Season of gift giving just a few clicks away

More and more Australians are shopping online from the comfort of their own home instead of heading to the shops during the busiest time of year.

It may be hard to believe but the season of gift giving is closing in, with only 104 days to go until Christmas. 

Whether you need to get the menu sorted for a festive feast, update your wardrobe for the party season, pick out gifts for loved ones, or just have an endless shopping list for the upcoming retail sales, preparation is key.

No matter how late shops stay open in the lead up to December, many of us feel pressed for time when it comes to finding all the items on our list. 

But it’s possible to avoid running around the high street with heavy, overflowing bags during the busiest time of the year.

More and more Australians are making their purchases online from the comfort of their own home and beating the mad rush in stores.

A growing trend

Australia's online shopping population is booming. Research from ABS found that 76 per cent of Australia’s internet users made a purchase over the internet during 2012-13. 

Latest data from Roy Morgan Research also shows that online shopping continued its steady climb in 2014, with almost 40 per cent of all Aussies buying one or more product online in an average four-week period.

This trend is only set to grow with e-commerce sales in Australia expected to increase 14.4 per cent this year to cross $10 billion. 

This shift in consumers’ habits and the rise of connected shopping has had a very real flow-on effect on traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers, with more and more improving their websites and online experiences to cater to the growing need.

Top selling items

Now that we know more Aussies are purchasing online, Roy Morgan also investigated our shopping habits and found: 

  • Entertainment and leisure was the most popular category when it came to online shopping in 2014 with over 3.3 million purchases

  • The second most popular category was reading materials with just over two million purchases

  • The food and beverage category saw a big jump in online shoppers with over 1.5 million purchases

  • Other items that featured in most popular online shopping product categories include electronics, travel products, health & beauty, fashion accessories and automotives.
 
Tips to take the stress out of shopping

There’s nothing worse than picking out the perfect present for a loved one days or months in advance, only to have it out of stock come December. 

Planning is crucial and these tips can take a lot of stress out of the last-minute rush, online and in stores:

  • Make a list: Know who you’re buying for and lock down a list now. This will help inform your budget and keep you on track come shopping day. A number of efficiency tools are available online to make this easy. Try Trello, Google to-do list, or simply your smartphone reminder feature to create and manage lists.

  • Fix a budget: While this seems like a no-brainer, it’s surprising how many people overspend and end up with a post-Christmas credit card shock. Distribute your budget among the people you have on your list, and have a small buffer for last-minute changes.

    This should start as early as possible, preferably around mid-September. A number of personal finance tools and budget trackers are available online to take the stress out of the process. Try Mint, SavvyMoney, GnuCash or start an excel sheet.
  • Watch out for sales: Most retailers have end-of-season sales around the October-November timeframe so keep an eye out. It pays to get on the loyalty programmes of leading retailers (most are free) as they send out emails and brochures inviting members to exclusive events and “secret sales.

    Online shoppers can look forward to Cyber Monday (Australia’s version of Black Friday) when companies offer massive discounts online. It’s advisable to log in early on the day to avoid peak traffic and potential server meltdowns. Cyber Monday is scheduled for November 30 this year.

  • Laybys: Many retailers offer layby services that allow you to pay a small deposit to secure an item for purchase later. This can help avoid the disappointment of missing out on your favourite items later.

  • Shop now: Not everything needs to wait for sales. Party decorations, gift wrapping material, non-perishable food items (preserves and jams) can be bought and stored in advance.

    Look online for discounts before you head into stores. If you do this in advance, you might be able to secure these products for a better price from overseas online retailers.
Getting Australia ready for the future of online retail

As more and more retailers choose to take their businesses online, it is important that Australia’s internet infrastructure grows with it. 

Access to fast broadband will not only help more Australians make shopping easier, it will also ensure our businesses, even those in remote areas, can sell their goods online and reach larger audiences. 

This growing choice of online retailers is also great for those of us in-charge of the shopping at any time!

Check your address to see when you and your family could be connecting to the nbn™ network.