By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: A report released today by Deloitte Access Economics on Australian internet use has said that growth in online shopping is expected to increase by $10 billion over the next three years.

The report, titled “The Connected Continent: How the internet is transforming the Australian economy”, was commissioned by Google Australia and featured research across a broad range of sectors in order to gauge the way Australian consumers and businesses engage with internet in daily life.

Part of that research included a national survey of 150 small to medium enterprises, which found that “there is substantial scope for SMEs to take greater advantage of the internet, with all respondents using the internet but only half having their own website.”

In addition, “The benefits of SMEs getting online should flow to other Australians, as SMEs suggest they are more likely to use the internet to find additional customers and suppliers locally, rather than overseas,” according to the report.

Deloitte Access Economics found that households made up the largest component of the internet economy, “representing 2.6% of GDP and roughly 70% of total expenditure.” In addition, two-thirds of household spending comprised of goods and services bought over the internet.

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E-commerce is also tipped to be on the rise. “Separate analyses of the near-term outlook for online shopping imply an average annual growth rate of 11.2%, three times as fast as forecast growth in GDP,” the report read.

“These studies imply that online retail will increase by $10 billion over the next three years, and if this pace were to persist it would reach $24 billion by 2016.”

“The direct contribution of the internet to the Australian economy is around $50 billion, or 3.6% of GDP,” the Deloitte report found, also noting that the sector only just trails behind the retail industry which contributes $53 billion to the economy.

But the report also conceded that “despite the economic transformations that have already taken place as a result of the internet, there is still a long way to go.”

“The direct economic contribution of the internet to the Australian economy is set to increase by $20 billion over the next five years, from $50 billion to roughly $70 billion. This represents a growth rate (at 7%) that is twice as fast as that forecasted for the rest of the economy.”

Deloitte found that e-commerce is on the increase, and predicted that as more households get faster and more reliable access to the internet (in part thanks to the rollout of the NBN) internet shopping would only increase.