the following sites to find out and analyze your website speed:

  • Webpagetest – Tests your website speed on different browsers
  • Pingdom – Tests page load time and identifies bottlenecks
  • Google PageSpeed Insights – Analyzes web page content and makes suggestions for improvement
  • Yahoo! YSlow – Tests web speeds and suggests tools to help performance

If you have a decent amount of traffic and you are targeting a global audience, you may want to consider a content delivery network (CDN). A content delivery network (CDN) is a collection of web servers distributed across multiple locations to deliver content more efficiently to users. The server selected for delivering content to a specific user is typically based on a measure of network proximity.

With the Australian mobile eCommerce market on the rise, it is vital for Australian online stores to provide a great mobile experience.

2. Provide a Great Mobile Experience

The Australian mobile eCommerce market is on the rise, so if you don’t have a mobile responsive site, now is the time to invest in one. Currently, 79% of Australians own a smartphone, 65% of us browse online stores on our smartphones, and 42% of us have purchased via mobile – a little lower than the 49% global average. There is a huge opportunity with the 25-34 demographic, where 64% of this market has made a purchase online. This is a growing market and a huge opportunity for Australian online stores; by 2017, the mobile eCommerce market in Australia will be worth $721 million.

Make sure that your site is mobile responsive not only on all current smartphone browsers, but tablets and devices as well. Test your site to ensure that it loads properly on all devices and browsers. What’s more, ensure that a customer can make a seamless transaction via a mobile phone. If you don’t have a mobile responsive site, and your customers can’t make purchases on your site using their mobile devices, make this a priority. If budget permits, consider a mobile app; Australian mobile consumers spend about 80% of their time using smartphones apps.

3. Target Your Local Audience

If your site is up to par in terms of performance and mobile accessibility, now is the time to consider ways to engage with local consumers to keep Australian eCommerce business here, in Australia. To regain your share of the Australian eCommerce market, look for ways to connect with your local customers and leverage your locality using social media.


Tweet locally to specifically target your local customers and engage in local conversation. Search for the hashtags of people talking about your product, industry, or even the competition and join in on the conversation, engage with potential customers, and direct customers to your website.


Optimize your website with words related to your location so that your website will show up when someone does a search for related products and/or services in your area.


Depending on your advertising budget, you can invest in Facebook ads that specially target your local audience. You can also use Facebook to post about local community events that your business may participate in, local events that your company sponsors, as well as include information about what is going on at your store and/or office. These are all good ways for you to show your followers how you are engaged at a local level.


Provide your audience with content that they will find valuable. Separate your customer list based on location and send your local list a link to a blog with tailored information to their needs and locale.

Your eCommerce business must develop a plan to connect with your local customers and leverage your locality using social media.

4. Provide an Optimal Experience for Australians

Do you make your local customers feel special? If you want to take market share from the larger overseas vendors, make the experience for local customers optimal and special – this is something that the larger companies can’t always do well. Provide customers with free gift wrapping over the holidays or free shipping anytime of the year. Think of ways to provide customers with something that the other overseas vendors outside of your time zone can’t provide – for example, local, customized service. You can use Geo-tracking or GPS to locate the IP address of your visitors and provide a specific webpage targeted to your Australian visitors. You can even provide discounts and promotions for customers to “buy Australian.”

5. Location-Based Marketing

Location-based marketing uses a mobile device’s location to alert the device user of an offering from a local business. The customer will receive a message via SMS in regards to information about a promotion or incentive to buy, with a link to your website. If you have a brick and mortar location, you can push coupons to customers when they get close to your store, and in some cases, thanks to beacon technology, when they approach a product. This is a great way to target local customers with incentives and you can even use this as an opportunity to thank local customers for their loyalty to your brand. Location-based marketing can also be used to push invites out for your events. This obviously is budget dependent; however, a great way to engage with the local folk.

So there you have it, some simple steps that you can start utilizing today to compete with the larger overseas vendors and drive more local traffic to your eCommerce site. You have the opportunity to reach your customers with an optimal website and shopping experience, regardless of what device they access your eCommerce site from, and offer a customized experience that is tailored to their needs.  If you can offer your customers what they need, when they need it, from a company that is in their own backyard, then why would they need to shop from an overseas vendor?

Since 2002, StudioCoast has been helping customers find the best Australian eCommerce hosting and offering affordable web hosting packages to suit every need. If you would like more information on how StudioCoast can help your eCommerce business, and drive more traffic to your online Australian store, contact us today.

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