By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: Forget electric guitars and groupies – the latest tour bus to hit the roads in regional centres across Australia is targeted towards small business owners who want to expand their online trade.

Driving Business Online is a new initiative by PayPal Australia, in association with the Australian Retailers Association, designed to show SMBs how to forge an online presence and achieve results with online business.

The program was launched today at Parliament House, by Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and Senator the Hon. Nick Sherry, Minister for Small Business.

Click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter

Executive Director of the ARA, Russell Zimmerman, was at the launch this morning and said that the program was “about giving retailers valuable tools to make informed decisions about their online strategy.

“Consumer behaviour is changing as new technologies enable them to engage in the shopping experience through multiple channels,” Zimmerman said. “The key focus moving forward will be the seamless brand experience and service retailers can provide via the channels of choice for their customers.

“In this consumer-driven economy, savvy retailers already realise that multi-channel retailing is a way to expand their business by both engaging new markets and adding value for existing markets.”

Reaffirming the thoughts of many of Australia’s retailers, Frerk-Malte Feller, Managing Director, PayPal Australia said the switch to online business was inevitable as consumer desires changed.

“Operating online is no longer an option for Australian retailers and service providers, but an absolute necessity to gain the momentum they need to stay competitive in today’s changing consumer landscape. Over 8 million Australian consumers now use the internet to make purchases and this, coupled with global consumers, makes the online market place a very exciting space to operate in,” Feller said.

PayPal is partnering with Australia Post, Optus, Norton by Symantec, eBay, MYOB, Powerfront and the Australia Retailers Association to present the program. The Driving Business Online bus will be making stops in 15 towns across NSW, and will be paired with a website that will offer further information.