Ireland has been very slow to adopt online shopping. That’s a broad statement that needs a little bit of digging. Irish businesses, more specifically, have been slow to accept Irish shoppers want to spend online. Irish shoppers on the other hand have been more than happy to buy what they need from web stores. Today, PayPal has released figures confirming that nearly a year into the pandemic little has changed with 88% of Ireland’s online shoppers buying from international websites over the last year.
The Pandemic Problem
First of all, I’m not trying to belittle how awful this pandemic is by talking about online shopping. COVID-19 has been horrible for everyone but let’s be honest. During some of the grim dark days stuck indoors, waiting for the DHL guy to arrive has been a rare highlight.
This is because people are shopping online more than ever. For shoppers, the money goes where the value is. Unfortunately, Irish businesses were caught napping in the early stages. Largely, years of neglect and focus on bricks and mortar had left them unready for online trading. Efforts were made to drive home messages with shoppers like “shop local” to keep people spending with Irish businesses. Indeed, this is actually the second biggest reasons people still like to shop with Irish websites according to this research.
Unfortunately for businesses, online shopping opens up a raft of opportunities for Irish shoppers seeking value which means simply getting your products online isn’t enough. The prices need to be competitive and retailers are not just competing with the store around the corner any more.
PayPal Reveal Irish Online Shopping Trends
Today, PayPal has revealed figures confirming the worst fears of Irish retailers. 88% of shoppers in Ireland have bought from international websites over the past year. The data should be eye-opening for Irish retailers as it uncovers some untold truths about Irish shopping trends.
Why Do People In Ireland Shop Online Abroad?
The answer to this question is simple, but it’s great to see some data to support it. The main reason people in Ireland shop online with international websites is simply seeking the best prices. Another reason, and one I definitely relate to is access to a wider range of products. As a small country, we don’t always get the latest tech or products in general.
So where’s the money going?
Amazon UK Remains Popular In Ireland
I’m sure many retailers had hoped Brexit would help slow the momentum of Amazon.co.uk. In the past year, four in five of those shopping on international websites shopping with UK retailers and I would wager Amazon.co.uk makes up a large portion of that.
While it would make sense that interest in shopping with Amazon.co.uk would cool off, the data says otherwise. Using Google Trends we can see that searches for Amazon in Ireland over the Christmas period were higher than ever and post-Brexit searches are higher than the same period last year.
I’ve shopped on Amazon for a few bits in January and it’s actually fine. Even with the customs deposit, it’s often cheaper and faster to get products from the e-commerce giant, even if you don’t like them for very understandable reasons.
Shopping With Our EU Neighbours Is Popular
The European Union is working hard to normalise cross border shopping. This is being achieved through the creation of a Digital Single Market. This whole policy framework is the reason you can use your mobile data while roaming now. While it’s been a while since most of us have travelled, I think we can all agree EU data roaming is amazing.
Another pillar of this policy is access to online products and services being made more easily accessible between EU states. The success of EU shopping depends on shipping being simplified to mean uniform cost of delivery and returns regardless of the country an order is shipped from or to. One of the reasons people choose to shop with Irish retailers is faster delivery but this is a weak argument. An Post has been struggling to cope with home deliveries leaving many disappointed with the online shopping experience.
This might be daunting for Irish retailers but it truly is an opportunity. We have some of the most exportable goods in the world so making EU shopping the norm means Irish retailers will no longer be targeting just under five million people but instead have access to the entire 446 million inhabitants of the EU.
Irish shoppers are already turning to EU retailers with 43% of people surveyed by PayPal saying they bought from an online shop outside of Ireland but within the EU. There is opportunity here for Irish businesses willing to take the leap.
International Spend Higher
Another interesting finding of the study was that Irish shoppers are spending more internationally than back home. There can be many reasons for this, including just spending more for the “big international delivery”. However, it’s also possibly down to better value on higher priced items.
On average, those who shop online spent €385 with retailers outside of Ireland in the last year while those shopping with Irish online shops spent an average of €357.
So What Now?
This isn’t a doom and gloom article. The future for online businesses is massive but only if they act now. Surviving 2020 was enough and leaning on the loyalty behind “shop local” helped many businesses keep the lights on. But that loyalty will wear thin.
Remote working means more people than ever will have access to staying home to work and the Irish government has confirmed that’s going nowhere. This means reduced footfall in stores and more predictable patterns for home deliveries. All of this means online shopping is only going to get more popular.
Irish shoppers are motivated by value and range. It’s time for Irish retailers to meet that demand head on while also starting to appreciate the wider EU market opportunity.
Joachim Goyvaerts of PayPal sums it up nicely by saying, it’s “absolutely necessary that Irish businesses provide a digital offering. Of course, they shouldn’t look at this as a short-term investment because the growing dominance of online shopping won′t ease – even when restrictions do”.
Update: About The Data
This data is not directly taken from PayPal transactions. The study was conducted by Censuswide and involved more than 1,000 consumers in Ireland.