Bendigo, Castlmaine residents buying more online

Growth categories across Australia. Source: Australia Post, Inside Online Shopping.
Growth categories across Australia. Source: Australia Post, Inside Online Shopping.

People in Bendigo and Castlemaine are shopping up a storm online with new data showing popular items include recreational goods, health and beauty items and books.

Australia Post research found a growth rate of 8.8 percent in online shopping in Bendigo in the past year.

Meanwhile Castlemaine saw an 8.6 per cent increase.

On average two in 10 parcels related to books. Two in 10 related to fashion.

Camping gear and sporting equipment were also popular growth categories.

What was more, people appeared happy to pay Australia's higher postage costs, according to one Bendigo businesswoman who relied heavily on online sales.

Emma Clohesy owns Happy Hands, Happy Heart, which sells scented play dough out of Kangaroo Flat.

"Businesses are passing the costs onto consumers. What many are finding is that customers are happy to pay for it,” she said.

About 50 per cent of Mrs Clohesy’s sales were direct to online customers - the vast bulk through Instagram.

The other 50 per cent was sold through wholesalers – many of whom were online – or face to face at shows and other events.

Mrs Clohesy said many of her clientele were buying in the evenings or early in the morning, when children were not demanding their time.

"They want to shop in their own time. They also find that these days if they don't like a product (they bought online) it's easier to return," she said.

"They have to work during the day. Or they are looking after kids and know if they go downtown to shop things will go pear-shaped.”

The business was nominated for a people’s choice award in the Online Retail Industry Awards. It was also nominated for best new business (five years or less) in the Bendigo Business Excellence Awards.

Source: Australia Post, Inside Online Shopping.

Source: Australia Post, Inside Online Shopping.

Mrs Clohesy had some advice for businesses who wanted to expand their online presence.

"Probably the best thing to do is find someone who is doing the online thing really well and ask lots of questions," she said.

"Then be prepared to jump in and have a crack yourself. There's lots of trial and error. People are still finding out what works and what doesn't."