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Wednesday, 16 November 2011 05:02

SMEs missing out on social network marketing opportunities

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There are some 8.6m Australians using social networks but only 18 percent of Internet connected SMEs in Australia use some form of social media in their business operations.

The finding comes from a new ACMA report on eCommerce in Australia. Underlining the importance of social networking, it found also that information obtained from social networking sites convinced 169,000 Australians to buy a good or service during June 2011.

Approximately 62 percent of adult Internet users in Australia purchased goods and services online in the six months to April 2011, with convenience and price the main drivers of online shopping, the ACMA found.

"While Australians undertake a variety of activities via the Internet, growth in online transacting (banking, bill payment and purchasing) is at the core of the emerging online service market," said ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman.

Despite the huge popularity of smartphones (Australia is said to have the highest per capita penetration in the world) few people are using them to make online purchases. According to the ACMA report only four percent of online purchases used mobiles in June 2011, and 97 percent used their PC.

The ACMA found m-Commerce to be much more about online banking than online shopping. Nineteen percent of Internet-capable handset owners used them to conduct banking transactions in June 2011 and nine percent to pay bills.

Of goods and services purchased online during June travel was the most popular category (60 percent of online shoppers) followed - somewhat surprisingly given the uncertainties - by clothes, shoes and personal items including cosmetics (53 percent). Ticketing for events, movies etc came in joint second with 53 percent also, followed by books, magazines and newspapers at 46 percent

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What was once touted as the big thing for online shopping - groceries and food - was the least popular with just 17 percent of online purchasers buying in this category.

The report also found a growing trend to purchase from offshore web sites.  The proportion of adult online shoppers mainly purchasing from Australian websites declined from 68 percent in the six months to November 2009 to 53 percent in the six months to April 2011.

The ACMA said also that 48 percent of Australians purchasing online in the six months to April 2011 did so equally or more from overseas sites compared to 31 percent in the six months to November 2009 and 19 percent mostly purchased from overseas sites, up from 12 percent in the six months to November 2009.

The report, 'E-commerce Marketplace in Australia: Online Shopping'
is the first of three that the ACMA plans to release before the end of the year. The others will be: 'Converging communications channels: Preferences and behaviours of Australian communication users' and 'The emerging mobile telecommunications market in Australia.'

 It is also due to release the annual ACMA Communications report 2010-11 (not to be confused with the ACMA's Annual Report for 2010-2011 released last month that reports on its internal operations, not on the industry).

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