Gold Coast and Hinterland ranked as the top regional ‘hotspot’ where online small to medium-size businesses are experiencing the largest growth, according to a study by PayPal Australia.

The data shows total payment volume of online businesses from the area grew by 28 per cent from March 2012 to March 2013. On an overall scale, the top 10 regional SMB hotspots grew by 47 per cent in the period, while traditional retail fell by 0.4 per cent in March 2013. Overall, total payment volume for PayPal regional SMBs grew 27 per cent.

Emma Hunt, head of small business at PayPal Australia, said region SMBs are taking advantage of the flexibility online shopping offers in terms of location and operating hours.

“Regional centres have become hotbeds for innovative small businesses using the online world to reach consumers both in Australia and around the world. These areas have become a destination for seachangers, keen to get out of the city and make a flexible living as a niche small business,” she said.

Based in the Gold Coast, Andrew Lygo, managing director of Spectrum Online, operates a number of online retail sites including Birds off Boats, Birds Off, Australian Gear and Hats by the Hundred. He initially started Birds Off Boats, a niche marine and boating business online while he was based in Sydney, and then moved to the Gold Coast where he saw an opportunity to grow his business while affording the flexibility of working in coastal Queensland.

“When we moved out of Sydney, we were keen to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, settling down in an area that was both relevant to our business and provided a more flexible way of life,” Lygo said.

“We’ve been in operation for eight years and are continuing to see significant growth in our niche offering, by successfully operating both an online store and a showroom in the Gold Coast. In our first year alone, we turned over $50,000 and since then we have grown by 100 per cent or more each year.”
In the last year, PayPal Australia has grown its merchant base by over a third, with now over 80,000 businesses enabling PayPal payments, largely driven by SMB growth. The number of regional PayPal SMB merchants has increased by 20 per cent in the period from March 2012 to March 2013.