Internet downloads have increased by a third in volume over six months to June 2012 quarter, according to the latest figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Figures from the December 2012 quarter Internet Activity survey show the total volume of data downloaded in Australia topped half a million terabytes (TB) for the first time in a quarter, with more than 550,000 TB being downloaded.

Therefore it’s more important than ever to ensure retailers are online and reaping the rewards this increase. Google Australia’s head of retail Ross McDonald said the ABS figures indicate that if you’re not online you’re invisible.

“Our use of the internet is only growing, so without a website your business can’t be found on the world’s busiest shopping strip: the internet,” he said.

“You wouldn’t run a business without a phone number or mailing address and expect to receive orders or enquiries. But that’s exactly what many businesses are still doing by ignoring the web. The numbers prove the opportunity out there. A physical store reaches passersby but a website can potentially reach thousands of people searching the internet.”

He also noted that business owners do not need to spend a lot of money on elaborate websites to get started.

“The most important thing is that you can be found online. Once there, a majority of customers are after simple contact details like a phone number, address or hours of operation. Even small stores in regional Australia can benefit from this as we know that 1 in 5 searches on a desktop computer are local. There are many tools out there to help you get started, so there’s no need to delay any longer,” he said.

The survey also revealed an increase in mobile handset internet usage. Data downloaded by mobile handset subscribers increased by 38 per cent to 13,700 TB, however this still represents a relatively small proportion of total data downloads.

“We estimate that mobile-optimised sites amongst large companies is only 1 in 3, and this is understandably lower for small to medium businesses,” McDonald said.

“Mobile is particularly useful for out and about people who are searching local. And local searches on mobile devices are even higher than on your home PC: 1 in 3 are for a store location, opening hours or similar queries. These people are looking for a store in that very moment and those with a mobile site will definitely have the edge over competitors.”