Aussie eCommerce snapshot: study reveals millennials are the biggest online shoppers but older generations are not far behind

The third annual Global Online Shopping Study from Pitney Bowes identifies Australia as a global leader in online shopping.

SYDNEY, Australia, October 2016…Pitney Bowes (NYSE: PBI) has announced the results of its third annual Global Online Shopping Study, revealing Australian millennials (aged 25 to 34) are driving online shopping, with the largest percentage of online shoppers (96 per cent). Surprisingly, the results revealed older generations are not far behind, with 92 per cent of respondents aged between 35 and 44 years indicating they have shopped online, followed closely by 45 to 54 year olds (87 per cent) and over 55 year olds (81 per cent).


Australian millennials aren’t just leading the way in local online shopping. Overall, the results reveal that Australia is a global leader when it comes to ‘cross border’ online shopping – shopping from an online store based outside Australia. Second only to Singapore (89 per cent), the majority of Australians now shop cross-border (86 per cent), compared to the likes of the United States, where just 45 per cent of respondents indicated they have taken part in ‘cross-border’ shopping online.


The Study also revealed 90 per cent of Australian millennials have shopped ‘cross border’. Similarly, older generations are close behind, with 89 per cent of respondents aged between 35-44 indicating they have also shopped cross border; 84 per cent of those 45 to 54 year olds and 82 per cent of those aged over 55.


Conducted by ORC International, the 2016 Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study surveyed approximately 13,000 adults across 13 countries regarding their perceptions, habits and preferences for making online purchases. A snapshot of key Australian retail trends is outlined below.


Changing the way the world shops

The survey findings suggest online shopping has become a way of life for Australian shoppers. Almost half of the Australian respondents (47 per cent) now say they make domestic online purchases on a monthly basis, and close to one-fifth of Australians (17 per cent) make daily/weekly purchases online. However, Australians still prefer to make frequent purchases locally, with just 8 per cent of Australian shoppers choosing to shop cross-border on a daily/weekly basis.


What also drives cross-border shopping is the mutually-beneficial union between physical stores and online platforms. Globally, 63 per cent of surveyed cross-border shoppers make in-store purchases during their international travels and then follow up with online purchases from that same cross-border retailer at home. This presents a huge opportunity for Australian retailers and brands, with recent figures from AusTrade revealing more than 7 million international travellers visited Australia within the 2015/2016 financial year.


In addition, findings uncovered that almost half of the Australian respondents make in-store purchases during their international travels and follow up with online purchases from that same cross-border retailer. The top three reasons they cite for making a cross border online purchase include price, selection and quality.


Conversely, 72 per cent of Australians claim shipping costs to be the main deterrent stopping them from shopping cross border, along with a lack of trust in online international retailers. In line with this, 74 per cent of Australian respondents still rank Australia as the safest online shopping option, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom.


Shopping here, there and everywhere

Today’s consumers are empowered by choice. They have the option of shopping from a retailer website or an online marketplace and the study shows they like it that way.


Compared to a global average of 24 per cent, almost half of Australian consumers (43 per cent) favour individual retailers over marketplaces when making domestic online purchases, citing brand loyalty, trust and personalisation as the top reasons for staying true to Australian online retailers. When it comes to making an online purchase outside of Australia, the playing field is more equal, with 33 per cent choosing online retailers, compared to 34 per cent who prefer online marketplaces. This suggests retailers should consider a broad presence and multiple channels to reach global shoppers.


Pitney Bowes Vice President and Managing Director for Asia Pacific Software Solutions and Global eCommerce, David Hope said,  “The 2016 Global Online Shopping Study highlights the transition towards new behaviours and trends for Australian shoppers and retailers. As we enter into the peak holiday season, retailers and marketplaces alike should be looking for ways to capitalise on the shifts in consumer behaviour that are inevitably opening up new opportunities for brands and retailers on both a local and international level.”


Shopping in the mobile age

Throughout the shopping journey, mobile devices are playing an increasingly pivotal role. More than a third of Australian consumers (36 per cent) indicated they are likely to use a mobile device (including tablets and phones) when browsing for products locally online. When it comes to purchasing, 29 per cent of surveyed Australians use their mobile device.


Results also uncovered new insight into how consumers are finding products domestically online. Shoppers in Australia are likely to choose search engines (52 per cent) and online retailers (52 per cent) equally. Other popular discovery tools include email messages (24 per cent) and online marketplaces (41 per cent).


Getting the basics right still matters

The need for choice was also evident with regard to payment types. For preferred payments selection for international purchases, over half the Australian respondents (56 per cent) choose e-wallet options over credit card payments (29 per cent), which allow multiple payment accounts to be stored in one place. Breadth of choice again proved to be a crucial theme, as limiting options for payment alienates a significant number of would-be consumers. When asked about the most important factors in selecting a payment option, Australian consumers cited service fees/total cost of purchase (31 per cent), offer of a purchase protection plan (32 per cent) and value of the purchase (24 per cent), as the most important considerations.


Online shipping and returns continue to be a major pain point for consumers. When asked about holiday shopping, one third (32 per cent) of Australian consumers say they experienced related challenges when shopping online for the 2015 holiday season. Basic elements of the customer experience such as shipping the right item; accuracy in address and tracking; a transparent returns policy; and proper duty and tax were all cited as challenges.


Hong Kong (65 per cent), India (59 per cent), South Korea (55 per cent), Singapore and China (both 54 per cent) were among the countries that experienced the greatest headaches with online shopping during the 2015 holiday season. Although Australia fares well in comparison to some global counterparts (32 per cent), the pressure is on retailers and marketplaces to make significant improvements in the consumer experience heading into this holiday.  


About Pitney Bowes

Pitney Bowes (NYSE: PBI), is a global technology company powering billions of transactions – physical and digital – in the connected and borderless world of commerce. Clients around the world, including 90 percent of the Fortune 500, rely on products, solutions and services from Pitney Bowes in the areas of customer information management, location intelligence, customer engagement, shipping, mailing, and global ecommerce.  And with the innovative Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud, clients can access the broad range of Pitney Bowes solutions, analytics, and APIs to drive commerce.  For additional information visit Pitney Bowes, the Craftsmen of Commerce, at

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Kara Billsborough

Burson-Marsteller, on behalf of Pitney Bowes

0431 269 291