By Aimee Chanthadavong

While bricks and mortar retailers continue to predict poor Christmas sales, PayPal indicates that 2010 will be the biggest Christmas yet for Australian online retailers.

According to a recent report commissioned by PayPal, the Australian eCommerce market is set to reach $36.8 billion by 2013, with 2010 online sales peaking this Christmas. It is believed the combination of the strong Australian dollar, the increasing number of Australian retailers expanding their online offerings and growing consumer confidence in online shopping, are underlying reasons behind the expected growth.

Taking advantage of this, PayPal has teamed up with over 50 Australian online retailers, including JB Hi-Fi, Bing Lee and General Pants, to offer customers free shipping throughout the festive season.

Speaking to Retailbiz, PayPal spokesperson Adrian Christie said retailers are realising they need to be where consumers are.

“What we’re seeing is more Australian retailers are making more products available to where consumers are. The benefit with signing up with PayPal is the incentive of being able to offer consumers free shipping and PayPal has over 3.5 million active consumers so that’s a huge reach we’re able to provide to them,” he said.

The research also revealed that nearly a quarter of consumers prefers to ‘buy Aussie’ and will only shop online at domestic websites. When Australians do turn to overseas shopping, PayPal research shows that a wider choice and selection of goods is the most considered factor, rather than price

Additionally, though it may be a positive outcome that consumers are buying from Australian online retailers, retailers themselves need to be weary of risks invovled, Christie said.

“Fraud would be the primary risk that online retailers take when they offer their products online but that’s where PayPal comes in as it’s a secure payment service,” he said.

“Brand reputation is another. Whether getting customers to shop with you online or in-store, retailers need to make sure during the Christmas period that they have clearly stated shipping terms. This is important as we get close to Christmas because retailes need to notify customers how long it takes and when the last order will be taken so the products reach the customers on time for Christmas.

“Another is the return policy as it’s a common question asked by consumers ‘can I return this’ and this applies both online and in-store.”