Shopping.com buys into Australia

eBay-owned shopping portal Shopping.com believes the Australian e-commerce market is finally ripe for the picking, and will launch its Australian service this week with 200 local retail partners.

eBay-owned shopping portal Shopping.com believes the Australian e-commerce market is finally ripe for the picking, and will launch its Australian service this week with 200 local retail partners.

The online buying site, already popular in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany, pools together items as diverse as electronics, clothing, office supplies and cosmetics, and allows for direct product comparisons via set criteria.

Dick Smith, EzyDVD and Peter's of Kensington are some of the local retailers on board, but Shopping.com Australia country manager Shaun Cornelius said he expected wine and sporting goods to be the boom items.

"Wine and sports are important as they're very localised products," he said.

For example, Shopping.com Australia will offer over 340 wines, segmented in categories like region, varietal, vintage and price.

The vast majority of Shopping.com Australia retailers would be locals, according to Cornelius, but overseas companies were also on board.

However the site would display all products in Australian dollars, regardless of retailer location. Shopping.com could calculate the exchange rate on-the-fly, according to Cornelius.

Cornelius said Shopping.com's decision to enter the Australian market was influenced by Nielsen research that found 5.5 million Australians were shopping online.

"There are a significant proportion of Australians shopping online. They want a range of products.

"We know it's becoming more and more mainstream, too."

"We also see a lot of retailers going online and entering this market at the moment.

"So e-commerce is at a point of inflexion, but there's a long way to go.

Added to this was a lack of competition, he said.

"We believe the existing online shopping sites in Australia are pretty small."

Most Australians used search engines like Google for online shopping, said Cornelius, resulting in a "frustrating experience".

"It's a pretty compelling reason to go into this market when the five and a half million are having a pretty frustrating experience so far."

Shopping.com's advantage was the level of product attributes it provided, using the company's global product catalogue.

Retail partners provide Shopping.com with a list of product identifiers, and the e-tailer maps them to its catalogue.

Shopping.com had only partnered with retailers who already had a transactional website for their products, according to Cornelius. This means traditional retail giants like Myer, David Jones, K-Mart and Woolworths don't partner the site.

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