Australia and New Zealand are interesting markets for ecommerce, but their appeal is not obvious at first glance. For most of the Western world, these are distant countries with small populations and economies. Less than 10% of total retail sales are online in Australia and New Zealand, so the uptake of online shopping lags behind the US and UK.
However, the two countries had combined online retail sales of $25 billion in 2019 with strong growth as online retail takes an increasing share of the total retail market. Cross-border sales are high, at 9.5% in Australia and 33% in New Zealand. With a more narrow variety of products and higher prices in some parts of their domestic markets, shoppers are keen to buy from abroad.
These countries are also wealthy, English-speaking and economically developed. The leading online marketplaces in each (eBay in Australia and Trade Me in New Zealand) are seller-friendly and easy to access for international sellers.
The largest online marketplaces in Australia and New Zealand
eBay is the largest online marketplace in Australasia, by a wide margin. Amazon is firmly in second place. This bucks the global trend – Australia is the only country in the world where both eBay and Amazon operate, and eBay is still in the lead.
However, Amazon.com.au has been growing strongly since its launch in 2017. In only three years, its monthly visits have grown to 25.8 million (41% of eBay’s) and look set to grow much further. Australians are no different to shoppers in other countries in preferring a faster and more convenient shopping experience, and that is where Amazon excels.
Online marketplace Trade Me is third in the list with 18.8 million monthly visits, 94% of which come from New Zealand. In fact, Trade Me is so popular in New Zealand, only Google, YouTube and Facebook have more traffic. eBay has only 3% of Trade Me’s traffic in New Zealand, and Amazon only 2%.
The lower half of the list features three Australian websites: Catch.com.au, The Iconic and MyDeal.com.au. The two cross-category ecommerce sites, Catch.com.au and MyDeal.com.au, get 95% of their traffic from Australia and no significant level of visits from New Zealand. Fashion website The Iconic has more exposure to New Zealand at 11%, but still receives 84% of its traffic from Australia.
eBay in Australia
eBay is the most popular online marketplace in Australia with 62.8 million monthly visits, and has dominated ecommerce there since its launch in 1999. Despite the presence of Amazon in Australia for the past three years, eBay continues to lead the market.
Australian businesses have been enthusiastic eBay sellers since the site launched, growing their sales quickly and often selling internationally. 90% of Australian SMBs on eBay export globally.
eBay has a global account system, so selling is the same in every country and sellers have a consistent feedback profile worldwide. However, listings are specific to each eBay site and do not automatically show in the standard search results across all global marketplaces.
eBay’s international site visibility (ISV) listing upgrade is not supported in Australia, but the Global Shipping Program does cover the country and makes it easier for sellers to send orders internationally, although it is not always the best option for international shipping.
eBay has a lower profile in New Zealand, with only 539,000 monthly visits.
Amazon in Australia
Amazon launched in Australia towards the end of 2017, attracting tens of thousands of customers within the first 24 hours. Some commentators predicted that Amazon would quickly dominate ecommerce in Australia, and called for restrictions to protect domestic companies.
However, despite Amazon growing steadily in Australia since its launch, it has not taken off as dramatically as many expected. This might be because Australian consumers perceive Amazon as similar to eBay, and rate domestic retailers more highly. With eBay so ingrained in Australian life, Amazon has failed to convince Australians that it offers a much better shopping experience.
Still, Amazon’s commitment to Australia should not be underestimated. Amazon seldom pulls back after entering a market (China is a rare exception) and has built four fulfillment centers in the country, the latest in Queensland.
FBA is available to marketplace sellers in Australia, making it easy for businesses to reach consumers across the country. Although Australia is similar in size to the US, it has less than a tenth of the population, and the main population centers are overwhelmingly coastal. Shipping from a single warehouse to the whole country results in highly variable costs and delivery times, so Amazon taking care of fulfillment is welcome for many sellers.
Amazon in Australia has its own seller registration system (only Europe and North America have shared systems) so sellers must register separately to sell there.
Trade Me in New Zealand
Trade Me is a remarkable success story in New Zealand. It was founded in 1999 by New Zealand entrepreneur Sam Morgan and grew steadily, seeing off competition from eBay in 2001 and reaching one million members in 2005. It now has nearly five million registered members – slightly more than the population of the country – and around 8.5 million live listings. Trade Me was acquired by private equity firm Apax Partners in 2019.
Trade Me has a strong reputation for safe online trading, and is one of the most influential domestic brands in New Zealand. It is a listing-driven site in the style of eBay, and products can be sold by auction or at a fixed-price. All listings have a fixed duration, but can be renewed.
As mentioned above, 33% of online sales in New Zealand are cross-border, so approximately one billion US dollars in value annually. Two-thirds of all online shoppers in New Zealand have made a purchase from an overseas business in the last three months. Kiwis do buy directly from online marketplaces based outside the country – including eBay, Amazon, Wish and AliExpress – but the way to reach the greatest number of consumers in New Zealand is through Trade Me.
There is an application process for foreign sellers on Trade Me. The marketplace wants sellers who can improve supply to their buyer community – either price, brand diversity or range – without flooding the categories.
New Zealand as a whole is very accessible to international businesses, and is consistently ranked in the top ten countries in the world to do business.
Also see Selling on New Zealand’s Trade Me: Your Questions Answered.
Other online marketplaces in Australia
Three other online marketplaces feature in our list above, all from Australia.
Catch.com.au is Australia’s largest daily deals site, founded in 2006. It has 8.3 million monthly visits globally, 95% of which are from Australia. Catch.com.au was originally a retailer in its own right, then added an online marketplace for third-party sellers in 2017. Catch has over four million customers and a number of leading brands are offered including Nike, Lego and Dyson. Sellers need to apply to sell on Catch and need to offer unique items, preferably niche products that can be sold at a discount.
The Iconic is a fashion retailer and marketplace, founded in 2011, and part of Global Fashion Group – a network of fashion websites which also includes Dafiti in Latin America, lamoda in Russia and Zalora in South East Asia. The Iconic has 5.1 million monthly visitors of which 84% are from Australia and 11% are from New Zealand. Products are presented identically on the site, whether they are offered by The Iconic or marketplace sellers, so there are no seller storefronts or other opportunities to showcase your business as a whole. Applying to sell on The Iconic is a manual process, but once established, support is available via the Seller Center.
MyDeal.com.au is another Australian success story, founded in 2011. It is a pure-play online marketplace (not a retailer in its own right), offering over 1 million products. It has 2.6 million monthly visits globally, 95% of which are from Australia. MyDeal.com.au sells products in all categories, with a particular focus on furniture and homewares. Businesses need to sell a range of products to access the platform, and sellers of furniture and other bulky items tend to find the greatest success. MyDeal.com.au does not provide fulfillment services, so sellers will need to arrange their own shipping or use a third-party logistics company.
About the data
This article covers online marketplaces (either pure-play marketplaces or retailers with a third-party marketplace) with more than one million monthly visits from Australia and New Zealand combined, based on data from SimilarWeb. A global list of online marketplaces, based on the same data, is available in The World’s Top Online Marketplaces.
We have excluded online retailers whose marketplace forms a very small part of their overall business, as well as marketplaces with a consumer-to-consumer model, and marketplaces with a very narrow product niche.
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Online Marketplaces in Australia and New Zealand: eBay and Trade Me Lead