New research from PayPal has revealed that Irish consumers are the most active international online shoppers out of 29 countries surveyed. The global study by Ipsos looked at online cross-border shopping—referring to any purchase made on a website from outside Ireland—and included a representative sample of 810 Irish adults. It found that 86% of Irish internet shoppers (an estimated 1.9 million people) have made overseas purchases in the last 12 months. The average cross-border shopper spent €964 on international online purchases in the last year. In total, Irish online shoppers will spend an estimated €1.8 billion on products from international websites in 2015—with an expected growth of 16% to more than €2 billion in 2016.
Reasons given by online shoppers for their purchases abroad hint at a lack of access to goods online in Ireland, along with unfavourable prices. 78% of cross-border shoppers said they shop in other countries to get can get better-priced goods, while 73% said that they shop abroad to purchase items that are not available on Irish sites.
Much of Ireland’s international online spending is done on UK websites. Out of consumers in 29 markets surveyed, Irish-based online consumers are the most likely to shop on UK sites after UK customers themselves. With a total estimated spend in the UK in 2015 of €931 million, almost three quarters (74%) of online shoppers made a purchase on a UK site in the past 12 months, compared to an international average of 14%. A further 38% bought an item from the United States in the last year, while 26% said they purchased a product from a Chinese website.
Despite the high incidence of international online spending, other countries’ eyes are also on Ireland. The UK is Ireland’s biggest export market for online goods, with an estimated 1.3 million British people shopping on Irish websites in the past year. India and Germany are the next most likely to purchase Irish products, with an estimated 500,000 from each country making online purchases here in the last 12 months. A further estimated 400,000 French people turned to Irish sites to make purchases in the last year.
The research from PayPal also estimates that mobile shopping will have grown by 65% in Ireland this year to €1.4 billion. Growth will continue to be rapid with mobile shopping set to almost double to €2.7 billion by 2017. Furthermore, 40% of Ireland’s online shoppers have used a smartphone to make an online purchase in the past 12 months.
The total online spend—including mobile—by Irish shoppers is estimated to have grown by 23% between 2014 and 2015 to €4.3 billion. This is expected to grow again by 18% to more than €5 billion in 2016.
Louise Phelan, Vice President of Global Operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa, PayPal, comments on the findings:
“Our research shows that now is the time for Irish businesses and retailers to really push their e-commerce offerings and bring revenue lost to international online sales back home. Irish consumers are savvy online shoppers; they know where to find the best choice at the right price—and they’re not afraid to look abroad to get it. We need to encourage more Irish businesses to get online, offer more choice, and start bringing some of that €1.8 billion home to the Irish economy. There’s also a whole world of new online export opportunities for Irish businesses, retailers and budding entrepreneurs who are willing to grasp them.
“Mobile is playing an increasingly vital role in commerce and that is reflected in our findings. Growth in mobile transactions is currently running at a staggering 65% and Irish businesses need to take advantage of this enormous opportunity. By offering responsive and mobile-friendly payment platforms, retailers will be tapping into a growing and lucrative market that will be crucial to their future success.”
PayPal also found that Irish-based consumers are the second-most likely out of 29 countries surveyed to abandon a cross-border purchase. Some 64% of online shoppers have abandoned a cross-border purchase mid-transaction. When asked why they had abandoned the purchase, 62% of these shoppers claimed it was because shipping/postage charges were too high.
The biggest concerns amongst online shoppers when shopping abroad include delivery shipping costs (56% of online shoppers say that this prevents them from making purchases from websites in other countries), the risk of paying extra customs duties or taxes (45%) and concerns about identity theft or fraud (39%). Some 45% of online shoppers said free return shipping would make them more likely to buy from a website in another country.