Irish businesses planning e-commerce fightback?

30 Nov 2010

For failing to develop their sites for e-commerce, Irish businesses are losing online business to the UK and other markets which are targeting Irish consumers. As a result, they are planning an e-commerce fightback.

Irish retailers and other traditional businesses are planning to step up e-commerce activity in 2011 and encourage more Irish consumers to buy from Irish rather than overseas websites.

According to the latest State of the Net quarterly bulletin, price-conscious consumers are turning increasingly to the internet to research and buy products and services.

Higher internet adoption levels, smartphone and social media usage, as well as a range of internet-only deals, will also result in higher e-commerce sales this Christmas. 

However, Irish businesses are losing e-commerce business to the UK and other markets, which are targeting Irish consumers.

Many Irish e-commerce sites lag behind international sites in terms of the user experience, the deals on offer and the average transaction value.

From a low e-commerce base

Last week, the .ie Domain Registry (IEDR) revealed that only 66pc of Irish businesses had websites and of these a mere 21pc had e-commerce capability.

To make matters worse, the IEDR revealed there has been only a 3pc net increase since 2000 in the number of firms conducting e-commerce on their websites.

If this is the case, it’s hardly surprising that Irish consumers under served locally online are turning to overseas providers. For being e-commerce laggards, Irish firms have been paying the price.

However, according to Aileen O’Toole, managing director of online consultancy AMAS, Irish retailers and other businesses are beginning to fight back.

And it’s not just about defending their patch,” she says.They are beginning to recognise that there are serious untapped business opportunities, not only in Ireland but in overseas markets.

“Evidence from the UK and other more mature online markets shows that multichannel retailers – those with both traditional and online outlets – are winning market share against online-only retailers.

“The perception that overseas online stores offer better value is often incorrect. Consumers can get excellent value from Irish online stores or through offers on Facebook or Twitter.”

New data from Visa Europe published this week puts a value of €356m on Irish e-commerce, which works out at €172 per shopper.

Irish consumers are going online to save money, with a majority believing that online shopping can result in savings of 18pc compared with prices on the high street.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years