According to Nielsen research, 54 percent of Kiwis aged over 18 years are now shopping online, an increase from 38 percent of New Zealanders five years ago, with New Zealanders spending $3.7 billion in the last 12 months.
The number of purchases being made per person has also grown significantly with 446,000 people making 11 or more transactions online in 2012, an increase of 44 percent from 2011 (310,000 people). This group now accounts for more than a quarter (27 percent) of online shoppers.
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"New Zealanders are becoming more and more comfortable shopping online," says Tony Boyte, associate director of research, Nielsen. "A tipping point has been reached and many more will now follow, by the end of the year we expect to see two million New Zealanders shopping online and spend to rise to $4 billion."
The most popular products and services are airline tickets, with 47 percent of online shoppers purchasing from this category, followed by clothing/shoes/accessories (38%), books/magazines (32%), entertainment tickets (29%) and travel-related services such as accommodation and car hire (28%).
Nielsen’s Online Retail Report identifies a combination of reasons consumers are shopping online. Shopping online is primarily driven by consumers finding better prices and deals and the ability to compare products and brands. Its convenience and time saving are also major drivers.
The convenience is magnified by the use of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) for shopping online. Consumers are predominantly using these devices for research but a number of consumers are now actively using them to make an online purchase.
Over a quarter (26 percent) of online shopping spend is taking place on international websites. The choice of products and perceived price savings are the main contributors to this.
"Purchasing offshore continues to rise and highlights the concerns of New Zealand retailers about how they can effectively compete with sales to international websites," says Boyte.
While these numbers are interesting and the shift is obviously causing some disruption to bricks and mortar, it pays to remember that online retail is still just a fraction of the country's total retail spending ($54 billion in 2012).