Aussie Retailers Need to Prep Up Online Stores for Christmas Shopping Surge

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By Erik Pineda | November 14, 2012 3:45 PM EST

Australian retailers better be prepared with the influx of shoppers in the lead-up to the holiday season and its best that they configure their online stores to accommodate the expected traffic surge in Q4 2012, a new report said.

Now is the time, Google Australia said, for retail players to prep up their online presence and make sure that visitors using their computers and mobile devices get what they're looking en route to sealed transactions.

"I don't think Australian businesses have realised how central mobile has become to Australian shopping - we have some of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world," Google Australia retail chief Ross Noble told SmartCompany on Wednesday.

In a new study that Google jointly-conducted with PayPal, Mr Noble said close to 70 per cent of Australia-based retailers have yet to optimise their online stores for shoppers that use smartphones and tablet computers either for researching on products they plan to buy or for outright purchases.

Since last year, "what we see is ... a growth of 20 per cent ... for shopping related searches and mobile devices searches," said Ross McDonald, Google's head for local and retail operations.

The surge, Mr McDonald said, is mostly attributed to the rising number of smartphones and tablets that have been activated so far and actively employed by Australians in almost everything they do, with Google adding that from October to December 2012 alone, some one million mobile devices will be powered on for online activities.

"That means there will be more and more Australians using them to make decisions on what they're going to buy for Christmas," the Google official was quoted by the Australian Associated Press (AAP) as saying on Wednesday.

And directly connected to that trend, the Google report said, is the new finding that showed nine out of ten Aussies conduct online searches for the products that interest them and end up making the purchase.

It also indicated that mobile communication tools will play crucial roles in ramping up the projected sales of retailers who made efforts to adjust their online presence for optimum results, Mr Noble said.

"Mobile was hitting about 30 per cent of our search query base, but the number of searches we're getting on mobiles double every year ... By the time we get to Christmas it could even be close to half of all searches," he further explained.

Breaking down the technology-driven shopping habits of local shoppers, Google said 47 per cent regard the smartphone as their foremost online shopping tool while another 25 per cent prefer tablet shopping or research.

Successfully appreciating this data and fine-tuning their operations would significantly boost retailers' chances of getting sizeable slice from the estimated $5.6 billion that Australian online shoppers are set to spend using their mobile gadgets by the end of 2102, PayPal said on its Secure Insight report.

This PayPal forecast, according to SmartCompany, reflects a giant leapfrog from the measly $155 million that then nascent mobile commerce had generated in 2010.

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