Less than a third of SMEs digitally-equipped for the Christmas rush

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IEDR chief calls for national digital activation campaign

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3 December 2018 | 0

Despite the oncoming rush, only 30%, of Irish SMEs can take sales orders online, according to IE Domain Registry, the company that manages and maintains Ireland’s country domain name, .ie.

Irish consumers are spending vast sums of money online, during the festive season and throughout the year. E-commerce is worth €12.3 billion to the Irish economy.

According to IEDR’s survey of 1,000 consumers, almost two-thirds (63%) buy consumer items (like clothes and electronics) online at least monthly, and almost half (49%) order food online at least monthly. As a result, most e-commerce spend is going abroad to international retailers.

Only 34% of SMEs can facilitate online bookings or reservations via their website, while just 26% can actually process payments. 61% do not even promote their services online.

Furthermore as many as 20% of Irish consumers spend more than five hours a day online; consumer households in the survey have an average of four Internet-enabled devices.

Consumers sense this disconnect. According to IEDR, 68% believe their local high street is not equipped for the digital age. When asked why, 40% said that their local shops aren’t online, while 22% said that booking appointments or reservations isn’t a priority for their local community.

However, Irish consumers prefer to shop local. Almost two-thirds (65%) would buy more from their local shops if they had some form of click-and-collect service, which allows consumers to order a product online and pick it up in store. (However, only 2% of e-commerce-enabled SMEs offer a click-and-collect service.)

“There is a clear demand among Irish consumers for Irish suppliers, but the means to link the two online, for the most part, aren’t there,” said David Curtin, chief executive of IE Domain Registry. “Instead, consumers are looking elsewhere to the retailers that can provide them with the online convenience and choice they want, and that’s one reason why the majority of our e-commerce spend goes abroad.

“We live in a completely digitised world. Consumers now want to effortlessly switch from physical shopfront to mobile to desktop, in the countryside and the city. A business website without some kind of e-commerce service is like a sales rep without an order book or a mobile phone: to go without is to miss out on revenue, new customers and access to new markets.

“While it might be too late for offline SMEs this Christmas, IE Domain Registry believes that a ‘national digital activation campaign’ – which, for example, provides practical e-commerce and digital workshops to SMEs, and a ‘one-stop-shop’ online resource for website building, online selling and data analytics – would proactively demonstrate to local businesses, in a hands-on way, which actions, steps and tasks to prioritise, in order to achieve the benefits of e-commerce.”

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