Retailers in Australia are ‘underprepared’ for the anticipated boom in online shopping, according to NetSuite and the Australian Retailers Association (ARA).

According to retail research conducted by the two groups based on earlier findings from Frost & Sullivan, sales in online retailingare forecast to reach over $18 billion this year. In addition to this, online sales are predicted to grow by 39 per cent by 2015, totaling $25 billion.

This figure includes the projected amount of Australian purchases on both local and overseas websites. However, the study also revealed that out of the 77,000 Australian retail businesses who have a website, only one-third are able to facilitate online orders.

As a result, it’s estimated that between 33 and 50 per cent of all online expenditures made by Australian shoppers are going to sites overseas.

Another study from Frost & Sullivan found that online sales penetration in the Australian market is still relatively behind that of other countries, with online retailing making up around 7 per cent of total retail sales.

In contrast, the UK and US markets each see online sales making up about 10 per cent of total retail sales.

“As Australian consumers become more confident with online shopping, and as a greater number of retailers actively promote their online offerings, the value of online retail sales is growing at double-digit rates, suggesting that Australia still has room to grow,” said Frost & Sullivan Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand Mark Dougan.

“Many brick and mortar retailers are currently missing out on market opportunities from the booming online retail sector in Australia.”

Mr Dougan says that retailers developing their online strategy may find it helpful to consider a more “multi-channel” approach, where customers have greater choice in how they purchase goods.

This strategy has many potential benefits, including lower operating costs and the opportunity to reach new customers in wider markets.