The cost of clothing, accessories and other items online has doubled since the advent of the online auction market, according to a new study from the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.
While Australia’s online auction sector was initially a success story for the online retailer, the findings highlight the difficulty retailers face in navigating the growing market for vintage and vintage-inspired clothing, footwear and accessories.
“There’s a lot of variation in how many people want to buy a vintage or vintage-styled item,” said Professor Michael Moller, senior director of digital merchandising at ANZ.
“So the number of people that want to spend money on a vintage item can vary wildly depending on the age, gender and how much you want to get into the vintage look.”
“We need to ensure that our customers are aware of what they’re buying,” he said.
“We have to ensure they understand what it is that we are selling, what it will look like, and that we will honour our warranty and deliver the item to you as promised.”
Auctioning online can be a daunting experience for customers who are not familiar with the various options, such as bidding through mobile phones, or using the “buy now” button.
But with the advent and popularity of mobile phones and tablets, online bidding platforms such as Gumtree and eBay have emerged as a cheaper alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar retail outlets.
“Online bidding is a lot easier for people who don’t have a lot or don’t really know what they are doing,” Professor Moller said.
For the study, researchers looked at data from a database of more than 40,000 auction houses from a range of countries.
The study also found that Australians spend more on clothing online than in-store, with almost one-third of Australians spending between $2 and $5 a day.
“Australians are really keen to try and get something vintage, and they are willing to pay more than people in other countries,” Professor Peter Staggs, an associate professor in the ANZ department of digital media at the time, said.”[Australians] have a good understanding of what vintage items are and what the vintage style is.”
The researchers also found Australia had the largest online vintage market in the world, with more than one-quarter of all Australians purchasing vintage-themed items online.
“The most important thing for us was that we didn’t go into this expecting a lot from eBay or Amazon,” Professor Stagging said.
An example of a vintage piece sold at auction: the original Chihuahua doll.
Source: ANZ/Auctions AustraliaThe study found Australia’s largest online auction house, Gumtree, had a $16.7 billion (AU$18.5 billion) online market in December 2016.
The second-largest auction house was the Australian-based eBay, which had $13.4 billion (AUD$14.6 billion) in online auctions.
A third auction house is known as the online marketplaces (OMPs), which collectively had a combined market share of just under half of the overall online market.
“This is the market that people actually want to be able to get a vintage thing online, and to be honest, that’s the only way to get it,” Professor Gail Wilson, an Australian-born digital media and marketing expert at ANU, said in an interview.
“You can’t really get a big retailer to pay that price.
If you look at the eBay, you can get a lot cheaper, but you need a big, powerful retailer to get that.”
An example from an online auction: a 1930s red dress.
SuppliedAn Australian example of an online vintage piece from eBay.
Source (supplied)For the first time in ANZ’s online auctions history, the ANU study also looked at a country outside of Australia.
“If you look in the United States, you will see that a lot more people are shopping online,” Professor Wilson said.
The ANZ study found the biggest market for online auctions in the US was in China, followed by the UK, Canada and Australia.
Australia’s largest market, Japan, had more than half the total online auctions, with an estimated $3.9 billion (US$4.1 billion) worth of online sales in December.
But Australia’s biggest market in terms of online auctions was not in Australia but the US.
“It’s really interesting that Australia and the US are the only two markets where there’s a large market,” Professor Schofield said.
Professor Stagg says that while the ANBG study provides important insight into the potential impact online auctioning is having on Australia’s overall online shopping and retail sector, it is still an important piece of research.
“A lot of the research we’ve done in Australia has focused on retail, but it’s important to think about the impact online bidding is having in Australia and what that