Two in three small-business online sellers struggle to succeed

New research reveals two in three Australian small-business online sellers struggle to turn their businesses into full-time jobs, with 65 per cent working a second job or running another business to survive.

The findings come from a survey of 193 small-business online sellers in Australia by WorldFirst, a provider of international money transfers. The sellers surveyed largely sell products online, from categories including home and garden (31 per cent of respondents), health and personal care (22 per cent), clothing and accessories (15 per cent) and toys and games (15 per cent).

According to NAB, over the last year to April, SME online sellers made up nearly 37 per cent of all online retail sales*. In the year to March 2018, online sales by SMEs grew 22 per cent, compared with 14 per cent for their corporate counterparts**.

The survey revealed that for most small online sellers, their eCommerce business is not their only job. Almost half (47 per cent) are employed full-time or part-time in a job, 24 per cent are seeking to quit those second jobs, while 18 per cent run at least one other business. Just one quarter (23 per cent) say their eCommerce business is their full-time job.

The survey further revealed the hours these small-business owners spend running their business. Forty-two (42) per cent spend more than 25 hours a week, and a further 44 per cent spend up to 15 hours.

Thirty-two (32) per cent spend most of their hours marketing their websites, 23 per cent spend most of their hours on product research, and 11 per cent spend most of their time on fulfilment.

Ray Ridgeway, Managing Director of WorldFirst, said, “The arrival of Amazon Australia diverts buyers from Amazon USA to our local marketplace, but it also increases the number of international sellers entering the local market. This is great from a consumer buying perspective, as more sellers means more product variety and also more price compression. It will, however, impact the local retailers and make it tougher to compete, if they don’t have good strategies in place.”

He added, “Every cent counts when you’re a small-business owner, especially if it’s your main income source and not necessarily just ‘play money’. Not only do you need to consider the costs of shipping, warehousing, website development and maintenance, but if you’re a small business selling overseas, you’ll also need to think about currency conversion rates. Movements in foreign currency can significantly impact on profit, if a business doesn’t have a foreign currency strategy in place.”


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