Last year Irish consumers spent over €5 billion shopping online according to a recent report from The Consumer Market Monitor.
However, 60% of that money was spent with retailers based outside of Ireland.
Retail sales in general were up by 7% totalling €40 billion in 2017 which is great news for the economy. However, with only €2 billion of the total online spend going to Irish retailers this is a missed opportunity.
With disposable income of Irish households up by 5% last year the opportunity for anybody selling online has increased. There are now more people in work, pay rises are happening and in general consumer confidence is high. Again we find ourselves cash rich and time poor. With time being precious and the availability of shops that sell online, it’s no wonder we are shunning shopping centres for our laptops in the evenings.
According to another recent report from Eurostat, in 2016 over a quarter of businesses in Ireland recorded online sales either via their website or an app. As the EU average is only 16%, that puts us ahead by a considerable margin. These figures were not exclusively consumer sales but also included business to business sales. Ireland’s share of the EU ecommerce market is expected to almost double in the next 5 years.
Most of the Irish online spending at present is going to retailers outside of Ireland and we might wonder what the reason for that is. Do they offer a better buying experience? Or are there now less barriers to trade internationally?
In order to try to increase online sales we must ensure we do not provide any barriers to potential customers. We must make it obvious that our site is secure and have a recognised platform that makes the customer comfortable giving credit card details. The shopping experience online must be straight forward. The customer must be able to find what they want to buy easily and complete the purchase without too many steps.
More than 60% of Irish SME’s have a website and most Irish businesses will sell to other Irish customers according to Eurostat. Therefore, there may be opportunities to sell outside of Ireland so we need to look at how can we expand our online sales.
Google Tools for Global Sales
A tool launched by Google only a few months ago could be a game changer and it is called Google Market Finder. This free tool gives guidance and tools for international growth and can be easily accessed by Irish businesses. It offers advice on the hurdles of translation, payments and shipping to name just a few.
It breaks down the process into three steps.
- Find new opportunities: By entering your website address and giving some information to the tool it will show you suggestions of countries that may offer opportunities for your product.
- Plan operations: This covers practical but important issues such as payments, customer care and logistics in the regions.
- Marketing your business: Expert advice on search advertising in a foreign country, how to think about global marketing strategy and how to use measurement effectively.
If you sell online and are thinking of expanding your offering to a global market, then it may be worth taking a look at Google Market Finder as a starting point. If you are supplying within Ireland or expanding worldwide, the opportunities and tools are there for you.