This post is by guest author, Umair Qureshi. This article has been edited and published with the author’s permission.
Australia is the 7th largest economy in the Asia-Pacific region and the 12th largest in the world. Since the last two decades, Australia has enjoyed uninterrupted economic growth, a result that is reflected in the per capita GDP of the country (the fifth highest in the world today). World Bank Group ranks Australia as the 15th easiest country to set-up and runs a business. Furthermore, the establishment process of e-commerce stores is so easy that you can set up a new business in just two days. Here, we shall focus on the process and potential hurdles of the establishment of e-commerce stores in Australia.
Establishment of an eCommerce store in Australia
For people who like to crunch numbers, here are some interesting statistics and facts pertaining to the Australian economy and eCommerce scenario in perspective:
Australia’s eCommerce sales were more than $20 billion in 2016 and, are estimated to exceed $24 billion by 2018.
Australian eCommerce customer demographics are mostly dominated by the youth with the age curve around 30 years. This means a somewhat limited market as of now. However, this also implies that there is a huge potential for growth in the upcoming years. The number of online buyers is steadily increasing. At the moment, the number of online transactions is low, but the cart size is on the rise. All these cumulatively indicate that more and more people are comfortable with online shopping.
Australia is fortunate in terms of eCommerce and online business because it has a clear-cut high demographic yield that responds well to the market. 90% of online transactions in Australia involve three or fewer brands. This can also be interpreted as brand loyalty because customers trust the brand for the quality of products/services and remain loyal to the chosen brand. Therefore, it is important that an online store should establish itself as a trustworthy brand in the market.
Now, running an eCommerce store in the competitive Australian market is not that easy. Although there are a number of platforms that streamline the process of setting up and managing online stores, you as the owner/manager should also be well versed in the relevant fields such as logistics, referencing, and customer management.
So, if you wish to launch and manage an online store in Australia, read through this blog. This blog will help you to avoid the hurdles that have the potential to sink many online stores.
The process to Follow to Establish an E-commerce Store in Australia
The success of any business is dependent on proper planning and following a well-prepared plan. Setting up an eCommerce store in Australia is a step-by-step process that requires thorough planning and attention to minute details.
I will now present several important pointers that will help you come up with proper planning and action items for your business setup process.
1. Choose Your Legal Form
Opening an online store begins with the legal recognition of the brand/store. You will have to define the legal status of your store before registering it with the relevant services such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). This authority allows a registration number to your business. You could choose any legal status you see fit. However, I recommend that you opt for being registered as a self-employed entrepreneur or a sole proprietor. It is always best to consult an expert (an accountant or a business advisor) at this point.
2. Draft a Business Plan
A business plan documents all the required details about how your store will be established and how will it function. Many people skip this important step because creating a business plan appears too cumbersome to follow. However, following this step allows you to analyze your action plan and ensures that your project is on the right track at all times.
3. Choose A Domain Name
The choice of the domain name pretty much determines the future of your eCommerce store. Plan to invest several hours in discovering the right domain name for your store. A number of online tools (like Mashable, shopify) help you in choosing the best name for your new store. Remember that your domain name has to be catchy and unique.
4. Choose Your Hosting Service
Very few people actually know how to set up and manage servers. Even if you are among the very few of such technical experts, it is still a tedious and time-consuming process for you. I recommend that you opt for managed cloud-based hosting for your online store. This way you will be able to sidestep all server related issues (including security) and focus on your business full-time.
You are definitely wondering: which hosting provider to choose for your e-commerce store? A very legitimate question indeed! Choosing the right eCommerce web host, as Cloudways helps you by providing:
● 24x7x365 chat supports so that you are able to get quick help at all times.
● A powerful stack comprising of high-performing and optimized caching technologies.
● Auto-scalability with almost zero downtime.
● Dispersed data centres to reduce latency and target your audience more effectively.
5. Create the Store
There are many platforms in the market which you can use to open an online store. Depending on your requirements and technical expertise, you can choose Woo Commerce, Magento, Prestashop, Opencart, or others. Some of these platforms offer turnkey e-commerce solutions, while others require extensive design and development skills. Other platforms request for HTML and CSS skills. A competent developer who specializes in eCommerce solutions could prove to be an ideal partner.
6. Standards and Technical Regulations
Suppliers and manufacturers have a legal and moral obligation to ensure that their products are safe for consumers to use. All products must comply with the appropriate safety standards, contain clear instructions for proper use, and include warnings about probable abuse. If a product does not meet the mandatory standards as set by Australian authorities, there is a risk of legal actions against the business.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) requires compliance with product safety, information standards, and the prohibition of dangerous goods as declared in the Trade Practices Act. The “Fair Trade Offices” also play an important role in the safety of products.
7. Finding and Dealing with Suppliers
As an eCommerce store owner, reliable suppliers should be of utmost and important priority. For this, explore your industry to discover wholesalers. Once you have the suppliers lined up, you need to set up logistics.
Many people prefer handling the supply lines through the post office. However, third-party logistics partners such as DHL are also popular business partners. Whatever your choice is, it is essential to negotiate an advantageous contract in your favour.
8. Manage the Inventory
No customer, willing to buy, likes the “Out-of-Stock” notice. To avoid this (embarrassing) situation, it is important that you pay close attention to inventory management. This is an ongoing process and requires good relationships with your suppliers and logistics partners.
Sales data analysis is an important part of inventory management. Over a period of time, you will acquire the skill of juggling between often contrasting requirements of inventory management.
9. Define (Legal) T&C and Policies
Well defined and easy to understand policies are one of the essential requirements for any eCommerce store. Many customers often check out the payment and return policies prior to finalizing their purchase decision.
In order to come up with an ethical and concrete set of terms and conditions, ask a lawyer to go through your draft of T&C and policies. He will ensure that your draft complies with the existing Australian consumer protection laws.
10. Build Your Online Presence
“You can’t just open a website and expect people to flood in. If you really want to succeed you have to create traffic.”- Joel Anderson, Walmart CEO
Once your e-commerce site/store is ready, you have to build your online presence in order to reach new customers and build rapport with them. This step demands careful planning and working with vendors and suppliers so that you could build a solid and trustworthy online presence on social media channels. This necessarily involves good digital marketing strategies that include an email campaign, a customer loyalty program, a blog on a persistent basis, and a proactive presence on multiple social networks.
Closing thoughts – Now Realize Your Dream
As I mentioned earlier in this article, Australia is the country where people are not at all stranger to online shopping. Proper planning and meticulous attention to details are the real keys to the success of your online store in Australia.