By Aimee Chanthadavong

While for many it is a nervous time to be in retail, it is also an exciting time as Australian online commerce undergoes a change, largely being driven by the way both retailers and consumers are harnessing new technologies.

PayPal’s Secure Insight: Changing the Way We Pay report, developed in conjunction with Forrester Research, Nielsen and the Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS), indicates that online commerce is expected to reach $37.7 billion 2013, an increase of over a billion dollars since PayPal realised its forecast this time last year.

Speaking at a breakfast launch on Tuesday, Frerk-Malte Feller, managing director, PayPal Australia, said the growth of online commerce in Australia has exceeded what anyone first predicted.

“One year ago we were talking about how online was an opportunity but mainly it was seen as a threat where imports were really taking off and so many retailers were denying that it was happening,” he said.

“Then six months later the conversation in March, mobile became something tangible and again six months later that online is what everyone is doing and that it’s evolving fast and there are a lot of retailers who are coming on board and it’s evolving their strategy in a comprehensive way.”

Set to reach $30.2 billion by the end of 2011, online commerce is expected to grow at 12.2 per cent throughout 2012. With 97 per cent of Australian internet users now having shopped online,

Despite a strong Australian dollar, domestic retail continues to account for three quarters (73 per cent) of online consumption in Australia, yet with 63 per cent of Australians having shopped overseas in the last year, there are opportunities for Australian retailers to increase market share.

Melanie Ingrey, Nielsen research director, highlighted the reason for this growth is of the smartphone ownership, where internet enabled phones currently make up 65 per cent of total handsets in the Australian market.

She also said that while previous years were the ‘year of the mobile’ but this year really is the year of the mobile as smartphones begin to dominate the market. This is particularly because 40 per cent of those surveyed prefer fewer or a single payment method to make all of their payments and 60 per cent of males agree with the statement.

Feller concluded: “New business models, new technologies and a new consumer have changed the face of both the retail and payments landscape, changing the way we shop and pay.”