Retailers in Australia are beginning to experience a surge in online activity, official new figures have suggested.

Data compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed businesses across all industry sectors received orders worth around $237 billion via the internet in 2011-12.

This represented a 25 per cent increase when compared with the previous year, while business-to-business transactions were up 51 per cent over the same period.

The results included purchases made by households, government and other enterprises, as well as overseas customers.

Lesley Martin, ABS assistant director of the organisation’s innovation and technology statistics branch, said IT was being used in many companies as a driver for change.

The ABS outlined four types of innovation:

·       new or significantly improved products or services
·       different marketing methods
·       organisational or managerial change
·       operational process change

“We found that 47 per cent of businesses reported that they had undertaken innovative activity during the year ended 30 June 2012,” Ms Martin said.

“Larger Australian businesses have led the charge with innovation. Three quarters of these businesses introduced, developed and/or abandoned some type of innovation during 2011-12.”

Just under 20 per cent of companies said they introduced new or cutting-edge marketing methods, up from 16.8 per cent in the previous year.

However, the most common innovation was organisational or managerial change, which occurred in 23 per cent of businesses, while 20.4 per cent reported a fresh approach to their goods and services.

Overall, there was a significant leap in the number of businesses that were using IT and online activities in the process of innovation, with 41 per cent of enterprises in 2011-12 implementing at least one of the four types of innovation.

This was up from the 38.6 per cent achieved in 2009-10 and the 33.3 per cent from 2010-11.