WA Online Shoppers Leaving Local Retailers Far Behind

Two recent reports show the huge disconnect between what shoppers are doing and where local retailers are at in the online business space, especially in Western Australia.

Spending per capitaIn a nutshell:

  • WA Shoppers are Online
  • But WA Business isn’t

The recent National Australia Bank (NAB) Online Retail Sales Index July 2012 confirmed an ongoing trend of West Australian consumers leading the nation in the use online shopping.

Spending online by West Aussies grew by a staggering 34% compaerd to the previous period.

(See earlier story WA Shopping Grows at Twice the National Average)

“...Western Australia is still supporting online growth, recording 37% year-on-year per capita growth, and online sales in the state have outperformed the rest of the country,..”

– Alan Oster, Group Chief Economist, NAB


In stark and disappointing contrast to WA consumers’ love of online shopping, another report from MYOB shows that local WA businesses are still dragging their feet in getting online.

According to MYOB’s July 2012 Business Monitor Report, only 27% of local WA SMEs have a website.

Granted many of those may be single operator businesses with limited need for a full online presence. However according to the State’s Small Business Development Corporation, over 95% of businesses in the State are small businesses.

That means the majority of WA’s businesses are not taking advantage of the huge online opportunity before them.  

As such, they risk falling further and further behind as their once potential customers become more and more engaged with the digital shopping experience.

The situation is not limited to Western Australia, as it is symptomatic of the general online business situation in Australia overall. However, the disconnect between what shoppers are doing and where local businesses are at is most stark in WA.

“With Australia’s internet audience reaching 16.2 million in May 2012* it surprises me that so many business operators have not yet realised the value of having a simple website containing their contact details.” Tim Reed, MYOB CEO.


Digital Sandgropers

annual growth rate by ageNor is WA’s love of online shopping limited to the young and hip.

Interestingly the NAB results show   that the growth in online shopping in WA is high across all age groups from the under 30’s to the over 60’s.

Clearly age is not the barrier to shopping online that many people think it is.  (See Australian Online Retail: Where the Money Is)

Rather than “digital natives”, all West Australians might have to start calling themselves “digital sandgropers”.


“...the difference between growth rates was strongest for those in the 30s and 50s age groups ...” NAB


growth by age group


Post Script

Vibrant eBusiness Community

The reluctance for many WA businesses to get online is even more surprising when you consider it has a very vibrant online developer and entrepreneur community.

No better example of this was the recent Startup weekend event held in Perth to help get new digital business ideas off the ground.

Some of these entrants had their new businesses up and running over a weekend.



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