The Australian Moonlighting Boom

- July 3, 2013 2 MIN READ

A growing number of Australians are thought to be starting up online retail businesses to create a secondary source of income. Analysis by ecommerce platform Bigcommerce.com, over a three-month period this year,  found an unusually large amount of activity being logged by online retailers outside of regular office hours.

According to Bigcommerce, the findings point to a rise in the number of “moonlighters” — Australians who work a regular job during the day, and run an online store after hours. Bigcommerce sampled 1800 of its Australian stores, with about half (48%) of all activity logged taking place between 5pm and 9am, and a surprisingly large amount of activity occurring after midnight.
At midday, the peak time for activity on Bigcommerce stores — 82% of online retailers were found to be working on their stores. But at midnight, there were still 48% actively working. At 1am, more than a third of all retailers sampled were working, but perhaps even more remarkably, at 3am there were still 335 out of the 1788 retailers actively working on their stores.


Bigcommerce co-founder Eddie Machaalani said the findings are a strong indication that a large amount of Australians are now working day jobs and coming home to work on their online stores after hours.

“Anecdotally, we know there are of a lot of Australians who are moonlighting — they’re running an online store despite currently working in full-time and part-time roles. But we are now starting to see the evidence in our numbers.

“In recent years, we have noticed more and more activity logged outside of regular working hours,” Mr Machaalani said. “Which is what prompted us to do the analysis in the first place.

“We believe the increase in activity can be attributed to two things. Either online store owners are working longer hours, or there are a greater number who prefer to work late in the evening (and after midnight) because they are busy during the day — they have fulltime jobs.

“In all likelihood, it’s probably a little bit of both,” Mr Machaalani said.

“We know online retailers spend a lot of time on their business because they are encouraged by the sales they are making and working hard to grow their stores. But we also know it’s never been easier to set up and run an online store, so many Australians are simply running a hobby businesses to supplement their regular income.

“On some occasions, these ‘hobby stores’ end up becoming so big that the owner ends up quitting their day job to concentrate on their store.”

But Mr Machaalani said it wasn’t just hobbyists responsible for the moonlighting boom.

“We also know that a lot of mothers on maternity leave start up Bigcommerce stores to earn a little extra money. However, when they reenter the workforce, they continue to run their stores because they realise how easy it is and enjoy seeing the extra money flowing into their bank accounts.

“There really has never been a better time to own and operate an online retail business. These days, all you need is a credit card and an internet connection to get a fully operational online store up and running in a matter of minutes.”