DHL
EXPORT
BAROMETER
2021

How Australian exporters plan to take on the global export market and grow their
e-commerce businesses in a
post-pandemic world

DHL Export Barometer 2021

Australia’s export industry has faced a number of challenges in 2021 – from border and port closures, and a continuing shortage of commercial air cargo capacity, to record growth in online shopping and demand for cross-border delivery services.

However, Australian export businesses have bounced back, with confidence now at pre-pandemic levels.

Discover the business recovery strategies they plan to implement next year in order to connect with new customers overseas.

DHL Export Barometer 2021

Click below to download or read now

Key takeaways

“Enabled by interconnected global supply chains and digital technology, Australian businesses have persevered and continued to deliver for consumers, helping to keep some degree of normality throughout the pandemic.”

Gary Edstein, CEO & Senior Vice President, DHL Express Australia and Papua New Guinea

Confidence returns

Australian exporter confidence is back up this year with 69% of businesses sure their export orders will grow in the coming year.

This is up from a record low of 47% in 2020 – a positive sign that business prospects are recovering.

COVID-19 adds new challenges

In light of the pandemic, the most common barriers encountered by exporters included:

  • Supply chain issues (43%)
  • International travel restrictions (43%)

    were more likely to impact businesses exporting to China,
    Hong Kong, Africa and South & Central America

As businesses experienced more export activity in 2021, the number of those facing traditional exporting challenges returned to levels similar to pre-pandemic times:

25%

Transport & logistics

25%

Tariffs

23%

Exchange rates

27%

of exporters had no challenges apart from COVID-related issues

Recovery expected in 2022

A third of businesses saw an increase in export revenue this year, and 13% of these experienced significant increases.

At the other end of the spectrum, 48% had a drop in revenue as a result of COVID-19, including one in four (23%) that suffered significant declines.

Among those affected, 59% predict to recover by the end of 2022.

A further 11% say recovery will not be complete until 2023 or later.

Focusing in on export markets

Businesses this year exported to an average of 3.8 overseas markets, down from 4.4 in 2019. The most common export destinations were:

New
Zealand

58%

North
America

52%

Europe

39%

UK

38%

New markets to target for 2022

The most popular destinations export businesses will be looking to target in 2022 include:

New
Zealand

21%

North
America

19%

Europe

18%

UK

18%

Traditionally smaller export markets have also seen positive moves, with more businesses indicating their intention to explore expansion plans next year:

The emerging e-commerce markets of 2021
Find out more

E-commerce proves powerful

This year, in line with the surge in popularity of online shopping, more businesses are generating orders via online channels.

82%

of all exporters now
use e-commerce,
up 8% on last year

SOHOs

are more likely to be online, with 86% generating their sales via the web

1/3

Close to a third of all export businesses make 100% of their revenue online – and SOHOs are more likely to be online only businesses

“One positive is that COVID-19 has forced exporters to embrace e-commerce, which had a slow uptake pre-pandemic. It has also led to a big increase in the number of entrepreneurial SOHO exporters who have had to be creative amid pandemic restrictions.”

Tim Harcourt,
Industry Professor and Chief Economist at Institute for Public Policy and Governance (IPPG), University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

New strategies drive
e-commerce sales

Export businesses that reported revenue growth this year were more likely to actively participate in strategies to grow online orders.

In the coming year, businesses say they are planning to take action to:

Spend more on online marketing

(40%)

Improve website design

(34%)

Improve fulfilment & delivery

(29%)

Improve customer service

(26%)

Reaching new customers online

Social media continues to be the top sales channel, with 6/10 exporters using these platforms to attract customer orders – up from 47% in 2020.

Social media channels, with Facebook the most popular

(65%)

Online
advertising

(34%)

Online marketplaces

(29%)

Influencers & content creators

(17%)

The online marketplaces to sell on
Find out more

Materials for download

About the DHL Export Barometer

Since launching in 2003, the DHL Export Barometer has been an independent annual indicator generating industry-specific insights for Australian exporters by examining the issues directly affecting export businesses, including latest trends and fast-paced changes in overseas markets.

The 19th edition was conducted by ACA Research, and surveyed 1,438 Australian export businesses from the databases of DHL Express Australia and the Export Council of Australia between 1-22 September, 2021.

Businesses ranged from small operations with fewer than five employees to large organisations with more than one hundred staff.

WANT TO EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS OVERSEAS?

Apply for an international business shipping account today and our team will be in touch to get you started.

  • Worldwide coverage in 220+ countries and territories
  • On-time express delivery for export and import
  • Innovative shipping & tracking tools
  • Upfront door-to-door pricing

Contact us to get started

DHL acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.