Retailers focused on €4.1bn online shopping market

Thursday, 23 May 2013
At its Annual Conference at the Aviva Stadium today, Retail Ireland, the IBEC group that represents the retail sector, published its Online Retailing Survey 2013 which shows that retailers are increasingly focusing on their online operations in a bid to tap into the €4.1bn online market in Ireland, which is predicted to grow to €21bn by 2017.* Of those surveyed by Retail Ireland, 84% have an online presence and 64% intend to upgrade that presence in the next 18 months. The majority of retailers now advertise on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter and over half have plans to focus on smart phone applications and tablet technology.

The survey of retailers with over 500 stores and 18,000 employees in Ireland was published as retailers gather at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin for the first Retail Ireland Annual Conference, in partnership with the IBEC Retail Skillnet.

Commenting on the survey, Retail Ireland Director Stephen Lynam said: "Irish retailers are now sharply focused on catering to the digital consumer as well as the traditional customer. It's a huge market, estimated at a value of €4.1bn in Ireland alone and the retailers surveyed reported that 15% of their sales now come from online sales. There is huge scope to increase online sales. The majority of retailers surveyed are offering discounts, special deals, free shipping and larger product ranges to attract online shoppers.

"However, there are a number of barriers to online trading: delivery costs (36%), initial set-up costs (28%), and just under a quarter cited poor broadband speeds, competition and the lack of post codes in Ireland as barriers. While many retailers are addressing these barriers themselves, Government support is needed to address issues such as the provision of high speed broadband through the accelerated implementation of the National Broadband Plan  and speed up plans to introduce a comprehensive post-code system in Ireland to help with deliveries.

"Retail is one of Ireland's largest sectors, employing over  250,000 people. The sector has faced major challenges in recent years, most predominantly slow domestic demand. Given that the sector is under huge pressure, it needs every support possible to help it overcome the very challenging market conditions," concluded Mr Lynam.

The future of retailing - including how to cater for the the digital consumer- is being discussed this morning at Retail Ireland's Annual Conference 2013. The event, which brings together dozens of retailers, service suppliers and interested stakeholders, will be addressed by EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, Tonio Borg.

*Digital Hub Development Agency Annual Report 2012