A Three-Part Guide to Setting Up Online Business in Australia


If you’re thinking of starting a business empire, Australia’s e-commerce market is a treasure trove of opportunities. To be precise, it’s a pile of loot at a value of nearly US$32 billion (or AU$41 billion), and to the delight of us all, that stockpile shows no sign of slowing down. That translates to the 5th largest e-commerce market in the Asia Pacific region, according to Forrester. In other words, it’s an opportunity to make serious money.

What’s the catch? This question.

"How do I start an e-commerce or online store business in Australia?"

Well, we’ve anticipated that. You may find the process tedious and complicated (and you will), but that’s okay. Now you’re here, you can relax. Because in this three-part guide, we will walk you through the basics of setting up an online store if you live in Australia (or planning to expand your business there). We’ll discuss the 8 steps to get your online business up and running.

8 Steps to Set Your Store Up

  1. Decide what you want to sell and your target market.
  2. Of course. This is arguably the most important step in this long, tedious process of setting up an online business.

    The Internet as a marketplace can be ruthless; no room for second chances, let alone careless errors and miscalculations. You are about to sell in the most competitive market in the world, with millions of merchants hungry to get a chunk of the 1.8 billion customers who are actively purchasing goods online. The point is you have to know what you’re going to sell and to which sector of the global market you intend to sell your products to. Ignoring this crucial step means failing to specialize your business around the interest of your target audience.

    Case in point: if you like flowers, then set up an online flower shop with additional services, knowing that your main target market is mostly females and other business which use floral products (wedding organizers, specialty gift shops, among others).

  3. Register your business – including your store’s domain name.
  4. After careful planning about your business’ nature and structure (note: it must take time), you should now register your business. If you have an existing ABN (Australian Business Number), you’re only required to register your domain name. To maximize market reach, your domain name should match the product or service you want to offer. Does a website named petcollars.com.au selling Korean cosmetics make any sense?

    Also, noticed that .au at the end of the domain name? That’ll be useful if you want your store to specifically cater to the Australian market. If you want to go global or envisions your business to do so in the future, choose the .com domain extension.

  5. Build your store using the right platform.
  6. Now comes another important step that is crucial to the success of your online business – choosing the right e-commerce platform.

    We’ll save the discussions for this topic later, as the third part of this 3-part blog series will be focusing on the best e-commerce platforms to consider for beginners in the industry.

    For starters, choosing the right platform is similar to how a brick-and-mortar store would function on a day-to-day basis.

    It’s natural to have questions about the complexities of e-commerce, and that’s where e-commerce solutions come handy.

  7. Invest in store designs and functionalities.
  8. Today, just before the second decade of the 21st century ends, ultra-modern and AI-toting shops and stores dot multiple megacities around the world. These sweet, futuristic features come with hefty price tags, and for their respective owners and companies, they are significant investments. Unnecessary for their operations to continue, but vital for future-proofing and making an impression.

    It’s practically the same for online stores. Once you’ve chosen a platform, you must invest in designs and functionalities that give you an edge over your competitors. It’ll leave a stronger first impression and, as a result, get more conversions.

    If you want to work with an e-commerce website design in Sydney, you can click here for more info.

  9. Track your store’s key performance indicators (or KPIs).
  10. KPIs are business tools every merchant needs to know to track and assess your store’s performance. It’s like a daily or weekly financial report on how well your online business is performing.

    We’ve enumerated the following e-commerce-specific indicators that you should regularly monitor:

    • Average order value: measures the revenue you earn per order. If you want to make promos like discounts and item bundling, use this indicator to know how much you’ll be earning.
    • Customer lifetime value: a useful indicator that determines customer retention and loyalty. CLV projects the expected revenue from customers for their entire lifetimes.
    • Conversion rate: the most important performance indicator is your conversion rate, which measures the percentage of site visitors who purchase from your store.
    • Revenue on ad spend: shows the revenue you earn per advertising spend. It’s a crucial indicator of the effectiveness of your advertisements. Understanding how this works can save you from unnecessary expenses.
    • Shopping cart abandonment: this figure reflects possible inconveniences encountered by customers such as high shipping fees, lengthy checkout process, or lack of payment options.
    • Map overlay: this indicator lets you know which visitors belong to a specific country or state. This is vital if you’re planning to expand your reach overseas or focus on a particular city.
  11. Advertise your website with modern tools.
  12. Don’t even think about posting on Gumtree. You wouldn’t want your customers to have that kind of impression. What you need is a holistic approach to your marketing strategy; the kind that builds reputation and loyalty. You must avoid giving off a “one-time thing” vibe—at all costs.

    For this, you will need to use a variety of digital marketing tools.

    • Social media marketing – a direct, cost-friendly way to engage with potential customers and maintain a solid relationship with your established fans and regulars, both contribute to higher conversion rates
    • Blogging/vlogging – people’s eyes have never been this glued to their smartphones before thanks to the rise of vloggers and influencers – and it’s an effective way to tap the ever-growing millennial market
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – online marketing’s most effective tool for making your store appear on the top results of search engines using powerful keywords and substantial content
    • Online ads – there’s no better way to generate buzz than running an ad campaign through Google or Facebook, offering cost flexibility and a location-targeted engine if you want to advertise only in a specific area
  13. Choose your payment gateways.
  14. For emphasis, you don’t want one-time customers, right? Of course. That will spell doom for your online store. So, BEFORE getting started with your Australian dream to dominate retail on this side of the world, you need to make sure your checkout process will not irk your customers.

    What to do? Opt for the right payment gateways and methods to speed up transactions, not overcomplicating them with unnecessary surveys and checkout forms.

    Here are the top payment methods for Australian customers:

    • Credit cards (MasterCard and Visa)
    • Internet banking
    • E-wallets (PayPal, Visa Online)
    • Mobile payments
    • Online bank transfer
    • Cash-on-delivery
  15. Partner with a trusted logistics provider.
  16. Yes! You’re ready to put the cherry on top of the cake. Partnering your business with a reliable logistics service is crucial, yet often overlooked step in setting up an online store in Australia. Forget to set this up, and no one’s going to visit your store again.

    If you have the resources to assemble an in-house distribution and delivery team, it’ll be ideal for your business in the long run. However, this can be difficult to manage (and finance) if you’re a from-scratch start-up. Outsourcing your logistical needs is the only way to go.

Getting Started and Moving Forward

          There you go! You just finished setting up your online store in Australia. Well, hypothetically speaking. But isn’t it easy? True, it can be quite intimidating, but you don’t have to launch a perfect online store. Ever heard of feedbacks? Just wait for them to come at you popping as notifications. You’ll get used to it, eventually. And for many successful merchants, that’s the beauty of online selling—receiving praise and accepting criticisms, all for the improvement of your business.

          In the next article, we’ll be discussing the technicalities of online selling and maintaining your store in-depth. Stay tuned!