Australian ecommerce is enjoying a $4 billion boom during the pandemic – and online small businesses are reaping the rewards

Online shopping is helping keep Australian businesses afloat. (Neil Godwin, Future Publishing via Getty Images)

While the last few months have battered businesses, many that made the leap of faith online have been duly rewarded.

As owners were forced to shutter stores in March, a wave of businesses were pushed online to continue operating.

Those that did have enjoyed an eCommerce boom that has helped grow online revenue for small businesses by between $105,000 and $708,000 on average, according to new Deloitte research commissioned by Australia Post.

“We have seen eCommerce accelerate through this pandemic, with Australia Post providing a valuable lifeline to many businesses, as our people work tirelessly to help deliver the additional $4.2 billion in online spending activity,” Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate said.

“Australians are embracing home delivery in record numbers and this analysis shows that over the next 12 months home delivery is expected to remain 25% higher than pre-COVID levels.”

While Holgate acknowledged it remains “a significant challenge” to remain on top of demand, the growth has helped soften the impact of Australia’s recession.

According to Deloitte’s analysis, around three in four businesses with an online arm managed to retain staff, as revenues fell on average by 7% despite in-store sales falling by more than 20%.

“By focusing on the opportunities of eCommerce, businesses say they have been able to protect not only their bottom line, but the livelihoods of millions of Australians who rely on our business sector for employment,” Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement.

With the Christmas shopping season fast-approaching, and eCommerce projected to continue replacing in-store purchases, the trend is here to stay, according to Deloitte.

“COVID-19 has changed the way Australians shop with an estimated 45% of purchases set to be completed online in the future,” Deloitte partner John O’Mahony said.

Victoria may be the last state now exiting lockdown after a few very long months, but O’Mahony maintains it’s an important consideration ahead of what most businesses expect to be a very difficult year.

“Business looking to set themselves up for long-term success should look to increase digitisation, improve their supply chain resilience, and redesign their business strategy,” he said.

In fact, it’s even a lesson the country’s drug dealers have heeded.