Shipping costs, dinosaurs feature in e-tail survey

Australian consumers are discouraged from buying online more by the high shipping costs associated with goods rather than credit card security, the report into online retailing has found.

The survey showed that high shipping costs contributed to 40 per cent of respondents being put off. This was ahead of credit card security, at 36 per cent, but behind the number one turn off -- personal sizing (which relates to apparel). The finding contrasts with last year's results in which security ranked at the top, with 50 per cent, and shipping a low 13 per cent.

The survey polled just under 1000 people between October and November last year. According to Steve Ferguson, a partner in Ernst & Young retail and consumer products and co-author of the report, the results from the survey indicate that online retailing overall had a strong future in Australia. "It has good growth prospects," he said.

This is largely due to what Mark Runnalls, the report's other co-author, described as the "emergence of the dot dino" - which was his description for the return of the bricks and mortar retailers. In fact, when it came to the leading Australian e-tailers, apart from dstore and Wishlist, the field was populated by existing retailers including Myer Direct, Dymocks Booksellers, David Jones and Harvey Norman.

However, above all the concerns consumers may have, Ferguson said there was one issue which would determine success - brand. "Brand is what matters," he said. "People will look for brand [e-tailers] when they buy."

The report also included the survey of 133 retailers - which included a mix of traditional, pure play and wholesalers. What may not be very encouraging to consumers is the comments by 74 per cent of retailers which said they did not offer better prices on the Web. Even more surprising was that eight per cent said they offered higher prices over the Web than in their stores.

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Howard Dahdah

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