Warehouses are filling up, last minute development requests are lodged and annual leave has gone into lockdown… It’s less than three months until Christmas!

As a retailer, you’re excited at the prospect of your most lucrative season or full of dread as you face the unknown. If you are in the latter camp, I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that some trends will continue. eCommerce retail share is less than 10% but continues to steal share of the retail pie. Mobile dominates screen time and is almost the dominant transaction device. Australians continue to love their marketplaces. Fulfilment in Australia remains tricky. Plan well.

Now, the bad news for those who haven’t been paying attention. There’s been big changes in the Australian eCommerce landscape over the last year. You may need to adjust your strategy for a successful Christmas. But… the good news is, you still have time to respond.

So what has changed for eCommerce retailers this Christmas?

1. Amazon has levelled up

This time last year, the retail world was in meltdown over the imminent invasion of Amazon. But they turned up as a gift carrying aunty rather than a drunk uncle. Don’t get complacent, they are growing rather than invading.

Amazon Prime in Australia

Amazon launched Prime to Australian customers in 2018. Source: amazon.com.au

Since last Christmas, Amazon have quadrupled their product range. They have branched into eight more categories, taking the category count to 26. They launched their Prime membership for Australian customers. They now offer their own fulfilment service. And they found their way into Australian homes via a myriad of Alexa devices. 2018 Amazon is very different to 2017 Amazon. But it’s not all doom and gloom…

2. Internationals have been brought back to the field


On July 1 the Australian government introduced GST on imported “low value” goods of less than $1,000. This impacts foreign eCommerce stores, Australian drop shippers and Australian-based international marketplaces. Think eBay, ASOS and Kogan… and Amazon.

International vs Domestic Spend in Australia

20% of Australian eCommerce spend was international in 2017. Source: NAB Online Sales Index – Dec 2017 (PDF)

Most retailers changed their systems to apply GST and comply. Amazon responded by geo-blocking their international site. This forced Australians down the inferior com.au offering. Whether this change has a material impact on Amazon’s local adoption is a guarded secret. Likewise, the GST impact on international eCommerce competition is not yet quantified. But in theory, it is a more level playing field this Christmas for Australian retailers.

3. Afterpay continues to soar

The “buy now, pay later” domination continues by Afterpay. In 2018 Afterpay increased their retail footprint to over 17,000 retailers. The suburban shrieks were deafening for Kmart’s announcement. Afterpay have 2.3m active users. They powered their way into the US and are raising $108m in capital for a UK expansion. It’s not all smooth sailing though. The “start up” operates at a loss and has faced criticism for being ‘predatory’ of young consumers.

Afterpay Customer Growth 2018

Afterpay’s tripled customer growth in eighteen months. Source: Afterpay FY2018 Results Presentation (PDF)

Despite this, the Australian love affair with Afterpay continues. Afterpay has changed the way a segment of the market shops. It is not just a payment option, it is a qualifier. For some, if you can’t Afterpay, you’re not a consideration. While the jury is out on the long term future for Afterpay, you can guarantee that it will be a non-negotiable for many this Christmas.

4.Cyber Week shifts spending

Boxing Day has always been our national shopping day. This tradition has shifted with the explosion of Cyber Week. Cyber week kicks off with Black Friday on November 23 and continues with Cyber Monday on November 26. Many retailers fill in the blanks to make it a week long event. 35% of Australian Christmas shopping will happen during Cyber week according to Salesforce. It represents 40% of holiday shopping in the US where it has been a tradition for decades.

Cyber Week Share per Country

Cyber Week captures 35% of Australian Christmas shopping. Source: Salesforce 2018 Holiday Predictions

Australian customers now expect and plan for participation. Such is the importance of the event, some retailers do a dual Christmas buy. They clear the initial Christmas range during Cyber Week and then launch a new range post. Whatever your strategy, prepare for Christmas to peak early!

5. Purpose has never been more important

2018 has challenged accepted norms through significant social movements. Examples include #metoo, single use plastic and customer data protection. Nike reinforced their purpose by standing behind Colin Kaepernick in their latest campaign. There was uproar. There was also “record engagement” by true fans.

Nike Colin Kaepernick ad

Nike took a position in 2018. What do you stand for?

Retailers in Australian with strong social purpose include Cotton On, Flora & Fauna and World For Pets. Customers want to know where you stand. Do you source local? Empower minority groups? Prioritise sustainable materials? Donate to the disadvantaged? If so, it should be part of your story this Christmas. Your customers want to know. They want it to be part of their story when they gift.

2018 Christmas will be different. Optimise in response to the evolving patterns from last Christmas. Rethink your approach to capitalise on new opportunities. This is not a ‘copy and paste’ Christmas.

The turkey is on the table for those who look at it with fresh eyes. The rest get the scraps.

Seven weeks until Cyber Friday, go get ’em!

Written by Nathan Bush

Nathan Bush is the founder of eCommerce consultancy, 12HIGH. He has managed $100m+ eCommerce businesses and is in the Top 50 People in eCommerce.

Last night, Shopify merchants, agencies and experts got together for the regular #shopifymeetup. It was a bit special last night as attendance broke the world record for the number of attendees. Over 300 ‘shopifites’ attended. This blew Melbourne’s previous high score out of the water. Go Brisbane! 
Shopify meetup world record
Highlights from last night included…
Craig Somerville from Reload Media (and our hosts for the night) powered through five digital marketing tips in five minutes . ‘Replicate the in-store experience for differentiation’ stood out for me. Everything old is new again! He emphasised the effort put into making the instore experience attentive and unique. Are you replicating this online?
Next up was Ashton Tuckerman from YouFoodz. Despite what appears to be heavy customisation, YouFoodz are a Shopify Plus customer. Ashton spoke about the importance of brand in selling. It is obvious that YouFoodz value the customer, story telling and agility. Ashton stole/borrowed the recommendation to be “good different”. A powerful principle when selling to customers. 
Shopify Meetup YouFoods story telling
Direct from Canada, we had Steve Haase who heads up solution engineering for Shopify Plus. Steve demonstrated Shopify’s augmented reality product display features which launched last month. This features takes a 3D model of product and adds it to the product page. Customers to view the product as if it is in their own environment using their phone. A push bike on a table was the example used. It is very innovative but we are still very much in the experimental phase. The functionality is still manual and time consuming to do it well. Very interesting though and one to keep an eye on. 


Lastly, Sebastian Swaczynski showed how the Facebook network can be used to target eCommerce customers at the right time. He demonstrated product integration and display across Facebook, Instagram and their Audience Network. He showed effective retargeting by tailoring creative to customers last interaction. He explained how Facebook look-alikes can target customers who haven’t visited your site. And how to use Facebook Messenger for targeted and meaningful interactions. The can be no doubt that the Facebook network is a big and complicated. If used to target customers based on their specific journey, rather than a spray and prey, it can be a powerful conversion beast


Shopify Meetup Facebook targeted ads
And that was a little over an hour packed with content! 
If you are a Shopify merchant, get on board for the next one in January 2019. Join the Brisbane Shopify Meetup group to get alerted when it gets to registration. If you want to discuss brand building, augmented reality or customer pathway marketing for your Shopify site, contact us and we’ll be happy to share more.
12HIGH is a Shopify partner and eCommerce consultancy agency based in Brisbane. Led by Nathan Bush who has managed eCommerce for ASX listed corporates and is in the Top 50 People in eCommerce for the last four years