Online shopping and the future of online retailing in Ireland

Online shopping and the future of online retailing in Ireland

With only a few days left to Christmas the shops are now packed with people searching for final gifts for their loved ones. The online stores have also been packed this year. It’s expected that the average Irish consumer will spend €227 shopping online for Christmas gifts, totalling €420million spent online in the run up to the big day. Nightline, Ireland’s largest private sector delivery company is expecting to handle 1 million parcels in the 16 days before 25th December.

Online shopping is not just for Christmas; Ireland is the 5th most developed online market globally, according to CBRE, and second in Europe behind the UK. So what exactly are we buying online; KPMG in their Consumers and Convergence 2012 study say that flights/vacation leads the way with 84% of people surveyed either likely or very likely to shop online vs in store. CDs, Books and Electronics also ranked high in the online department, with physical stores preferred for high end products such as luxury goods and furniture, but also groceries and clothing. (Full Graph Below)

Is this trend likely to change? Will Ireland follow markets such as China in their online spending habits? Chinese citizens make 60% of their clothing and footwear purchases online, according to the PwC multi channel report, Customers Take Control. The Chinese are certainly leading the way when it comes to online shopping and David McGee, PwC Ireland’s retail spokesman, says China may leapfrog the retail landscapes seen in the West, going straight to a model with fewer stores that are used more as showrooms and collection points for online shoppers.

There is evidence of this type of model already in Ireland with forward thinking companies such as Ikea, Apple and Abercrombie. The Swedish giant is used for click and collect, where users buy/browse online and view/collect in store. Ikea’s tablet and phone app for their 2013 catalogue lets you interact with the physical catalogue and view additional content. See video below.


Apple and recently Abercrombie opened flagship stores in the trendy part of Dublin’s city centre which offer inspiration and experiences to users, while the majority of their business is done online. The latter, warranted a dedicated section in DHL for Irish customers buying from the US online at the height of the Celtic Tiger years.

What is it that drives this growth in online commerce and what can Irish retailers do to take advantage? According to PwC it’s not just about price, which ranked second when they asked in their survey What is the most important factor that attracts you to shopping online?”  Access to shopping 24/7 was number one, and other convenience factors such as online being quicker and easier than visiting shops were numbers three and four. And with 90% of consumers surveyed by CBRE saying that they would want to visit a physical store at least once as part of the purchasing process there is major scope for local Irish retailers to capitalise on the growth of online shopping here by providing good online shopping experiences for their consumers. Trust, delivery and returns service, ability to collect and return in store are all major factors which attract online shoppers and with only 40% of global retailers who can deliver products online to Ireland having a physical store here, it is a big opportunity for Irish based retailers such as Lifestyle Sports and Dunnes Stores to name but a few to leapfrog ahead.

UPC’s recent report on Ireland’s Digital Future says that 2.6million Irish shoppers will spend €5.7 Billion online in 2016. If we want to channel this spend into the Economy and not out, Irish retailers will need to quickly and cleverly develop a multi channel retailing strategy which works for them and their customers. It’s time to swap the catalogue for the tablet app.



    1. KPMG – Consumers and Convergence 2012 ­­


    1. PwC – Customers Take Control –


  1. UPC – Ireland’s Digital Future

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