Going, going, gone!
The ecommerce market is booming in Australia, and Grays is enjoying significant growth, receiving 12 million website visitors in the past few months.
Writer: Dani Redd | Project Manager: Josh Hyland
Ecommerce is a rapidly growing industry. In Australia, online marketplace searches are increasing on average by 46 percent year on year, with a massive 84 percent growth between January and July 2020.
“The ecommerce industry is the future of any industry in Australia and throughout the world. It is the perfect platform to challenge the normal traditional industry rules and enhance them to make them better for all stakeholders; customers, vendors and buyers,” explains Chris Corbin, CEO of Grays, Australia’s leading multi-channel ecommerce marketplace.
Corbin further explains that ecommerce platforms are rapidly becoming a requirement for businesses; not only to help them scale up, but because digitisation is something customers increasingly expect.
The coronavirus pandemic has also proven to be a catalyst for ecommerce by stimulating demand for online shopping. This is not only because shopping moved online due to safety concerns, but because many Australians used the time in lockdown to start their own small online businesses.
In Australia, after a temporary slowdown during March and April, many ecommerce platforms experienced a huge uptick in sales and engagement. Grays’s website received 12 million visits in the past three months.
“The pandemic not only increased traffic to our marketplace by 26.4 percent but also expedited growth in our database,” Corbin adds.
It also altered the ecommerce landscape, creating a higher reliance on virtual inspections and home delivery for larger items such as cars and industrial assets. In order to comply with local regulations, Grays needed to supply more hand sanitising stations and masks for customers and staff in its warehouses and depots, as well as educating them on social distancing and hygiene awareness.
“The coronavirus also really brought forward our tech advancement experiences for our customers along the journey we were already heading,” the CEO adds.
For example, the company ran a campaign to reach out to customers who had little ecommerce experience by making a return to newspaper print advertising. The adverts incorporated QR codes, which customers could scan on their mobile devices to access the website – 20 percent of new visitor registrations were attributed to this campaign. Grays also updated its UX (user experience) by improving its product listings pages.
Spearheading ecommerce in Australia
Technological advancement and seamless home delivery service is expected from Grays, as it is an ecommerce leader in Australia.
The company began trading in 1922 and moved its first auction online as early as 2000. Now it is the largest multi-channel ecommerce auction marketplace in Australasia, offering a huge range of industrial, auto, commercial and consumer products directly from manufacturers.
Grays has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth and Wagga Wagga – collectively accounting for 50,000 square metres of warehouse space and 160,000 square metres of yard space – and over 38 smaller additional sites and depots. This enables it to provide full coverage across Australia and New Zealand, while an extensive international network means it can access buyers and sellers in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
“Our marketplace matches supply and demand for a range of categories and is not constrained by geographical borders,” Corbin says.
Indeed, sellers include everyone from individuals selling a couple of items to SMEs, manufacturers, insolvency practitioners and banks seeking to dispose of assets.
Grays has four main selling divisions: industrial; home; wine; and automobiles. The latter recently made international news headlines when the five most expensive vehicles in its July Classic Car Auction totalled A$816,527. Topping the bill was the rare 1973 Ford Falcon XA GT Hardtop RPO 83 Manual Coupe, well-known as the Chicken Coupe, which sold for A$300,909.
The company has also recently added real estate to its online auction business.
“We launched real estate in July and are currently selling more than thirty properties per month,” Corbin explains. “The reason behind this was simply because our customers were asking us to get into real estate.”
There has been an enthusiastic response from vendors; Grays has a database of three million registered users, which enables it to advertise its properties to wider audiences.
Despite the growing popularity of ecommerce, Corbin believes Grays stands apart. This is partly due to its two decades of experience in the online industry, and also the ease of use of its transactional auction platform. The fact that the company permits either physical or virtual inspection of assets before purchase also stands it in good stead.
To the CEO, the company’s staff and suppliers are also key to its success.
“Grays’ staff are the backbone of the business,” he says. “They have years of experience and have a great attitude, not just at work but in everyday life.”
He similarly stresses the importance of maintaining positive relationships with the supply chain.
“They are our partners not only in the supply chain; we also view them as an extension of our business,” Corbin continues. “At times they might be the only contact that customers have with Grays, and we want to ensure that they have a positive experience.”
Grays recently expanded its portfolio through the acquisition of Gregsons, a 91-year old business which is regarded as one of Perth’s most reputable organisations and valuation platforms. This allows Grays to combine its ecommerce knowledge with Gregsons’ local knowledge, relationships and valuation expertise.
“We’re excited to welcome Gregsons into the Grays family,” Corbin says. “The integration of the Gregsons business will provide a larger vendor base to buyers in Western Australia, while vendors will benefit from the significant scale of the Grays marketplace, which receives over two million unique visitors a month.”
The acquisition exemplifies the mutually beneficial arrangement Grays enjoys with many of its partners.
As our conversation draws to an end, Corbin outlines the company’s ambitious plans for the future. For a start, Grays will be investing into its infrastructure and distribution network to keep up with growth.
“The focus is on scaleable enhancements to provide a better customer experience. We will also be working on improving our virtual inspections and our home delivery options,” the CEO says.
“The final way in which we will increase our growth is through finding more partners, who wish to work with us to a common purpose.”
The company also wants to push ahead with technological innovation, in order to improve how items are purchased, inspected and delivered across all of its sale categories. Finally, Corbin outlines plans to build upon its recently established categories, real estate and boats, and to push into new markets.
With the Australian ecommerce market growing at an exponential rate, it is clear that Grays is set to enjoy an exciting next chapter of its development.