The study of eBay's top 3,000 Australian sellers by sales volume, revealed that, buoyed by significant 2011 growth, nearly two-thirds (63%) of eBay's largest businesses are optimistic about the year ahead.
In 2012, 387 sellers with annual sales ranging from $66,945 to $4.7 million responded to the survey, conducted by market researchers Stokes Mischewski between 20 December 2011 and 11 January 2012.
According to the study, 72 per cent of eBay sellers said mobile commerce would play an important role in their business strategy in 2012, although 17 per cent of them revealed that they don't know how to invest in mobile commerce.
In other key findings, the OBI reveals that 40 per cent of Australia eBay sellers said they lacked the knowledge to make informed mobile investments, while also indicating that slow mobile internet speeds (28%), unreliable coverage (24%) and the high cost of mobile internet access (21%) were all major barriers to growing mobile commerce business.
While the top 2,000 sellers grew revenue by 45 per cent, and the top 3,000 sellers increased staff by 20 per cent from the previous year, almost 160 Australian businesses topped $1 million in 2011 eBay sales, up 31 per cent from the previous year.
According to Deborah Sharkey, eBay vice president, the research also revealed that Australian businesses were keen to tap into the 'explosive growth in mobile commerce', but are handicapped by a lack of knowledge and infrastructure to effectively reach mobile consumers.
Sharkey said that, with more and more Australians using their mobile to research, shop and browse, seven out of 10 (72%) top 3,000 eBay sellers said mobile commerce would play an important role in their business strategy in 2012. 'While the majority of eBay sellers recognise the growth potential of mobile, one out of six (17%) said they don't know how they'll invest in mobile commerce while 40 per cent said they lack the knowledge to make informed mobile investments,' Sharkey said.
'Retailers on eBay were some of the first to recognise the growth opportunities of online retail and have continued to innovate, adapt and integrate multi-channel business models to stay ahead of their competitors.'
'In 2012, ecommerce and increasingly mobile commerce will continue to drive retail growth. There is great opportunity for Australian businesses to invest in innovative mobile solutions to reach the new mobile consumer,' Sharkey concluded.
Previous eBay research found that over four million Australian smartphone owners used their mobiles to compare prices before purchasing, and 37 per cent who researched a product using their mobile did so while looking at the product in a physical store.
According to the executive director for the Australian Retailers Association, Russell Zimmerman, good retailers are innovating towards offering a multi-channel shopping experience to their new and existing customers.
'The OBI is an essential indicator of the challenges in educating business owners about the incredible opportunities available in the online space. While having a presence in the ecommerce and mobile market is a growth opportunity in itself, it's also a necessity to ensure the shopping experience is seamless and integrated across the many channels Australians are now conducting their business,' Zimmerman added.
Retail growth isn't without its challenges, however, and the OBI reveals that the pressure from manufacturers and suppliers continues, with one-third (34%) of respondents to the survey reporting some suppliers tried to prevent them from selling products online, similar to the result in 2011 (35%).
In addition, international competition (60%), the state of the global economy (56%) and postage costs (55%) were cited as the biggest challenges that will impact respondents' growth.