Only 6pc of EU citizens made a cross-border online purchase this year despite 27pc using the internet to shop, according to the European Commission.
Chief executive of the IE Domain Registry David Curtin said the finding shows that consumer confidence in online shopping remains very low.
The results of the Eurobarometer 252 survey on consumer protection in the internal market released yesterday found that cross-border shopping in general has increased in the EU over the past few years, with 26pc of EU citizens (EU25) having made at least one cross-border purchase in the past 12 months, compared to 12pc in 2003 (EU15).
Online purchasing has also risen, with 27pc of citizens having made an e-commerce purchase, rising to 50pc of those with internet access at home. Despite both these increases, people are reluctant to buy online from other countries: only 6pc made a cross-border online purchase, and only 12pc who had an internet connection at home.
A majority of Europeans are less confident purchasing from providers based in other European Union countries, the commission surmised, with around two thirds of respondents considering there are more risks or difficulties if they buy goods and services from suppliers in other EU member states.
The majority of cross-border purchases take place when consumers are on holidays or business trips, with 19pc having bought goods in this manner.
Commenting on the findings, Curtin said: “The future growth of e-commerce in Ireland and across EU countries can only be achieved where customers are confident in transacting online. A key reason for low consumer confidence is security concerns. Online consumers want to know where businesses are based and want to be confident that the online companies are who they say they are.
“When online shoppers buy from the largely anonymous .com or .eu websites they may not always know who they are doing business with. On the other hand, top-level country code domain names such as .ie in Ireland or .fr in France are governed by a managed registry, therefore a series of checks are made on all new registrations, authenticating applicant’s claim to the name. These checks should help the public to have the confidence and trust to carry out transactions on .ie websites, safe in the knowledge that the online companies are who they say they are.
Curtin advised Irish firms to promote the fact that a .ie website address is local, secure and reachable should their customers need to return a product purchased on-line.
By Niall Byrne