By Aimee Chanthadavong

While 78 per cent of eBay’s major online retailers said they experienced difficulties with manufacturers and suppliers, it is still expected that online retailing will grow, an annual survey of Australian businesses engaged in eCommerce shows.

Nearly seven out of 10 respondents of eBay’s Online Business Index (OBI) said they were optimistic about the business outlook for the coming year – a slight increase over 2010.

Indicative of this optimism, the survey found that online businesses expected to increase staff from an average of 4.4 paid employees to an average of six over the next 12 months.

Daniel Feiler, eBay Australia spokesperson, told RetailBiz that consumers are shopping less in-store and are doing a majority of it online.

“The Australian based eBay sellers in the past couple years, especially last year seeing great success because they’re simply online and competing online at a time when consumers are undergoing a shift in their shopping habits,” he said.

“ebay sellers have the larger turnovers and are reaping the benefits of this consumer trend. What that indicates is that if they are able to get access to a greater range of products then they would potentially have stronger growth,” he said.

He also noted that the top 2,000 eBay sellers grew at 38 per cent and if the supply chain was more open, the growth for them would’ve been potentially higher than reported.

“There’s been a lot of talk about Australian consumers shopping from overseas sellers in the past six to 12 months because we’ve got a strong Australian dollar and there’s great value overseas,” Feiler said.

“Also, just as important, or if even more so important, is if you look at online players overseas where they have a much larger range of products available, which means suppliers and manufacturers need to be willing to open up their inventory to Australian-based sellers so it would open the opportunity up for Australian sellers. The lack of range is one of the key factors.”

The OBI report found that 35 per cent of merchants said manufacturers and suppliers tried to prevent them from selling their goods on the internet or on particular websites, while 25 per cent were required to sell their products at or around a particular recommended retail price.

“By releasing of these results it will shine more light on the issue and the huge opportunity that there is in eCommerce and the potential growth of it in the next few years. We hope from this, manufactures and suppliers be more willing to open up with less conditions,” Feiler said.