Super Consumers are here to save the dot coms: KPMG

The report, "Australia Goes On-Line", is produced by the KPMG Centre for Consumer Behaviour and confirms a 60 per cent increase in the numbers of Australians shopping online in the 6 months to March 2000. From a base figure of 48 per cent of the population who have accessed the web, KPMG's research shows increases in numbers of people researching material online, as well as those shifting their shopping from "physical" stores to those that exist online. "Internet shopping will be a serious threat to bricks and mortar retailing very soon", according to KPMG Centre for Consumer Behaviour Research Director, Brent Taylor, though he added that "No retail categories are currently under threat from the Internet".

Taylor said that it is growth in the rate of uptake that is of concern for bricks and mortar retailers, with conditions right for a substantial increase in this growth. "In the right environment, maximum penetration could be reached by 2005," said Taylor.

With barriers to e-trading removed, growth rates would increase according to KPMG, with guaranteed security on financial transactions, guaranteed privacy, no delivery problems, cheap access, ease of setting up and use of services seen as the primary barriers.

KPMG also identified so-called "Super Consumers" as the internet economy's best customers up to now. This group, who make up 25 per cent of the population, so identified because they account for 50 per cent of discretionary spending, also spending more per head than any other group. According to Taylor, they are the e-tailers best friend at the moment because they "Are connected to the net, and if they are not e-shoppers already, they will become so very quickly."

"Every business needs a consumer focussed retail strategy. Business must decide who their market is. With that consumer focus in mind they then need a property-based retail strategy, and an e-strategy," continued Taylor, concluding that "Succeeding in the current retail environment is not just about being a 'dot com.' It's as much about the value of conventional business."

KPMG's report is available on their web site

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