eCommerce & Technology

Overview - A Booming eCommerce Market

In 2016 Australians spent approximately USD 16.3 billion (AUD 22 billion) on online purchases. This equates to about seven percent of spending in bricks and mortar stores. It is predicted to grow at an annual rate of nine percent to reach USD 20.7 billion (AUD 28 billion) by 2022. Leading Australian eCommerce platforms include eBay, Gumtree, and Catch of the Day. Leading Australian etailers include JB HiFi, Kogan, SurfStich, the Iconic and Appliances Online.

The Amazon and Alibaba platforms are significant eCommerce operators in this market.  In 2016, Amazon and Alibaba both announced plans to set-up fulfillment centers in Australia to service Australia and New Zealand. (In March, 2017 Alibaba opened its warehouse in Melbourne, Australia.) This will provided significant competition to the local leading eCommerce platforms and etailers.

Domestic eCommerce (B2C)

Over 40% of all B2C transactions take place on eCommerce platforms such as eBay, Amazon (USA), and Gumtree. The remainder of B2C eCommerce takes place at the individual company website. With over 13 million active Facebook users in Australia, social media is also a big driver in the promotion of B2C transactions. Retailers are driving sales through a mix of shop and online promotions or “multi-channel”. The finance industry is a major driver with the large four Australian banks providing a range of cutting-edge tools for accessing accounts, and paying bills and making mobile transactions. B2B sales are somewhat more fragmented with less reliance on eCommerce platforms for trading.

Cross-Border eCommerce

In 2016, about 70 percent of Australian digital consumers purchased products from overseas buyers in the U.S. (40% of shoppers), China (32%), and U.K. (22%). These purchases are generally made due to increased product offerings from overseas suppliers and cheaper prices. Another significant driver is the present Goods and Sales Tax (GST) of around USD 742 (AUD 1,000) which means that imported products with a value of less than around USD 742 (AUD 1,000) enter Australia GST free. Australian retailers on the hand are obliged to charge a GST of 10 percent of the value of any consumer good. However, it does seem that the majority of online shoppers prefer to buy from local etailers. The recent NAB Online Retail Sales Index suggests that of overall spending, international sales account for 20% share. The largest two market segments for international shopping are fashion items (34 % sourced from international sellers) and electronic products and toys (50% from international sellers).

eCommerce Shipping Services

Major fulfillment service providers in the local market include Australia Post, DHL, FedEx, TNT, Toll Pack and Send and Fastway.

eCommerce Intellectual Property Rights

Over 10 years ago Australia and the U.S. entered into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Chapter 17 of the FTA deals with intellectual property rights, including:

  • commitments to reduce differences in law and practice and participate in international harmonization efforts with respect to trademarks (article 17.2.11)
  • an increase in the duration of copyright protection, for individuals to the life of the author, plus 70 years (currently 50 years), with similar increases for corporations (17.4.4)
  • strengthened protection and remedies against the circumvention of technological measures used by authors and others to restrict access to their work (17.4.7), such as coding of CDs to restrict how and where they might be used
  • protection of encrypted program-carrying satellite signals, thereby extending the present regime to include foreign and other transmissions not now covered by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (17.7) and to criminalize end-users of unauthorized decryptions, and
  • additional remedies for copyright infringements.

AUSFTA included provisions to enhance the ability of patent owners to prohibit international exhaustion of patent rights. This refers to article 17.9.4, which reads:

Each Party shall provide that the exclusive right of the patent owner to prevent importation of a patented product, or a product that results from a patented process, without the consent of the patent owner shall not be limited by the sale or distribution of that product outside its territory at least where the patentee has placed restrictions on import by contract or other means.

Online Payment

Popular eCommerce sites in Australia include Ebay, Gumtree, Amazon, Catch of the Day, Kogan, JB HiFi, The Iconic, Temple & Webster, Appliances Online, and Amazon (USA).

Mobile eCommerce

Mobile eCommerce represents a significant opportunity in the local market. With mobile penetration at close to 100 percent, mobile payments and purchasing is a major strategy for all etailers. Australians are expected to increase their spending on mobile devices by 50% this year to USD 7.7 billion (AUD 10.4 billion).

Digital Marketing

The fastest growing segments in the Australian online advertising market are mobile and online video, and both are expected to outperform the market significantly over the next five years. Mobile advertising, for example, is forecast to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 39 per cent between 2013 and 2018, while video advertising is expected to grow at 31 per cent.

According to a recent survey, less than one-third of retailers rate their eCommerce/digital strategy highly as best practice and key to driving sales. Nonetheless, around half of retailers consider their eCommerce/digital strategy as moderately in line with best practice and a driver of sales.

On average, retailers report that 53% of their advertising budget is allocated to online media. 42% of retailers also report that this advertising budget allocation is expected to change in the next 12 months.

Major Buying Holidays

Christmas is a big driver for online sales, as well as Boxing Day (December 26), Easter, Mother’s Day (second Sunday of May each year), Father’s Day (first Sunday in September each year), Valentine’s Day and Click Frenzy (set up to mimic Cyber Monday).

Social Media

Social media is an important part of online advertising in the local market. Most companies see social media as a method for increasing brand awareness, advertising and promotions and generating sales. With over 13 million users, Facebook and YouTube are the two most used mediums for product promotion. Other leading sites include WordPress, Tumblr, LinkedIn, BlogSpot, Twitter, Instagram, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Snapchat and Pinterest.


Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

Most Popular Social Network:

Facebook (15M)

Most Popular Payment Method:

Credit cards (70%)

eCommerce Volume:

$16.3 billion

Largest eCommerce Website: