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Australia ecommerce: getting goods to Australia

So you’ve decided to expand your business to Australia, drawn by its advanced economy, favorable growth prospects, and considerable spending power. But you might be wondering how to actually get started. Fortunately, doing business in Australia is pretty straightforward. The biggest question you should be weighing is what goods to bring down under—and how to get them there.

What can you import?
Once you’ve registered your business in Australia (we’ve put together more details about that here), you should check in with the country’s Customs authority to see what products are allowed to be imported. Broadly speaking, the country restricts items that range from the predictable to the surprising, from antibiotics, glazed ceramic ware, erasers that resemble food (in scent or appearance), even toys. But they’re really looking to weed out goods that might be dangerous to consumers, such as those that include toxic materials.

Australian authorities are also on the lookout for goods that shouldn’t enter the country on the basis of their origin. To determine your product’s provenance, if you don’t know it, you’ll need to investigate the country of manufacture and the location from which it will be shipped to Australia. Provenance isn’t all bad, though: Certain origins (the United States, for example) qualify you for benefits like reduced duty rates. That can be a big help in setting favorable prices for your ecommerce shipping strategy, allowing you to pinch here and there to pass on savings to buyers.

Customs has a handy guide to things they ban and restrict here, which also delineates the governing body you should contact to get a permit if necessary. When in doubt, ask! You can contact the Customs Information and Support Centre by via e-mail at You should also consult Shipwire’s Acceptable Use Policy, which governs all shipments made to Shipwire facilities, to confirm your goods aren’t barred by our standards.

What should you bring?
The Australian ecommerce market remains immature, so it should come as no surprise that the categories gaining popularity online parallel those that first gained traction in developed ecommerce markets like the United States: books and entertainment, clothing, and consumer electronics. A report by Morgan Stanley found that, in addition to those categories, shoppers are more inclined to shop online—and offshore—for things like auto parts, personal care and household products. Those are categories, then, that you should consider bringing over to the Australian market, particularly if your prices and quality are unmatched. Of course, if you’re dipping a toe into consumer electronics, you’ll want to refer back to those import rules. Many of them have restrictions based on the country of origin and possible counterfeit charges.

In selecting SKUs to import, you should also consider your customer’s profile. Ecommerce growth in Australia is being fueled by younger generations—already, more young people feel comfortable shelling out online. Younger Australians are less concerned with store presence as a driver of purchases, instead focused on the convenience of ecommerce fulfillment and shipping. Of Australians under 30, only 28 percent considered a physical footprint very important, reflective of their broader comfort with shopping globally. And 94 percent of Australians under 30 purchased online in 2012. (Sixty percent of those young buyers bought clothing.)

Finally, it might benefit you to start on the lower-priced end of the spectrum, because Australia doesn’t charge duties or taxes for most goods worth equal to or less than A$1,000 (about $940 USD). But you’ll have to pay duties and taxes for some categories, like tobacco or alcohol, regardless of their value. You should also examine how certain SKUs fit into your overall ecommerce fulfillment strategy. If you deem them difficult or expensive to get around, it might be best to hold off on bringing them to Australia. For additional information, take a look at Shipwire’s current carrier and pricing options in Australia. After all, the key to success lies in convenience—for customers, and for you.

How to get products into Australia
Once you’ve selected the products you plan to offer to Australian shoppers, it’s time to move them closer to buyers by importing them to the continent. Your due diligence ought to have provided key insight into dealing with the country’s Customs department, and from there, Shipwire has designed its receiving process to be as easy as possible. You can get all the details on setting up a receiving order here. It works similarly to the process set up for the rest of the world—just as ecommerce fulfillment down under should be.

Download our complete guide to ecommerce in Australia for more information on what you should know when entering the market and check out our related articles on Australian ecommerce: Building Your Brand and Expanding Sales in Australia and Understanding the Australian Market and Shopper.


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